We have been blessed with many opportunities over the years to grow in response to demands for new and expanded services. This has enabled us to provide members and their families with three... and soon to be four...premier locations for receiving services across the Commonwealth.
Since we've begun working with the residents, staff and Board of Directors of the Masonic Home of Pennsylvania at Lafayette Hill, I have been extremely excited about our January 1, 2004 union for many reasons. Just a short time ago, however, as I had an opportunity to meet with staff to discuss our transition into one family, I overheard a conversation, that, had I closed my eyes, I could have imagined taking place at Elizabethtown, Sewickley or Warminster. A group of employees were comforting a nursing staff person whom I assumed had lost a family member. As it turns out, she was grieving over the death of a resident for whom she had cared for a long time. Her love for this resident, as well as her fellow employees' concerns for her, was as heartfelt as the strong bonds we experience at all of our communities. "Yes," I thought to myself, "this union is meant to be."
Along with growth comes change, and after 94 years of operation as the Masonic Homes, we will become the Masonic Villages of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania on January 1, 2004. This name unifies all of our communities and eliminates confusion among our locations.
A Master Plan has been developed for the Masonic Village at Elizabethtown campus, detailing 11 program goals to be addressed over the next 15 to 20 years. This vision for the future of this campus includes plans for additional retirement living accommodations, assisted living units and recreational opportunities; for a potential marketplace; for re-inventing existing structures, and more. In October, the Committee on Masonic Homes approved the construction of approximately 100 additional retirement living cottages, which are expected to be completed in 2004, 2005 and 2006.
Major renovations and enhancements have been underway at the Masonic Village at Warminster to improve the quality of life for residents. We are thankful to the Eastern Star members, Masons, chapters and lodges that have supported this greatly needed project.
Another exciting event happened on May 8, when the community received a generous gift from the Southampton Square Club for a new building for resident activities, Square Club meetings, Lodge meetings and meetings of Masonically related organizations. The new assembly room should be completed in 2004.
Much growth and change has occurred during 2003 at the Masonic Village at Sewickley. The community welcomed its first retirement living residents on February 25, with the completion of the first 76 apartments. In August, the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania performed a datestone ceremony to celebrate the near completion of the clubhouse and retirement living apartments and villas. The project was completed in September, with a total of 228 apartments and 35 villas.
Several renovations and enhancements were completed in November in the Valley Care Masonic Center.
We look forward to helping our Grand Lodge and Grand Master Slater Share the Light with our continued quest for excellence in providing our "Mission of Love."