|Volume LIX||May 2012||Number 2|
Community Service Initiatives
Brethren truly have been springing into action over the last few months. Upping the ante for lodge-sponsored blood drives, food drives, community clean ups and sponsorships, members are increasing awareness of the Masonic fraternity in their local communities. On a personal level, they're also offering help and hope for friends and strangers. Don't forget to enter your lodge community service initiatives and random acts of kindness on the registry at http://www.pagrandlodge.org/rak/index.html.
A Sign of the Times
Thomas Miller, son of Bro. Bill Miller, P.M., Saucon Lodge No. 469, Coopersburg, has a long family history with Freemasonry: his grandfather, uncle and two great-grandfathers all have been members. His mother and great-grandmother have been involved in the Order of the Eastern Star. For his Eagle Scout service project, Thomas could think of no better way to honor his family and promote the good works of Freemasonry than to make a sign for Saucon Lodge to expose it to the local community.
"The lodge is important to my family, the members and the community," Thomas said. "My hope is that [the sign] will give the lodge a chance to expand membership and exposure in the community. ... Becoming an Eagle Scout is a big accomplishment. I am proud of my work, and one day I plan to join Freemasonry."
Fires cause the deaths of an estimated 40,000 to 150,000 pets each year, primarily due to smoke inhalation. To prevent such tragedies, Bro. William J. Sopp, P.M., Oasis Lodge No. 416, Edinboro, and his wife, Patty, have donated 25 pet oxygen mask kits to local fire departments through Project Breathe. They learned about the project through the parent company of their business, Invisible Fence Brand® of Erie, which has donated more than 10,000 masks to fire stations nationwide. Each kit includes a small, medium and large mask and costs approximately $65. Their goal is to donate one kit to each of the 200 fire stations in their area. In early January, one of the masks they donated helped to save the life of a cat badly injured and burned in a house fire.
"We are excited to do the program, as it is just a feel-good, heart-warming project," Patty, P.W.M., Albion Chapter No. 22, and Appointed Grand Chapter Committee Member, O.E.S., said. "Each time I donate to the fire departments, I say, 'I hope you never have to use them.' We are not the heroes here - the true heroes are the firefighters!"
A Heroic Effort
Bro. David "Scotty" Bolton, Patmos Lodge No. 348, Hanover, and Hebron Lodge No. 465, New Oxford, believes community cleanliness is everyone's responsibility. To bring the issue to light, Bro. Bolton walks along Main Street in McSherrystown with garbage bags cleaning up litter. What makes his efforts attention-grabbing is the Superman costume he wears to do so.
Bro. Bolton has been making public appearances as "The HanoverSuperman" since 2005. He usually appears at charitable events, such as the Hanover Chili Cook-off, which benefits the Gutherie Memorial Library in Hanover; Saturdays on Main Street's "Chalk It Up" (a sidewalk chalk-drawing competition for children); the United Cerebral Palsy of South Central PA fund raisers; and others. He collects two to three industrial-size bags of garbage in a "single swipe." Turkey Hill donates the bags and allows Bro. Bolton to use their dumpsters.
"As a child, I told my mother that when I grew up, I wanted to be a professional baseball player or Superman. Baseball didn't pan out!" Bro. Bolton said. "I have since become a member of the world-wide group 'The Real Life Super Heroes,' an organization of like-minded (and costumed) people in various states and countries who go out into their communities and look for ways to better them while promoting peace and morality."
Help During the Holidays
This past holiday season, members of Old Fort Lodge No. 537, Centre Hall, helped four families through the local food bank by giving $150 in gift cards to each family. One member, alone, donated $200. The families greatly appreciated the much-needed assistance.
Polar Bear Plunge
To raise money for the Special Olympics, brethren from the 2nd Masonic District participated in the Polar Bear Plunge at City Island in Harrisburg on Feb. 4. The event raised a total of $175,000, of which the brethren raised $4,000.
"The water was a tad chilly, but it was for a good cause, and we are already recruiting for next year!" Bro. Scott Matincheck, District Deputy Grand Master for the 2nd Masonic District, said.
