Volume LVIIIMay 2011Number 2

Additional Random Acts of Kindness

A random act of kindness is an affordable, one-size-fits-all gift ideal for friends and strangers alike. The past holiday and winter season presented many opportunities to help others in big and small ways, whether it was shoveling snow, helping a stranded motorist or spreading holiday cheer.

Don't forget to record your good deeds on the Random Acts of Kindness Registry at www.pagrandlodge.org/rak. Just click on "Submit a Random Act of Kindness or a Community Service Initiative" and fill in the fields that appear. Once you are done, click the button "Add Your Report to the Registry," and you will see your submission within several days.

A Handy Man with a Heart of Gold & a Love for Masonry

The morning after a snowstorm, neighbors often see Bro. Frederick Ruderick, J.W., Hackenburg Mt. Moriah Lodge No. 19, Philadelphia, snow blowing their entire block. According to neighbor and lodge brother Bart Davis, P.M., he has done this as long as he has been able to borrow or own a snowblower. He also helps many brothers with projects and repairs.

"He moved onto my street about 11 years ago and has been helping his neighbors ever since," Bro. Davis said. "He is truly a man who believes in acts of kindness. I just think that it makes him feel good to help others. He goes out of his way to help his friends and neighbors and even strangers."

"I'm motivated by the satisfaction of helping someone," Bro. Ruderick said. "It's just in my nature. I just do it. I don't think about it. If someone needs help, it's not a big deal."

Bro. Ruderick is a retired Philadelphia Gas Works supervisor and has many skills: plumbing (pipe repair), figuring out and repairing electrical problems, house heater repair, carpentry, molding around new flooring, hardscaping (brickwork) around flower beds, gutter cleaning and removing ice jams from gutters. He has also learned a great deal from trial and error.

"I am proud to be a Pennsylvania Mason because of the wonderful men that I have met in my Masonic journey," Bro. Davis said. "We often say that 'Freemasonry makes good men better.' I am proud to say that I have close friends in my lodge who range in age from 82 to 34 (I am 63). Many of these men have taught me important life lessons, and I, in turn, have mentored many of our younger members."

"I've met people from all walks of life through the fraternity," Bro. Ruderick said. "I enjoy being with other men. It's making me a better man."

Keeping Youth Safe & Preparing Them for the Future

As part of the Gang Resistance and Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T.) program, Bro. Daniel J. Richmond, Richard Vaux-Ivanhoe Lodge No. 384, Philadelphia, instructed a gang prevention program for inner city youth once a week (approximately one hour) for 13 sessions.

"It's much easier to mold a child than rebuild an adult," Bro. Richmond said. "Children are going to be other people's husbands and wives, teachers, Masons, police officers and parents of our grandchildren. Who wouldn't jump at the opportunity to develop and shape them for our future?"

He also volunteers his services at the Philadelphia Youth Study Detention Center, Philadelphia Police Academy, community centers and local high schools to promote better relations and communications between police officers and youth, breaking down stereotypes between the two groups and eventually saving lives.

"After home, family, education and career, community service is the point of destination on the journey of life," he said. "It's the mission of all humanity."

Teaching Cyber Safety

Bro. Chris Harrington, Reading Lodge No. 549, West Reading, recently coordinated efforts with the local police department, chamber of commerce, public library, Bucks County District Attorney's Office and Verizon Foundation to organize and conduct a series of free Internet safety workshops for children and adults. There were approximately 12 to 15 adults and three to five children in attendance at each of the three workshops. A fourth one was scheduled for April.

"As a technology leader within the community, I witness first-hand the dangers to students and adults in an online environment," said Bro. Harrington, who serves as the Quakertown Community School District's director of technology and director for the school district's in-house cyber school. "Some of the most significant dangers that exist through the Internet include financial scams, identity theft, cyber bullying and sexual crimes. Without a sound understanding of the potential risks, individuals may utilize online resources in ways which could make them more vulnerable to such dangers. Our workshops are designed to help community members minimize these risks."

