Florence Houts & Bro. HindsFlorence Emily Houtz remembered what her father told her more than six decades ago when she was 12: "If you ever need help, call the Masons." Last year she did, and it saved her life and brought her a safe and happy environment for the rest of her days.

It was a different kind of conversation for Bro. Daniel J. Hinds, Building Superintendent at the Masonic Temple in Philadelphia, when he answered that telephone call. The lady's voice asked if he is a Mason because, she said, "I have to speak to a Mason." She went on to explain that her father was a Mason and always told her to contact the Masons if she really needed help. Bro. Hinds told her that he is a Mason and that her father was "absolutely correct." He listened to her problems and promptly gave top priority to "helping Florence."

She explained that she was 76 years old and the lone survivor of her family. She needed money (really cash) to buy food, but was too sick to go out to buy it. In the course of the conversation, Bro. Hinds learned that she must have been ill for some time and through a social agency arrangements had been made for a local grocer to deliver food supplies, but she had to pay for them in cash on delivery (a check or credit card was not acceptable). She said that she had sufficient money in the bank, but could not go out to get the cash and, therefore, could not get groceries until someone brought her cash for which she would write a personal check.

Bro. Hinds responded at once, then began weekly visits, taking cash and some food items to Florence. He did that for about ten weeks and then Florence became very sick ­ as it turned out, deathly sick.

Then, one day she called to say that she did not feel well. Bro. Hinds said that he could tell by her voice and conversation that she was seriously ill. He suggested that she go to the hospital, but Florence didn't want to do that. Bro. Hinds was certain that she was in serious trouble, so he contacted the Rescue Squad of the Philadelphia Fire Department and insisted that they respond to help her, taking whatever measures necessary to get her to the hospital.

Florence was admitted to Pennsylvania Hospital where Bro. Hinds visited her two days later. As he approached Florence's room, the doctor stopped him in the hallway and asked, "Who was responsible for her admission to the emergency ward?" When Bro. Hinds said that he was, the doctor said that his action actually had saved her life. "Another six hours without treatment and she would have died," the doctor said.

The story doesn't end there. Florence had an operation and, after 26 days in the hospital, she had to have a place to go. The Masonic Homes was the answer, especially since Florence was the daughter of a Mason. She was admitted to the Masonic Health Care Center, recovered and, though brief, spent the rest of her days in the safe and happy environment of the Masonic Homes.

For Florence's own story as told to a Renaissance Unit Volunteer click here.