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I have heard our Grand Master say that Pennsylvania Freemasonry has never been stronger. I would like to think the same of our Masonic Charities. It appears to me that as we come together as one Family of Freemasonry, our efforts strengthen our good works, and our goals are surpassed by the reality of our shared vision.

Take our Masonic Villages, for instance. Brethren came together in the Philadelphia area in the late 1800s and in the Elizabethtown area in the early 1900s to create homes to serve their families. Eastern Star members did the same in the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh areas. Over the years we've come together to fulfill a shared Mission of Love, which is stronger than ever because our efforts are combined.

And we're still growing. If you haven't already heard the exciting news of our newest opportunity, you can read about it in detail in this issue. The Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania and the Irem Shrine are working together on a joint venture which will allow us to meet our mutual goals of serving members. The Masonic Village at Dallas will be our first golf retirement community and will allow us to serve members in a beautiful setting where many have expressed an interest in retiring. We believe the Irem location and Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania's retirement living expertise will make this one of the premier golf retirement communities in the country. Marketing efforts for this community have begun, so to ensure your first choice of accommodation, call today!

The cohesiveness of our Masonic family has earned us an image as an organization that truly works together for the benefit of humanity. This has gained us the respect of other reputable organizations that have partnered with us to share in the success of many of our ventures. Our mutually beneficial relationship with the Valley Care Association has strengthened our Sewickley community and the services provided to our residents. The Pennsylvania Masonic Foundation for Children's partnership with the Crime Prevention Association of Pennsylvania has made the Masonic CHIP program an overwhelming success, one that has been augmented by the efforts of lodges, volunteers, schools, our Masonic Youth Groups and even our residents at the Masonic Village at Lafayette Hill, who have put together hundreds of packets for the program.

Thousands of men have joined our family recently, and, of course, much of our growing membership can be attributed to our enhanced membership enrichment programs and efforts, but I believe that it goes deeper than that. I believe that more and more people are seeing what Masons are able to accomplish because of our fraternal bonds, our matchless history and our commitment to philanthropy. I've heard of men who have joined Freemasonry because of services a Masonic Village has provided to a loved one, because of the lessons a son learned through DeMolay, and because a wife recommended it to him (probably one of the most compelling reasons to join!).

Every April, our Masonic Village family celebrates the volunteers who spend tens of thousands of hours enhancing the lives of our residents. Some are residents, Masons, Eastern Star members and youth group members who augment the services provided by our staff. Some, however, are those who knew of our reputation for benevolence and quality services, and who have a sincere desire to help perpetuate the care provided to the wonderful people who live in our Masonic Villages. As I celebrate these caring individuals each year, I think to myself, "How wonderful it is that everything comes full circle." Freemasons are dedicated to serving others, and when the time comes that they or their families need help, the next generation is there to volunteer to meet the need.

Who wouldn't want to be part of something so great? Let's continue to strive to grow and strengthen our Masonic family and the Masonic Charities who support us. If you would like to Share the Light, please contact the Masonic Village closest to you to share some of your time and talent. Or, get involved with a youth group or a CHIP program in your area and truly make a difference in your community.

Masonic Village at Elizabethtown: (717) 367-1121, ext. 33175
Masonic Village at Lafayette Hill: (610) 825-6100, ext. 1325
Masonic Village at Sewickley: (412) 741-1400, ext. 3200
Masonic Village at Warminster: (215) 672-2500, ext. 115
Pennsylvania Youth Foundation Office: (717) 367-1536 or (800) 266-8424
Pennsylvania Masonic Foundation for Children Office: (215) 988-1978.

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