The Masonic Matching Charity Grants Program is a big hit among the lodges of Pennsylvania. In just three months, there have been 95 Matching Grant applications from 74 lodges representing an estimated total of over $101,000. As of Apr. 17, there had been 45 grants made, totaling $40,077. Only three applications were rejected, and only nine applications were returned for further information or clarification.
The Masonic Matching Charity Grants program is already a huge success, as the variety of beneficiaries can attest. Charitable gifts have been granted to numerous causes, including the American Cancer Society, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, numerous scholarships, the Scotland School for Boys, many school athletic and musical activities, several historic preservation programs, and six with catastrophic medical bills.
Every grant provides a "feel good" story which lodge members can share with their family and friends. Here is just one of those stories.
Edenburg Lodge No. 550, Knox, wanted to help the single mother of a local family, who needs to receive a bone marrow transplant, but needs between $25,000 and $30,000 to cover donor expenses, in addition to her treatment, which is covered by insurance. In January, the members of the Lodge voted to help by conducting a chicken and biscuit dinner at a local community building. On their preliminary application, they estimated that they would make approximately $1,700.
The dinner was held on Feb. 28 and was an overwhelming success, raising $3,492, which will be matched, to make a gift from Edenburg Lodge No. 550 of $6,984! As Worshipful Master Stephen J. Perez, P.M., tells it.
"With the help of the entire Lodge interacting and working within the community, no expenses were incurred for the dinner. All supplies, hall space, and help were donated. The community reacted with great support and some surprise at seeing the Masons working visibly and in large numbers for a local cause. No doubt because of the visibility of the Lodge and the large donation we are about to make for a local cause, membership development is in the making. It is our estimation that the Matching Grants Program is a good one, and should be continued 'for the good of Freemasonry in general, and this Lodge in particular'."
Other grants were awarded, as follows:
Garfield Lodge No. 559, DuBois, granted $500 to help purchase equipment for the neo-natal unit of the DuBois Regional Medical Center, a non-profit agency.
Philadelphia Potter Lodge No. 72 of Philadelphia, granted $500 to sponsor the Junior ROTC Battalion Military Ball, a formal event for the students at the Scotland School, a facility for needy and at-risk children of Pennsylvania's War Veterans.
Carbondale Lodge No. 249 granted $250 to assist in the construction of a public neighborhood playground by Our Lady of Mount Carmel School.
Frankford Lodge No. 292, Philadelphia, granted $5,000 to support the low-cost in-home care given by visiting nurses and aides through the Community Care Center of the Northeast.
Ashara Lodge No. 398, Mount Joy, granted $100 to sponsor a bowler for the Bowl-For-Kids-Sake bowl-a-thon to support Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Lancaster County.
Andrew Hershey Lodge No. 764, Lancaster, granted $100 to support Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Lancaster County.
REMEMBER THAT ALL OF THESE AMOUNTS ARE DOUBLED by the match of lodge and Grand Lodge funds; but the actual presentation is made via one lodge check, without mention of the Grand Lodge's involvement. The Lodge and its members are to have the credit for this contribution in their home community.
As most of these grants are very recent, we haven't realized yet what effect they have had on generating good relations for the lodge; but we do know this: the Masons in these communities have reached out and touched the lives of many people by their generosity and concern for their fellow man.
The excitement generated by this program is contagious. Some members who had not been regular in their attendance at lodge meetings have suddenly shown interest again, because they can contribute a real service to their community by giving time, money, and talent to a lodge charity fund-raiser. This is what our members want to do. This is what they obligated themselves to do. This is what they expect to do as Masons.
And this is the beginning of the fulfillment of the purpose of the Masonic Matching Charity Grants Program. When we share our charity we become better men, better lodges, a better Fraternity-- and that, in and of itself, will give non-members "a favorable opinion of this, our Ancient and Honorable Fraternity" and encourage them to seek membership in their local lodge.