Volume LIXAugust 2012Number 3

Help for Our Heroes

Pennsylvania Freemasons have supported the Pennsylvania National Guard and Air National Guard for the past four years and have established strong relationships. Col. and Bro. Harris Brooks hosted a meeting at the Grand Lodge on June 22, at the request of the Pennsylvania Guard's State Family Support program leadership, to discuss new opportunities to work together in support of the families of Pennsylvania Guardsmen who either just deployed or who will be deployed over the next four to six months. Thousands are expected to be deployed from Pennsylvania within that timeframe.

As shown in the photo above, the meeting was attended by MAJ Ed Shank, CPT Paolo Sica, SGM Mark Todero and TSgt Joel Mutschler, all from the Pennsylvania National Guard and all Pennsylvania Masons. Representing the Grand Lodge was Bro. Thomas Long, Col. and Bro. Harris Brooks, and R.W. Deputy Grand Master Bob Bateman.

"I truly wasn't surprised to find out that the leadership of the organization within the Pennsylvania National Guard responsible for caring for the families within their own military community would all be Pennsylvania Masons," Col. and Bro. Brooks said.

At the meeting, CPT and Bro. Paolo Sica presented the Grand Lodge with a beautiful flag in a special Pennsylvania National Guard display box in gratitude for all the past support of the National Guard by the Grand Lodge. R.W. Deputy Grand Master Bob Bateman accepted the flag on behalf of R.W. Grand Master Jay W. Smith.

Together, the group has planned various ways to provide Help for Our Heroes. This summer, Pennsylvania Masons will sponsor a bus trip for the families of our military members who are unable to take their own family to a theme park. We will send 110 children who have at least one parent deployed overseas to enjoy a fun-filled day at Great Adventure.

Last December, Pennsylvania Masons contributed to support a Christmas party for the military families with children with special needs. This year, we will be the sole sponsor of this event.

The "Help for our Heroes" program continues to support the veterans court in Pennsylvania with mentors. After the last issue of "The Pennsylvania Freemason," many brothers contacted Bro. Thomas Long for information about the program. Thank you for your responses! The immediate need of the courts is for qualified mentors to support the court in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area. Please continue to contact Bro. Long at (215) 520-8826.

R.W. Past Grand Master Thomas K. Sturgeon presents Bro. Tom Long a certificate
of appreciation from the Grand Lodge for all his efforts on the veterans court project.

Already this year, the Grand Lodge has held two baby showers at the McGuire-Ft. Dix-Lakehurst military base. Altogether, through Help for Our Heroes, we were able to support almost 60 new military families. As in 2011, we continue to financially help our most junior military members as they prepare to welcome their first child into their families. The March of Dimes continues to work with the Grand Lodge by providing an educational program and supporting the showers in many other ways.

The underlying theme in all the thank you letters from the families we have touched is that we have eased the stress of how they are going to support their new baby during his/her first year of life, as reflected in the following letter:

My husband and I are so grateful for the generosity of the March of Dimes and the Pennsylvania Masons. We are expecting our first child, and the gifts we were given will help us so much in preparing for his arrival.

We had a lovely time at the shower, and the cake and donuts were delicious.

As this is our first child, the education provided was also helpful since neither my husband nor I have any experience with babies.

Thank you so much for your kindness,

SSgt Sean and SSgt Rachel McLaughlin and Baby Declan

Photos: Moms and some of the Pennsylvania Masons who attended the June military baby shower including Col. Jon Spare, Vice Wing Commander at the 514th AW and member of Brotherhood Lodge No. 126, Philadelphia. Several Masonic ladies, including Mrs. Cheryl Brooks, wife of Bro. and Col. Harris Brooks, (shown in middle photo) help at each shower.

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