Volume LVIIINovember 2011Number 4

Eastern Star Adds Parents & Grandparents to Children's Lives

Pictured above: (back row, left-right): Virginia Migrala; Gloria Gates; Charlotte Renninger; Ann Berger; John Berger, Past Worthy Grand Patron; Paula Kauffman, Past Worthy Grand Matron; (front row) Autumn Schmitt; Shinely DeJesus; Veronica Vega; Alexis Diahn; and Aba Aggrey

When the school busses arrive home after a long day at school, the Masonic Children's Home transforms into a flurry of excitement. While some children settle down with a tutor to study, others take a break for basketball, working out, playing on the swing set or hanging out with friends who have become family. Because of the efforts of staff, volunteers and generous donors, the 40 kids living at the Masonic Children's Home now have the opportunities and resources to succeed and follow their dreams. In 2010 and 2011, the Grand Chapter of Pennsylvania, Order of the Eastern Star, made a concerted effort to support each of the youth when Past Worthy Grand Matron Paula Kauffman selected the Masonic Children's Home as her Special Project: Kindness will Inspire the Dreams (KID).

Members sold shirts, quilts and other items at Eastern Star Festivals and a pin featuring dancing children with profits benefiting the children. Each chapter also chose its own project to help raise money. Elizabethtown Chapter No. 407 designed a calendar which asked members to donate a few cents each day for various everyday tasks and objects, such as $1 if they voted or $.05 for every pair of shoes they own. Robert Fulton Chapter No. 446, Quarryville, auctioned off baked goods to raise funds. Morning Light Chapter No. 312, Hatboro, made a donation so the children could take art lessons.

"It's a very worthwhile project," Joan Ressel, Elizabethtown Chapter No. 407, Regional Appointment - Region 10A, said. "Anything you can do for kids is important."

Through these efforts, in June 2011, the Eastern Star presented a total of $93,382 to Virginia Migrala, director of children's services at the Masonic Children's Home. The money will go toward Wish List items such as refurbishing the cottages.

"Due to the current economy, we have been more prudent in the activities and materials we can provide. OES members are giving us the opportunity to do more things for the children," Migrala said.

Each region also "adopted" a child. Members sent cards for the child's birthday and holidays and scheduled visits. They also made the kids feel special by donating books and music lessons and planning special events ranging from bowling parties to a trip to an amusement park.

"These items all enhance the lives of the children, providing them a well-rounded environment which is comforting as well as fun," Migrala said. "We can't thank Eastern Star enough for all they've done for the children throughout the last year!"

One of the first events for the children included inviting the youth to the annual Unity Day celebration at DelGrosso's Amusement Park in August 2010. In addition to the rides and water park, the children enjoyed delicious food, games and the members' company during bingo.

A month later, Estrellita Chapter No. 512, Harrisburg, organized a picnic at the children's home for the kids including pumpkin painting, bocce and horseshoes. During the holiday season, the children were showered with cards and gift cards from members and chapters throughout the state.

"Paula Kauffman ... even personally stopped by my office to see if we had any additional needs that the Eastern Star could help meet," Migrala said.

In the new year, the Harrisburg Chapter held a Dr. Seuss party in March with crafts and food for girls in the Balliet Cottage, the youngest ladies at the children's home. The Elizabethtown Chapter also treated the Dougherty boys to a bowling party.

To celebrate the end of the school year in June 2011, youth from the Masonic Children's Home and members of Delphi Chapter No. 65, Altoona, had a pizza party. As retired school teachers, several of the Eastern Star members at the party were keenly aware of how important it is to celebrate the beginning of summer. As a token of appreciation for the party, the Masonic Children's Home brought out a cake printed with a note of thanks to the members.

The Masonic Children's Home provides a home for 40 school-age children who come from various socioeconomic environments which did not provide the security and support necessary for healthy growth and development. Residing in five cottages at the Masonic Village at Elizabethtown, the youth have access to tutors and medical services, and have the opportunity to participate in music lessons, sports or hobbies of their choice.

"[The Eastern Star members] have given above and beyond. It is so important for the kids to know that they're special and people care about them. ... Members are good with the kids, too. They encourage them, and the children develop an emotional attachment. It is like having a few extra parents and grandparents around. We can't thank them enough!"

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