|Volume LIV||August 2007||Number 3|
Youth Appreciation Day
The 84th Annual Youth Appreciation Day was held on May 25, at the Masonic Village at Elizabethtown to honor
the 37 youth residing in the Masonic Children's Home for their various academic, athletic and
civic achievements. The theme was, "What is your promise for a better tomorrow?" This question
was perhaps best answered by the four graduating seniors, all honor students,
who will soon begin a new chapter in their lives as they continue their education to
prepare for their chosen careers.
Kristen Malasky-Norman, from Shermansdale, has been a resident since Oct. 29, 2000, and is sponsored by Abraham Treichler Lodge No. 682, Elizabethtown. She served as secretary of the National Honor Society and was selected to participate in the Knowledge Bowl for scoring in the top four of her class at Lancaster County Career and Technology Center (LCCTC). She cheered on the varsity cheerleading squad and was named All American Cheerleader in 2006, which qualified her to participate in the half-time show during the Orange Bowl on Jan. 2. During the past four summers, she has volunteered at Camp Victory for the PA Vent Camp. Kristen is employed by the Gymnastic Center of Hershey, where she coaches young girls. She will attend Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, as a pre-med student and plans to become a pediatrician.
"I can't believe I'm 18 and I'm graduating," she said at the celebration. "I want to say thanks for the opportunities that the Homes has made available to me and the dreams that they helped to make possible... And last but not least, I want to thank God for never giving up on me and blessing me with this loving family I have in front of me that will continue to grow."
Jacqueline Baez, from Lancaster, has been a resident since Nov. 6, 1998, and is also sponsored by Abraham Treichler Lodge No. 682. Jacqueline has already begun classes at Central Penn College in Summerdale, Pa., pursuing an associate of science degree in paralegal/legal studies.
During her senior farewell speech, she said, "I want to thank you for making me the person I am today. Because of you, I grew to appreciate things, to try new things, to respect others as well as myself, not to tattle and to learn to solve my own problems... I became more honest, respectful and, for the most part, a well-behaved young lady. Thank you, Masonic Children's Home, for helping me to make my dreams come true."
Richard Miller, from Dover, has been a resident since Aug. 6, 1999, and is sponsored by York Lodge No. 266. As an honors student at LCCTC, Richie has explored his goal of becoming a cardiology nurse. He also is very involved in church activities. Richie will attend Harrisburg Area Community College in York, pursuing an associates of science degree in pre-nursing.
"I want to say thank you to everyone who helped me to be the man I am, who was there when I needed them and never gave up on me. To all the Masons that are here today and that aren't here today, I say thanks for everything you have done, for creating a program like this... because without this place, I don't know where I would be. Because this place was created I know I have a chance to succeed in life. I want you all to know I will make a great nurse."
Stephen Cross, from the Philadelphia area, has been a resident since Aug. 20, 2000, and is sponsored by Prospect Lodge No. 578, Prospect Park. He has achieved many awards for football and weight training, and has volunteered at the Masonic Health Care Center, where he enjoyed the interaction with the elderly residents. After seeing so much crime in the Philadelphia area, Steve is determined to make a difference. He has begun classes at Central Penn College to pursue an associates of science degree in criminal justice.
"I never thought it would be this hard to say goodbye," Steven said in his emotional remarks. "It is so hard to only say thank you for everything my houseparents and my roommates have done for me. For everyone who will be graduating in the future, do me a favor: pursue your goals, don't let anyone tell you that you can't do something that you want to do or be in life. The words that others say are worthless; you have to have the drive to believe in yourself."
The celebration also included the traditional Bible presentations from Bro. and Rev. A. Preston Van Deursen, Director of Pastoral Care for the Masonic Villages and also a Masonic Children's Home graduate, and the Tree Planting Ceremony, during which the seniors plant a tree as a living symbol of their ties to the Masonic Children's Home. Bro. Albert Menger, III, Lansdowne Lodge No. 711, Lansdowne, representing the Patton School Alumni Association, presented the students with memberships. Ronald A. Aungst Sr., R.W. Grand Master, assisted with the presentation of the students' awards and shared an inspirational message: "No matter how much we provide to you, all is of no significance unless you believe in yourself and wish to strive to be better," he said. Then he addressed the graduating seniors: "How much we admire you and your accomplishments! We see you have grown significantly and are well prepared for your future careers. It gives us great pride as part of this Masonic fraternity that we are able to help you, and that in turn, you will be helping others."
The day concluded with the rededication of the Memorial Garden on the grounds of the Masonic Children's Home, recognizing the gifts from generous contributors.
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