“For better is a neighbor that is near than a brother that is far.”
Marie Kirkland of Council Bluffs, Iowa, placed an add in her local paper, the Council Bluffs Nonpareil, to bring together a meeting of the wives of the Modern Woodmen of America. The meeting was to be a social activity. The nine women who came that first night formed a ladies auxiliary to Modern Woodmen Camp 171.
This fledgling social group, however, grew into the Royal Neighbors of America. Within a year they had written and adopted a constitution, bylaws, and articles of incorporation based on the Biblical passage of Proverbs 27:10, “to bring joy and comfort into many homes that might otherwise today be dark and cheerless. . . by affording the mother an opportunity to provide protection upon her life.”. They believed that their mission was so noble that they added “royal” to the organization’s name, dubbing it the Royal Neighbors of America. Marie Kirkland, known as the Mother of the Society, became the first Supreme Vice Oracle. They also adopted six founding principles: Faith, Unselfishness, Courage, Endurance, Modesty, and Morality.
Many organizations at that time offered insurance to their members but excluded insuring women. The RNA began offering insurance to women in 1895, and to children in 1918, one of the first to do so. The organization has also helped victims of natural disasters in time of need since the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, and helping victims as recently as the Katrina Hurricane.