Volume LVIIINovember 2011Number 4

Random Acts of Kindness

In January 2010, R.W. Grand Master Thomas K. Sturgeon put out a call to every Pennsylvania Freemason to commit to at least one Random Act of Kindness each week and every lodge to conduct monthly Community Service Initiatives for the next two years.

Almost two years later, countless brethren and their families have opened their hearts to help their friends and neighbors in the name of Freemasonry. Members' acts of kindness and lodges' community services have encompassed a wide variety of seemingly small gestures such as shoveling snow or paying another member's dues to large-scale fund raisers and renovation assistance. Whether you share your efforts or not, random acts of kindness and community service initiatives should always be on your "to do" list.

A Long-time Brother Trades in Bagels (excerpt from St. George Orthodox Cathedral's newsletter)

...Bro. Dick Nassar has been a lifetime Mason for over 50 years at Lodge No. 45 [Pittsburgh]. He's also a lifetime member of the Shriners and he belongs to the Jesters, Court No. 2. And if you nose around a little more, you'll learn another of his secret identities: Dick is also "The Bagel Man!"

Bro. Dick Nassar, the "Bagel Man"

It all started back in 1993. "At my breakfast place, sitting with my retired guy friends," Bro. Nassar explains, "I saw this one employee take a big bag of bagels and throw them into a garbage bin. So I went to the manager and asked, 'Have you ever thought of giving those to anybody?'" The manager said that he often thought of it but couldn't find anybody to pick them up. "Would you give them to me if I found good places for them?" The next day, Dick drove away with about 500 bagels in his trunk! Today, Bro. Nassar continues to find sources of extra abundance - breads, cookies and pastries - and matches them up with deserving shelters, churches and soup kitchens around Pittsburgh.

At St. Mary's alone - five days a week - he delivers up to 1,000 breads and pastries. The Presbyterian church feeds 80 to 100 each day, plus 30 men in an onsite shelter. Ronald McDonald [House] has a rotating guest list. And Jubilee [soup kitchen] feeds 125 people five days a week. "They hug me; they kiss me; they're all the nicest people. They're so appreciative."

... "I like making a difference, helping people less fortunate ... It's great for a retired person like me. It's an opportunity to get involved in the needs of other folks when you can do something good about it."

Anyone looking to develop a similar bread exchange can contact Bro. Nassar at (412) 441-1734 for tips, encouragement and practical advice.

Thanking Others for their Sacrifice

During a recent vacation to Ocean City, Md., Bro. William Brown, Secretary, Christiana Lodge No. 417, took notice of men wearing T-shirts or hats depicting military branches or combat zones in which they had served. He decided to start thanking these men for their sacrifice and service, and they were all very happy to receive his recognition.

"One individual who had served in Vietnam stood up and gave me a hug, and as tears started to show up, he told me that I was the first stranger to ever thank him, as those who served during that time were not treated very well upon their return home," Bro. Brown said. "We both agreed that it was long overdue."

Kindness Never Goes on Vacation

Bro. Michael Cangiarella, Carbon Lodge No. 242, Jim Thorpe, and his family were fortunate enough to enjoy a wonderful vacation in St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands in July.

While driving through the main town, his family noticed a homeless man sitting in front of a closed movie theater. The first night, they didn't think much other than, "that's a shame." The third night, they didn't notice him at all. The following night, Bro. Cangiarella's wife, Sara, said, "I wonder if that homeless guy will be there. I saw him digging through the trash last night."

"I thought there was no way I could enjoy the blessing of being able to enjoy the abundance of this vacation and allow this man to dig through the trash for food," Bro. Cangiarella said.

For the rest of their stay, the family ordered a little extra at dinner and dropped it off for the man. The act made an impression on Bro. Cangiarella's two sons, age 7 and 9. His oldest mentioned that instead of only donating his older toys he doesn't use anymore to charity, this year for Christmas, the family should "buy some new toys for the poor children."

"We will," Bro. Cangiarella said. "I was very proud."

Bro. Cangiarella has been active in his community, delivering meals from a soup kitchen to shut-ins and volunteering with the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Since joining the Masonic fraternity in June 2011, "the thought of giving has certainly moved to the forefront of my mind," he said. "I'm happy to be a part of the Masonic Renaissance and look forward to my journey in the years ahead."

Neighborhood Crime Stoppers

A neighbor of Bro. Corey Rosynek, Manoquesy Lodge No. 413, Bath, had his only means of transportation - a bike - stolen and asked Bro. Rosynek to keep an eye out for it. The neighbor later saw a teenager ride by on it and immediately gave chase.

Bro. Rosynek witnessed the chase and hopped in his vehicle, as his neighbor was losing ground on foot. They were able to identify the house where three boys took refuge. After police arrived, the boys ran, but were later apprehended. Police discovered five bikes which the boys had stolen from different parts of the town. The bikes were returned to their owners, including Bro. Rosynek's neighbor.

"A little teamwork and more willingness to not ignore the wrongs perpetrated on others, provides a better community for everyone," Bro. Rosynek said.

Assistance Across the Airwaves

Bro. Robert Mente, John A. Brashear Lodge No. 743, Pittsburgh, is a licensed amateur (ham) radio operator. One of the purposes of the amateur radio service (per FCC rules) is to provide emergency communication services in times of need. Operators do this at no cost to the community using their own radio equipment.

Bro. Mente is a trained storm spotter under the Skywarn program with the National Weather Service. One stormy night, he was running a Skywarn net (structured on-the-air meeting of ham radio operators) for the Allegheny County area, taking severe weather reports from other hams for the Pittsburgh National Weather Service office. An operator in the field came across a car in a flooded roadway and reported it to Bro. Mente, at which time he called the 911 dispatcher. Unfortunately, due to the high call volume because of the dangerous storms, he was unable to get a hold of them.

The operator radioed back to Bro. Mente that the police just arrived on the scene and were able to locate the driver of the vehicle, who was safe and sound. On a larger scale, hams provided emergency communications for the deadly tornado outbreak this past April in the southern states. They were able to communicate with the outside world immediately after the tornadoes ripped apart the general communication infrastructure, and stayed on until the normal communications grid was restored.

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