Volume LVIIAugust 2010Number 3

Celebrating Our Youth!

Left-right: Cynthia Balmer; R.W. Grand Master Thomas K. Sturgeon; Ryan Oatman, Jr.; and Virginia Migrala, Director, Children's Services, plant a tree to memorialize the life the graduating seniors added to the children's home and their lasting ties to the Masonic Village.

The 87th Annual Youth Appreciation Day, held May 28, celebrated the scholastic and extracurricular achievements of the 36 residents at the Masonic Children's Home, honored donors for their support and showed appreciation for staff and family members who help the youth succeed daily. Certificates, awards and medals were handed out recognizing youth for everything from perfect school attendance to service in the community to having a great sense of humor.

Participating in the annual tree planting ceremony along with this year's graduating seniors, Cynthia Balmer and Ryan Oatman, Jr., were R.W. Grand Master Thomas K. Sturgeon and Virginia Migrala, Director, Children's Services.

Cynthia came to the children's home in March 1998 from Middletown and is sponsored by West Shore Lodge No. 681, Camp Hill. She was 6 years old when she arrived with her three sisters, Dana, Danielle and Melissa. In school, she received numerous medals, trophies and varsity awards for cheerleading competitions and worked with second graders in language arts, math, social studies and science. Cynthia will work toward a bachelor's degree in health sciences or elementary education at Shippensburg University, where she has been selected as a member of the university's cheerleading squad.

Ryan Oatman, Jr., came to the children's home in October 2009 from Elizabethtown, and is sponsored by Abraham C. Treichler Lodge No. 682, Elizabethtown. He has turned hardships into an enduring pursuit of knowledge by taking advanced placement courses and being a positive role model at the Weller Cottage. He will work toward an associate degree in humanities, languages and arts education at Harrisburg Area Community College and will then transfer to Penn State University to study philosophy and education.

Both Cynthia and Ryan graduated from Elizabethtown Area High School on June 10 and are extremely appreciative of every opportunity the Masonic Village and Freemasonry have been able to provide for them.

As he addressed the graduating seniors and the audience, Grand Master Sturgeon said,

"I continue to be amazed at how so many young people can benefit from this wonderful fraternity. People in Pennsylvania have come to recognize, more than ever before, that there is more to Freemasonry than meetings and ritual as they have come to witness the true goodness of our charitable efforts. These young people are smarter, more polite, have stronger social skills, an appreciation for patriotism and are overall better prepared for life because of the home and the care they have been given. It makes me proud to be a Pennsylvania Freemason."

We wish Cynthia and Ryan the best of luck with their future endeavors, and congratulate all the youth at the Masonic Children's Home for another successful year of hard work in school and within the community.

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