August 6, 2020, Rock Island, Ill.) – For Royal Neighbors of America, celebrating its 125th anniversary while commemorating the centennial of women’s right to vote provides a synergy of women’s accomplishments that spans from the late 19th century to present day. “As one of the first and largest women-led life insurers in the U.S., our pioneering heritage of standing shoulder-to-shoulder with women is as relevant today as the day we were founded in 1895,” states Cynthia Tidwell, Royal Neighbors President/CEO. Ms. Tidwell is the organization’s current leader in a storied line of trailblazing women. “We were not only one of the first to recognize that a woman’s life was worthy of life insurance protection, but we did so 25 years before women had won the right to vote!”
Royal Neighbors’ early members were active in supporting the suffrage movement from its initial days through the signing of the 19th Amendment. “These women were pioneers. They were heading urban households here in Rock Island and across the Midwest, away from the traditional family farms, while their husbands worked in Industry. They banded together to provide emotional and social support to each other during those isolating and stressful times,” affirms Tidwell.
She adds, “Our founders also believed women’s lives had financial worth and should be eligible for the protection provided by life insurance. To this day, we have delivered on this promise for women and their families for generations. Given current statistics that show ‘breadwinning mothers’ make up about 40 percent of today’s U.S. households1, this mission is just as important now as it was back in 1895. Perhaps more so.”
Royal Neighbors also expanded its national philanthropic reach through the years – supporting members from the days of the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 to the Spanish Influenza pandemic; from the Great Depression to World War II; and from the Great Recession to the current COVID-19 crisis. “During periods of uncertainty, our strength and unity, rooted in the values of our Founders, have seen us through to better days. Today is no different,” states Tidwell.
This year, Royal Neighbors and its members across the U.S. have mobilized to battle the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic. In 2020, the organization will invest approximately $500,000 to help fund not only local nonprofits to better serve Quad Citians but also its nationwide chapter system that makes a difference in communities across the U.S. Many chapters have stepped up to serve during the current pandemic, providing care kits for frontline healthcare workers, sewing protective masks and gowns, and donating supplies and funds to local food pantries. Local Chapter 20032, in Rock Island, Ill., has already provided more than 500 hand-made masks to local organizations free of charge.
Royal Neighbors, located in its iconic Art Deco headquarters in Rock Island, IL, remains a timeless anchor to the city’s historic downtown, and a source for continuing community stability. Throughout the year, the organization and its members have recognized the accomplishments of its visionary women leaders who built a thriving organization that offered life insurance and annuities to women and their families and created philanthropic and volunteering programs that continue to build strong communities even today.
“One hundred twenty-five years later, we continue to generate social good both here in the Quad Cities and across America. We are lifting up women, their families, and their communities along the way,” says Ms. Tidwell. “We like to say that our successful business funds the mission. We are strong, thriving, and well-positioned to continue to meet our financial obligations to our membership and to support their efforts to drive positive change at a grassroots level. We are looking forward to another 125 years!”
1Information on the percentage of “bread winning mothers” can be found here:
Marie Young, Manager, Communications
Marie.Young@royalneighbors.org | (309) 732-8280