Small Items Make a Big Difference
The National Sojourners-Harrisburg Chapter No. 76 collected seven boxes of toiletries, including toothpaste, shampoo, shaving cream, hair spray, tissues, liquid hand soap, bar soap etc., for residents at the Masonic Village at Elizabethtown who receive fraternal care. Fraternal care provides nursing, personal care and children's services to residents whose savings, insurance or public assistance does not fully cover the cost of their care. Masonic Villages gives these residents a monthly allowance for incidentals, and this donation will enable their funds to go a little further.
"These types of items are exactly what residents are paying significant amounts of money for, so this donation will be a huge help to those receiving fraternal care who are on such a tight budget," Tiffany Moyer, social worker in the Freemasons Building personal care residence, said.
"Funding for people receiving fraternal care is limited, and we decided this was something helpful we could do for our fellow brothers and their spouses living at Masonic Village," Bro. Glenn Kurzenknabe, president, National Sojourners-Harrisburg Chapter No. 76, said.
Ride for the Cure
Bro. Bob Earle, Sr., Bristol Lodge No. 25, was a motorcycle rider who passed away from brain cancer. In honor and memory of Bro. Earle, members of Bristol Lodge, the Widows Sons Riding Association Grand Chapter, the Sons of Abiff, Bristol, his friends and family held the 2nd annual Ride to Cure Brain Cancer on Sept. 25, 2011. The 30-mile ride raised more than $5,000, and included a picnic at Newtown Lodge No. 427, Woodside.
Keeping America's Promise
Brethren from Tri-County Lodge No. 252, Donora, held their first "America the Land I Love, Keeping the Promise of America, Masonic of the Mon Valley" event on July 30 at the Herman Mihalic Boat Launch and Park. Other lodges in Masonic District 31, Order of the Eastern Star Chapters, Rainbow Girls Assemblies, Job's Daughters Bethels, DeMolay Chapters, Pittsburgh Shrine Clowns, Hiram Riders and other Masonic bodies contributed to the event's success.
Proceeds earned by participating groups went toward individual projects within their communities. The event was the brain child of Bro. Robert Dojonovi. Bros. James H. Staff Jr., W.M., P.M., and Dennis Gutierrez, P.M., chaired the day's activities.
The event included color guards and band boosters from two local school districts, Monessen Mayor Jo Smith, a Mon Valley Fire Department's Battle of the Barrel competition and car cruisers. Food, entertainment, the Kennywood Park trolley and Uncle Sam kept the crowd in good spirits. Bro. Robert Farquhar, District Deputy Grand Master for District 31, explained and handed out information about the different Masonic bodies, their functions and philanthropies. The Valley of Pittsburgh performed the Lincoln Degree on stage. The event concluded with the awarding of trophies and a fireworks display.
"The basic purpose was to let people in the area know what the fraternity is all about and the works that we do in the community," Bro. Staff said. "We are hoping to make this an annual event that grows every year."
A Brother in Need
In Case of an Emergency
Waverly Lodge No. 301, Clarks Green, made a donation which enabled the Abington Area Community Parks to purchase an automated external defibrillator (AED). An AED is a portable electrical device which automatically diagnoses, treats and corrects potentially life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias (heart beats).
The 100-acre park features a lake for fishing, nature trails, a dog park, picnic tables, soccer and football fields and hosts a summer youth camp. As the temperature rises and more people gather in the park, having this valuable piece of equipment on hand could be the difference between life and death.
A Sign of Support
A sign was erected in honor of Everett Lodge No. 524 at the Everett Little League
field for its more than 100 years of supporting the local community.
Holiday Breakfast Feeds Hundreds
A Hot Meal on a Cold Day
During the aftermath of the great October snowstorm of 2011, many residents in the Birdsboro area were without power for an extended period of time. The officers of Union Lodge No. 479 decided to serve a free breakfast for those still without electric service. Fifteen brethren volunteered to help without hesitation.
