|Volume LVIII||November 2011||Number 4|
Community Service Initiatives
Honoring Local Heroes
In memory of Spc. Zachariah Long, Masonic Motorcycle Club Chapter 38, Watsontown, comprised of brothers from various lodges, presented a new flag to Milton Veterans Memorial Park on Memorial Day (May 30). Zach's father and Chapter 38 member, Bro. Rick Long, Watsontown Lodge No. 401, and his wife, Karen, helped hoist the giant flag.
Members of Chapter 38 donated the flag after learning a flag which previously flew in the park was in need of replacement. The Longs live near Milton and pass the park almost every day, so the members thought a new flag would be a fitting tribute to Zach, who was killed in 2003 in Iraq.
In Zach's memory, the chapter also donated money to a charity near and dear to the Longs, Hunts for Healing, a fund which sponsors outdoor programming for wounded soldiers returning from military missions and veterans. They also sponsored the Longs' participation in the "Let's Roll Flight 93 Memorial Ride" held Sept. 11 to raise money for the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, Pa.
Chapter 38 hosted the 5th annual Msg. Sean M. Thomas Memorial Ride on June 4 which included 200 participants and 160 motorcycles, making it the largest ride yet. The ride benefits an educational fund for Sean's daughter, Alexa, and Hunts for Healing. In just six hours, the event raised more than $3,000.
Members spent months planning the ride route, collecting raffle items and prizes, and promoting the event. The day was not only a great day to socialize, explore the back roads of Pennsylvania, and meet old and new friends, but more importantly, to remember Sean, who was killed during a rocket attack in Iraq on March 27, 2007.
"Since June of 2007, the Masonic Motorcycle Club Ch. 38 and its members have strived to keep Sean's memory alive so others may understand the sacrifice made to keep us all free," Bro. Andy Kline, Watsontown Lodge No. 401, said.
Cleaning Up a Sacred Space
About 20 members of Fayette Lodge No. 228, Uniontown, have spent weekends, weeknights and any time in between, trimming grass, removing brush, resetting grave stones and cutting down dead trees at the Oak Grove Cemetery.
The lodge has a historic connection to the cemetery, which contains a monument of the lodge's founder and first Worshipful Master, Bro. John Irons. Bro. Irons, along with six other Masons, are buried in the cemetery. When members went to maintain the plots, they saw the entire property in a state of disarray.
Bro. Irons' last wish before he died was to maintain this lot every year, according to Bro. Tom Gower, W.M. Knowing the cemetery was located on a main street leading into Uniontown, the lodge felt a responsibility to take care of it. Bro. Gower and his father, Charles, own Gower Excavation Co., and supplied much of the equipment for the project. The lodge formed a committee to track the maintenance.
"As Masons, we always try to help the community," Bro. Gower said. "We all try to pitch in and do what we can."
It will be an ongoing project, but members will soon have some additional helping hands and funds to handle perpetual care of the cemetery. Once a new Oak Grove Cemetery board is appointed, board members will be able to access a previously established trust fund.
Others have noticed the lodge's efforts. People driving by the site have offered thanks, and Bro. Gower has received several thank you notes from individuals who live out of town and can't maintain their loved ones' grave sites. Some notes have included donations to the lodge.
Fishing, Fun and Frosties!
Members of Chartiers Lodge No. 297, Canonsburg, volunteered their time and skills to help local grade school students with a Fishing Derby in May. The lodge also supplied hot dogs and beverages for the event, which the Park and Recreation Program of North Starbane Township coordinated at Canonsburg Lake.
Despite assisting the participants with baiting and hooking their lines, not many fish were biting. This didn't stop everyone from having fun and awarding ribbons to winners.
"Events such as this are a way for Freemasonry to be seen within community," Bro. Frank Howard III, W.M., said. "It helps dispel the idea we're a secret organization. It's also part of our general mission - helping people - an important aspect of being a good person and Mason."
The lodge also recently adopted a resident at the Masonic Village at Sewickley. Members will spend time visiting her and taking her out for meals. "We're planning various things to make her feel included," Bro. Howard said.
A Day at the Races
State Street in Erie turned into a two-lane race track for the All-American Soap Box Derby on June 25. Race sponsors included the 24th Masonic District. "It's an annual event in the community where Freemasonry joins with other groups which assist each other in making this a family event," Bro. Richard Fitzsimmons, District Deputy Grand Master of the 24th Masonic District, said.
Protecting Our Children
20th Masonic District
Lodges of the 20th Masonic District held a CHIP event on Aug. 14 as part of a fund raiser to benefit Rhiannon Kline, a 9-year-old living with cystic fibrosis. Activities also included a pig roast, entertainment, prizes, games and more with all proceeds benefiting the Kline family.
Brethren fingerprinted and photographed 29 children throughout the day and also helped with serving food, setting up, etc. Bro. Adam Nileski, J.W., Juniata Lodge No. 282, Hollidaysburg, coordinated efforts. Other members attending were: Bros. David W. Nileski; Paul R. Dodson; Edward J. Kertes; Justin A. Wilkinson; Jacob T. Krug; and Jason A. Wilkinson, P.M., W.M., all of Juniata Lodge No. 282, and Bro. Joseph V. Plutko, Hiram Lodge No. 616, Altoona. Their respective ladies also supported the event.
CHIPing Away to Keep Kids Safe
As part of Fulton County Center for Families "Kid's Fest" Celebration, members of Mount Zion Lodge No. 774, McConnellsburg, sponsored a Masonic CHIP event where they identified 50 children. Volunteers included members of Job's Daughters and the Order of the Eastern Star.
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