For much of his life, Bro. Harrington desired to serve other people. When he learned about the ideals and beliefs of Freemasonry, he joined to surround himself with like-minded individuals. "I am very proud to quietly serve others without drawing significant attention to myself," he said. "I believe that this style of service is certainly shared by many Freemasons around the world - service without the expectation of accolades or compensation."

Making a Difference, One Family at a Time

Bro. Ray Riggleman, Waynesburg Lodge No. 153, has always been passionate about changing the lives of children. He joined the Masonic fraternity after learning how much members are willing to help out within the community, and especially how the charities of the appendant bodies, such as Scottish Rite's Children's Dyslexia Centers and the Shriners Hospitals for Children, play a key role in issues about which he feels deeply.

Bro. Riggleman recently received an e-mail about a single mother who was looking for clothes and shoes for her three daughters. He suggested to his wife, knowing how school-age kids can be, that they contact the mother and purchase a new pair of shoes for each of the girls for school.

"Whenever we hear that a family is in need, especially for children, we want to help as much as possible," Bro. Riggleman said. "I can't stand the thought of a kid having to go to school wearing shoes that are second hand ... I try, if I am able, to provide new clothes or shoes for those who may need them.

"As I do this myself, I hope to inspire my son, Austin, age 12, and my daughter, Ashton, age 8, to do the same thing if they are able to later in life. I feel we must start now while they are young and still learning life lessons themselves."

Anonymous Kindness

While out to lunch with his 8-year-old son Colby, Bro. Jeffrey Yadzinski, Harry A. Houseman Lodge No. 717, Bristol, noticed a frail, older woman walk into the restaurant. "She looked very tired and weary to say the least," Bro. Yadzinski said. "My son pointed out to me that she looked sad to be alone. At that moment, we both decided we should surprise her ... anonymously."

He called the waitress over and instructed her to give him the woman's check when she finished eating, but not to mention anything until the woman was done or tell her who was paying. "We saw the waitress explain to the woman what transpired and she instantly gained a glow of joy and happiness, seemingly knowing once again, she is never unnoticed or uncared for," Bro. Yadzinski said. "My son was amazed at how such a small act of kindness could lift the spirits of another."

This wasn't the first time Bro. Yadzinski had paid for a stranger's meal anonymously, but it was the first time he made his son a part of the experience.

"My son is normally very compassionate and giving; however, I have noticed a deeper caring within him," Bro. Yadzinski said, since that afternoon. "Every time we see someone homeless or in need, he will comment as to how we can help them. We speak of how he has the power to change the world by establishing good morals within himself now and sharing them with everyone whose life he touches. I am proud to be a Pennsylvania Freemason because of the integrity, honor and respect it establishes within the fraternity and its individual members, and further emits to the community through its kindness worldwide."

Celebrating National Kindness Week at Masonic Village

Nov. 8 to 14, 2010, was National Kindness Week. Residents of the Masonic Village at Elizabethtown selected Nov. 12 as Random Act of Kindness Day. A letter sent to residents encouraged them to make an extra effort to do something nice for someone else, and some wore stickers to remind one another to participate. Included in the letter was a list of ideas ranging from paying for a cup of coffee for a stranger to sending a complimentary e-mail.

"We're trying to raise the consciousness on campus," Bro. and Dr. George Simms, Chairman of the resident wellness committee and member of Abraham C. Treichler Lodge No. 682, Elizabethtown, said of the event, which the committee would like to see become an annual tradition. "Part of wellness is the capacity to give of one's self in the service of others."

"It is a scientific and medical fact that it makes one feel better when one does an act of kindness," said Rev. and Bro. A. Preston Van Deursen, Director of Pastoral Care for the Masonic Village at Elizabethtown, and a member of the resident wellness committee and Ashara-Casiphia Lodge No. 551, Mount Joy. "It builds self-esteem, makes one gentler and more joyful, decreases stress, and can even decrease physical pain. There is the old Jewish proverb that states when our mind is focused off of ourselves, we forget our troubles."

"Let's put in motion the positive benefits that kindness offers our community and our fraternity," Grand Master Thomas K. Sturgeon said. "May we be on our way to making EVERY day a Random Act of Kindness Day!"

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