"Although we expected more people to take advantage of our offer, we were pleased to serve approximately 70 people, and each was very grateful," Bro. William Herz said. "So grateful in fact, that we received $140 in donations pledged for our county food bank. It goes to show that one kind deed will be answered by another."
A Year of Giving Back
Throughout 2011, the brothers of Brownsville Lodge No. 60 have participated in several examples of "giving back to our community." The lodge, chaired by Bros. Ernie Bradmon and Scott Campbell, sponsored three blood drives in conjunction with Masonic Blood Club chairmen Bro. Dave Metheny, Loyalhanna Lodge No. 275, Latrobe; Bro. Richard Black, Tri-County Lodge No. 252, Donora; and the Central Blood Bank. The drives collected a total of more than 270 units of blood. One blood drive directly supported three area youth facing serious medical conditions. Three more blood drives have been scheduled for 2012.
Brownsville Lodge also supported the 8th Annual Oldies Dance to benefit the Pittsburgh Autism Society through donations of funds and volunteer time. Last year's event raised more than $7,800. Since Bro. Campbell and his wife, Kathy, started this event in 2004, it has raised more than $40,000 for the Autism Society.
A Diamond in the Rough
As a community service project, Bethel Lodge No. 789, Lower Burrell, "adopted" Summit Street Park in New Kingston in 2011. Nine volunteers spent almost 30 hours cutting grass, pulling and spraying weeds, landscaping, cleaning up trash, sanding and repainting playground equipment, spreading sand in the bocce court and replacing an old sign.
"As a charitable community service organization, [we] felt the Summit Street Park was a diamond in the rough, and with renovation and maintenance could be a considerable asset to the families of the Mount Vernon community," said Bro. Steve Baksis, P.M., W.M.
Throughout the renovations, several community members stopped by to express their gratitude for the members' work. The Mayor of New Kensington honored the lodge at a city council meeting with a certificate, and the Valley News Dispatch published an article about their efforts. Lodge members who live near the park have since noticed neighborhood children increasingly visiting the park.
William Slater II Master Masons Club
Eyes on the Skies
Bro. Gerald H. Owens, P.M., Corry Lodge No. 365, may be retired, but he keeps busy, especially in the winter months, as an amateur radio operator. As a certified Skywarn storm spotter for the National Weather Service, he reports on snowfalls to the weather service, area news outlets and other individuals.
Bro. Owens, call sign W3GHO, in his amateur radio room.
CHIP Event a Success
Mount Zion Lodge No. 774, McConnellsburg, sponsored a CHIP event on Dec. 2 and 3 during the Fulton County Chamber of Commerce's Christmas in McConnellsburg Celebration. Volunteers provided parents with 97 CHIP kits. On the first night, members of Mount Moriah Lodge No. 300, Huntingdon, joined the brethren to train for their first CHIP event, which they held in May.
"They were learning 'under fire' since we identified 68 children in a little over two hours," Bro. Robert Snyder, District Deputy Grand Master for Masonic District 34, said.
First row, left-right: Parker Cummings; Kelly Cummings, Martha Custis Chapter No. 342, O.E.S.; Jenny Buterbaugh, Bethel No. 16, Job's Daughters; Bro. John Mumma, Mount Zion Lodge No. 774; Kayla Cummings, Bethel No. 16; and Dora Housekeeper, Bethel No. 16.
Second row, left-right: Debra Buterbaugh, Fulton Chapter No. 519, O.E.S.; Janice Bragunier, Bethel No. 16; Tiffany Bragunier, Honor Queen, Bethel No. 16; Jenny Culler, Central Fulton School District; Bro. Jeramy Culler, Mount Zion Lodge No. 774; and Bro. Paul M. Johnston, P.M., Mount Zion Lodge No. 774.
Third row, left-right: Bro. Randall Clever, W.M., Mount Zion Lodge No. 774; Koby Bragunier, George Washington DeMolay Chapter; Bro. Shawn Cummings, Orrstown Lodge No. 262; Bro. John Daniels, S.D., Mount Zion Lodge No. 774; Eldon Martin, County of Fulton; and Bro. Robert C. Snyder II, D.D.G.M. for District 34.
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