15 Jun STANDING GUARD
By Rita Toalson
Royal Neighbors of America quietly stands guard over our neighborhood
Standing proudly at the corners of Sixteenth Street and Second Avenue, the Home Office of Royal Neighbors of America has been part of the downtown landscape since 1928. Unique carvings symbolizing the principles and beliefs of the 123-year-old life insurance organization rise majestically above the building’s entrance.
Made of Bedford limestone, the building’s iconic bronze doors open to a vestibule featuring an inscription carved in stone expressing a moving dedication to Royal Neighbors’ founders.
The second set of doors leads to the lobby highlighted by Appalachian Butternut paneling, a 25-light chandelier imported from Austria, and a variety of keepsakes of historical significance. Housing approximately 120 employees, the of ce is a testament to the strength and commitment of
the pioneering women who founded the organization.
Where it began
In 1888, nine women got together to socialize. They soon realized they wanted to do more than talk about their husbands and children, the latest recipe, or the newest fashions. They not only wanted to socialize, they wanted to mobilize.
They began by embracing a neighbor-helping-neighbor philosophy that remains a core value of the organization today. They reached out to their friends and neighbors in times of need and shared their philanthropic mission with the community.
They didn’t stop there. Quick to grasp the realities of the 19th century, they knew their husbands could be insured, own property, and vote. They also knew they were not as fortunate. Understanding, too, a woman’s importance to the family unit, they wondered how their husbands would work, keep the children together in the home and manage the household if they should die.
In an effort to address their concerns, the founders performed their due diligence in researching the possibility of offering life insurance to women. They voted to incorporate in the State of Illinois because it had the most practicable insurance laws. On March 21, 1895, Royal Neighbors of America was chartered as a fraternal bene t insurance society, one of the rst to insure women.
Royal Neighbors was becoming more than a concept; it was becoming a living, breathing entity of women who wanted to change the world in which they lived. Today the organization offers life insurance, including whole life, term life, and universal life, as well as annuities.
Through responsible business growth and a solid nancial position, Royal Neighbors is well-positioned to continue to meet the nancial protection needs of its more than 200,000 members, as well as empower women and improve communities through philanthropy.
In 2017, Royal Neighbors delivered over $14 million in Social Good value through grassroots volunteering activities, grant programs that empower women and their families,and member savings opportunities on health, wellness and legal services. In the Quad Cities alone, area members volunteered nearly 80,000 hours last year.
“Royal Neighbors’ stellar history is exemplified by its ability to protect our members nancially and to provide them an outlet to give back and make a difference in their own corner of the world,” notes Cynthia Tidwell, President and CEO. “We are proud to be a long and steadfast supporter of the Quad Cities and look forward to continuing a strong community partnership.”