|Volume LVII||May 2010||Number 2|
Random Acts of Kindness
Thinking of 52 random acts of kindness during the year may seem daunting, but when people take the time to stop and observe their surroundings, many needs are actually quite obvious. The past winter's heavy snow storms brought an avalanche of opportunities for service. With driveways and sidewalks covered in snow, Masons told stories of plowing neighbors' driveways, shoveling paths for medical personnel and blowing snow from sidewalks for a quarter of a mile. What wonderful displays of taking the initiative to fulfill needs!
Other random acts of kindness are rooted in a person's deepest passions and interests. When Masons recognize their strengths and use them to serve others, unique opportunities evolve.
Bro. Harold Bush, dual member of Newtown Lodge No. 427, Woodside, and Cressona Lodge No. 222, has been working with computers, or some version of them, since the 1960s when he studied electronics in the Navy. Since Bro. Bush moved from California to Pennsylvania in 1982, he has used his passion for computers to teach computer skills, primarily to senior citizens, through the Department of Labor's Senior Community Service Program. Bro. Bush also recycles and refurbishes computers that he has purchased from thrift stores or which have been donated to him. He then gives the computers to individuals and families who cannot afford them. "Actions speak louder than words," Bro. Bush said. "Masonry is a way of life. There are people you interact with every day who will see the good you do."
Bro. Bush's demeanor and generosity impact his students, including Alfred Sagid, who describes himself as "not a Mason, yet." Through conversations with Bro. Bush, watching a video Bro. Bush supplied and viewing documentaries on Freemasonry, Sagid has come to the conclusion that "[Freemasons] are uplifting humanity with their deeds of kindness and encouragement. They make better people and communities."
When he was 6, now-Staff Sgt. Bro. Richard John Holland, Jr.'s (Chapman Lodge No. 637, North Catasauqua) parents could not afford to buy him toys for Christmas, but that year, anonymous people made sure there were presents under the tree. Now, more than 23 years later, and as a decorated two-time veteran of Iraq and one-time veteran of the war in Afghanistan, he is returning the favor. "I know when I was young and had nothing that someone came through for me, and I like to believe that it helped me become the person I am today," Bro. Holland said.
Bro. Holland has worked with the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program since 2007, and in 2009, he became a regional coordinator. He is responsible for setting up drop-off sites, collecting toys and buying gifts for families at or below the poverty line. In 2009, 28,618 toys were distributed throughout Lehigh and Northampton counties. "I believe serving the community is important for any organization in order to be recognized as a positive thing," Bro. Holland said. "Freemasonry would benefit from any community service to show the community that we are a positive fraternity and not a negative group."
If a lodge wants to take part in the Toys for Tots campaign, visit www.toysfortots.org to contact the local coordinator for your area and discuss ways you can support the local cause.
Upon his retirement from government service, Bro. David Seltzer, Shekinah Lodge No. 246, Philadelphia, contacted the Medical, Engineering and Aerospace Magnet School at Northeast High School to see if it could use some of his excess equipment. The new director was in the process of updating the program to align it with NASA's mission to return to the moon, so Bro. Seltzer and the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command transferred much-needed equipment to the school through the Computers For Learning program. The school even has an actual NASA Apollo training capsule.
Bro. Seltzer became the volunteer director/ science advisor of the Space Research Center (SPARC) and Project SPARC. This after-school program includes students in six student-managed groups including administration, computers, engineering, flight, medical and robotics, who develop projects, enter competitions and perform two NASA-like flight simulations during the school year. In 2009, the Project SPARC students simulated a mission to launch two rockets with crews who landed on the moon and used a robotic vehicle to build a two-part prototype habitat before returning to earth.
Under Bro. Seltzer's guidance, the program has been aligned with the new NASA Constellation Program, which has a goal of returning to the moon and creating habitats for sustained visits to Mars; developed new laboratories and facilities; and increased membership from 85 students in 2006 to 140 students three years later. Bro. Seltzer's goal is to make the practices, procedures, software, assets and capabilities of Project SPARC available to other schools and learning centers that want to develop a similar program.
The American Red Cross Lower Bucks County Chapter, PECO and Citizens Bank recently awarded Bro. Edward Budman, P.M., Pennsylvania Meridian Sun Lodge No. 2, Philadelphia, the "Real Heroes 2009 Award" for his acts of kindness. Since age 17, Bro. Budman has donated 41 gallons of blood - helping an estimated 985 patients. Bro. Budman's two sons and daughter-in-law have followed in his footsteps as the next generation of blood donors. Bro. Budman also serves on the board of directors for the Masonic Blood Donor Club.
Bro. Michael Allard, Vaux Lodge No. 406, Hamburg, also passionately lives the life of a Mason. During the past 10 years, he and his wife, Cheryl, have been foster parents for more than 50 children from 8 months to 15 years old - in addition to raising their own two daughters. Most recently, on Feb. 22, they adopted Jenna, a 2-year-old girl with Down syndrome.
Members of Vaux Lodge have readily accepted the Allard's foster and biological children, who often attend Masonic picnics, the Shriners Circus and occasionally help with fund raisers. "All of the kids who come into our home know I'm a Mason, and they learn that this is a group of people who are committed to doing good in the community," Bro. Allard said.
The Allards and other local foster parents have been on the receiving end of random acts of kindness from lodge members, and the lodge as a whole. They've provided day care services when needed; donated items, like a stroller, to foster parents; made a recommendation to a Shriners clinic for a child's expedited medical care; and generally shown their support however necessary. "Random acts of kindness don't have to be time consuming," Bro. Allard said. "Think outside the box. Even a small act can have a large impact."
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