|Volume LVIII||November 2011||Number 4|
HELP FOR OUR HEROES
Photographs courtesy of Brian Richards, who, after attending his first military baby shower to photograph the event, has decided to join Brotherhood Lodge No. 126 during a One Day Masonic Journey in November.
2nd Military Baby Shower
On Aug. 6, the second Military Shower co-hosted by the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania and the March of Dimes honored 17 new moms-to-be with gifts, education and expressions of appreciation at the Community Center of the McGuire Air Force Base housing area.
Representing Grand Master Sturgeon were Brothers Charles Holloway, District Deputy Grand Master for District C and Bro. Harry Rutter, Grand Lodge Controller. Several brethren from Brotherhood Lodge No. 126, Philadelphia, also volunteered to help at the event.
Col. and Bro. Harris Brooks, who spearheaded the partnership between the Grand Lodge and the March of Dimes, said, "The parents were crying and in shock because they couldn't believe all that was done for and given to them." He said that the expectation was that this second group of shower attendees would know what to expect, but they were just as surprised as those who attended the first shower. "What we learned," he said, "was that they are not necessarily friends even though they're in the same situation. This shower actually provided them an opportunity to get to know each other and develop a support network."
What made an even greater impact was the realization that these young families "are away from home, and don't have friends or family nearby to throw them a shower," Bro. Brooks said. "If it weren't for us, they may not have had one." Other partners, such as Kmart, were generous in providing discounts and other items purchased for the military families.
Once again, the March of Dimes used the shower as an opportunity to educate the parents-to-be about why babies cry, some relaxation techniques to handle stress, how to stay healthy through exercise and how to avoid shaken baby syndrome.Veterans Courts are Growing; Need Your Help
Veterans Courts are quickly spreading across Pennsylvania, as their success, spurred by state Supreme Court Justice Bro. Seamus McCaffery, is recognized and appreciated. Pennsylvania Masons continue to provide vital support.
Understanding the unique hardships veterans face upon returning to civilian life after serving their country, the Veterans Court offers veterans charged with misdemeanor offenses a second chance. If an eligible veteran chooses to accept the terms of the offer to participate in this voluntary program, he or she is paired with a court-trained mentor. The mentor must be a U.S. military veteran willing to volunteer to support the veteran as he/she participates in appropriate treatments, programs and services available through the Veterans Administration. Together, they work toward a successful resolution of the criminal charges, including a change in life choices, so that future contacts with the criminal justice system can be avoided. The mentor serves as an ally, coach, role model and advocate, someone who listens to the mentee's concerns and makes general suggestions for resolving problems, providing support in a way that only another veteran can.
In a an effort to recruit volunteer mentors, Bro. Brooks approached the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) through Benjamin A. Masteridge Sr., State Commander 2010-2011, about partnering with the Grand Lodge in support of the effort. As of July 1, Tommy Tradewell took over the State Commander post for the VFW, and continues to team up with Pennsylvania Masons, including Brothers Sam Freemason, Anthony Stephanski, Danny McCaffery and Thomas Long, to set up meetings at various VFW posts in counties where Veterans Courts are in operation.
Prospective mentors learn an overview of the criminal justice system, Veterans Court procedures as well as insights on how to be an effective listener. If you would like to volunteer as a veteran mentor, contact Bro. Sam Freeman at (267) 902-0961.Calling Cards Continue to Keep Loved Ones in Touch
The Grand Lodge continues to send calling cards to Pennsylvania troops deploying to Afghanistan. (There is no longer a need in Iraq, as communications are available there.) Grand Lodge also is meeting the requests of individual Masons, their family members and friends serving in Afghanistan. The cards are still invaluable, as this email from Sept. 16 states:
We have used our last calling card that was shipped in July 2011. We have some from another company to send with the Airmen when they deploy - but your cards are the only ones that work overseas. 100 cards would be good when you can get them shipped [for the 193rd Harrisburg Special Operations Guard Unit]. Thank you so much for all you do.Ms. Sandy Scott
M Civ USAF ANG 193 FSS/FRG
Airman & Family Readiness Program
Manager, Middletown, PA
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