Volume LIXMay 2012Number 2

HELP FOR OUR HEROES


Your Continued Generosity is Vital & Greatly Appreciated

The Help for Our Heroes program has affected thousands of troops serving overseas, and their families, over the past four and a half years. As the needs of our deployed military change, our support services must, too. As Pennsylvania Masons are seen more and more visibly as supporters of our men and women in harm's way, we have been sought out to assist in various capacities. In order to do so, we need your continued generous support.

The Program is Expanding in Exciting New Ways!

R.W. Grand Master Smith is focused on expanding the program to provide for the changing needs of our military families, while also continuing the original intent of the program by providing pre-paid calling cards to troops deploying overseas through Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst and all reserve and national guard units in Pennsylvania flying out of Harrisburg.

In December 2011, the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania helped to sponsor a special Christmas party at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst for military families with children with special needs. Col. and Bro. Harris Brooks was approached by the base's Family Supports Services personnel with a request to help the party become a reality because they realized a financial shortfall while planning it. The Grand Lodge paid for more than half of the costs. Since many families with children with special needs are often uncomfortable among large groups, this event was intended to accommodate their needs so they could all enjoy the party.

"This was a wonderful program for the families and it made me proud to be a Pennsylvania Mason. I was honored to have been part of it," said Tech. Sgt. and Bro. Kevin Casciano, who attended the event on behalf of the Grand Lodge.

R.W. Grand Master Jay W. Smith attended the March 31 military baby shower. After experiencing first-hand the enormous feeling of appreciation from the families, Grand Master Smith has agreed, if sufficient funds are raised, to host four showers at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst this year - one each quarter. He also would like to begin hosting the baby showers at the Dover, Del., Air Force Base to accommodate these military families in need.

Please, keep those donations coming! These military baby showers ensure that our young junior enlisted soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines do not have to worry about the welfare of their newborn for the first year of his or her life. Each shower costs at least $25,000 to provide the parents-to-be with the formula and other necessities for their babies. Let's care for their families as they keep ours safe and free!

The Grand Lodge also has been approached by Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst about providing other support services for military families while moms or dads are deployed. For example, we have been asked to consider starting a program to provide bus trips for families with deployed parents to places such as Sesame Place, Great Adventure or the Philadelphia Zoo.

The support we have provided to the Philadelphia Veterans Court already has been recognized and is greatly appreciated by the Philadelphia and state court administrations. Efforts continue to start up veterans courts in other counties in the Commonwealth, and Karen Blackburn, with the state courts administration, has asked for our help, specifically in the Harrisburg and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton areas. Col. and Bro. Harris Brooks (pictured to the right) has been in contact with judges in both jurisdictions.

If you are a veteran and are interested in volunteering as a mentor, please contact Bro. Thomas Long at 215-520-8826. Bro. Thomas will be working directly with Col.and Bro. Brooks on this program, and will place interested brethren in direct contact with the court in their jurisdiction. After the application process is complete, training can begin.



A Letter of Thanks

I wanted to express my profound gratitude for the baby shower today. Just yesterday, I was stressing about how we were going to be able to afford everything we need for this baby. I can't believe that people are so generous and willing to help. ... I just really wanted them to know how much they have touched my life and how much my husband and I appreciate all that they have done for us. It's hours later and I am still speechless!!

This was such an incredible day and if their goal was to alleviate some of my stress ... well ... they've succeeded. I feel like I keep saying how amazing this all is for me, but I can't find any other words to say what I feel.

I've never experienced such caring and generosity from strangers ... people who really understand what it's like to have your spouse deploy, move all over the country on just a few weeks' notice and live with someone who is or be the person who is on-call at all times, ready to follow orders. This life isn't easy, but I scold those friends of mine who say the military stinks. There are parts of it that aren't fun, but I personally feel like we've always been taken care of. I was grateful enough to find out about the programs, classes and home visits that [March of Dimes] offer. What happened today was on a whole different level. Thank you so much for inviting me, again.

With sincere appreciation,
Kristina Reed


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