Volume LVIIAugust 2010Number 3

Haiti Relief Fund

Just before 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 12, a 7.0-magnitude earthquake shook Léogâne, Haiti, a city located 16 miles west of the country's capital, Port-au-Prince. An estimated 230,000 people were killed, 300,000 were injured and 1,000,000 found themselves homeless.

For 10 employees of the Masonic Villages, living 1,500 miles away in Warminster and Lafayette Hill, Pa., the quake hit very close to home. Immigrants from Haiti, the employees have struggled to communicate with family and friends while trying to help in any way they can.

One employee (all names have been withheld to protect the privacy of the staff) described the helplessness she felt as she called and called, but could not reach her family living in Haiti. She finally contacted them and discovered most of her family was alive and safe, although her niece broke several ribs when her school collapsed on her. Many of her relatives' houses had collapsed and several families sought shelter at her mother's house. She later learned of countless friends and acquaintances who did not survive the earthquake.

Another employee shared that her niece, who has seven children, has not been heard from, and no one knows what happened to the children. "We just don't know," she said. "Sometimes it's hard to get information."

"I have to work to see money gets to [my family]," one employee shared. "I have three family members who lost their homes. My children and I held a garage sale to raise money for them. We sold half our clothes and dishes."

The staff members said they had been sending money, food, clothing and shoes to their relatives in Haiti long before the quake hit, although now they do so more often. According to the United Nations "Human Development Report" (2000), the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita is $300 in Haiti in comparison to the United States, where it is $29,683. An estimated 80 percent of Haitians live in absolute poverty.

With tears in her eyes, one employee, despite her family's situation, thanked God for the opportunities she has been given in the United States and for being able to help her family and others in any way. "I send them what I can," she said. "But I do not have enough money to help the whole country. I cannot just go and see my family because other people need help. It's difficult to turn your back on those people."

Another described receiving daily phone calls from relatives who need money. Every little bit helps, as even $20 may feed a family for a week.

To assist these employees' families, in appreciation for their hard work and dedication to caring for the residents of the Masonic Villages at Lafayette Hill and Warminster, the Congregation of Sell Chapel at the Masonic Village at Elizabethtown raised funds through its outreach ministry and donated three months of offerings. Masonic Village residents and employees, and individuals from as far away as Arizona, contributed to the relief fund. Distributed evenly among the 10 employees, a total of $16,050 was sent through a contact (whom all the employees had previously used to send money) in the Philadelphia area to Haiti on April 30. Confirmation that the money was received came through from several of the employees' families.

As they all cope with the aftermath of the earthquake, the Masonic Villages staff remain committed to their work as nursing assistants. One stated she likes to be at work because when she's at home, she cries. Another expressed how her co-workers and the residents are like family to her, and she looks forward to coming to work. Through strong faith and devotion to work and family, these 10 employees will see that any help they receive goes a long way.

"We are more than happy for your help," one employee said. "God bless you!"

"We really appreciate the support," another said. "Whatever you give, God gives back."

West African Brother Visits Masonic Village

Left-right: Bros. Russell Baker; Thomas K. Sturgeon, R.W. Grand Master; Moise Fiadjoe; and Joseph E. Murphy, CEO for the Masonic Villages

Hosted by Bro. Russell Baker, Howell Lodge No. 405, Honey Brook, Dr. and Bro. Moise Fiadjoe, a Sovereign Grand Commander from the West African country of Togo, recently toured the Masonic Village at Elizabethtown, where Bro. Baker resides. The two met at the 49th Conference of the Supreme Council of Europe in Athens, Greece, last year, and Bro. Fiadjoe expressed an interest in seeing and learning how a nursing home operates in the United States. His vision is to one day open one in Togo.

"He kept referring to our various dining rooms as 5-star restaurants," Bro. Baker said. "He was speechless about our facilities. I assured him it didn't happen overnight."

Bro. Baker gave Bro. Fiadjoe a copy of the "Masonic Village: 100th Anniversary" history book. Bro. William C. Davis, Jr., Abraham C. Treichler Lodge No. 682, Elizabethtown, chief operating officer - health care services, also provided Bro. Fiadjoe with procedural manuals regarding nursing care in Pennsylvania and the United States.

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