Volume LIXNovember 2012Number 4

Random Acts of Kindness & Community Service
"The point is not to pay back kindness but to pass it on."
- Julia Alvarez, Dominican-American writer

Performing random acts of kindness and community services not only helps the recipients, it inspires those around you. This is all the more reason to share your efforts online. Visit http://www.pagrandlodge.org/rak/index.html to enter your lodge community service initiatives and random acts of kindness on the registry. Not sure what to do? Read on for ways brethren have been making a difference in their communities.

An Unforgettable Act

On Dec. 10, 2010, Bro. John Groves, 33?, P.M., Harry A. Houseman Lodge No. 717, Bristol, was attending Kensington Kadosh Commandery No. 54 stated conclave. His wife, Joan, was also there for the Ladies Auxiliary meeting. Joan received a call from a neighbor that their home was on fire. They left the meeting and arrived home to see fire trucks and people all over the place. Lucky for the Groves, the fire was mainly confined to the outside of the house. Power was cut off by PECO, however, so they were without heat or power.

They were staying with neighbors when they received a call from another neighbor, Bro. John Bellenzeni, Prospect Lodge No. 578, Prospect Park. He told them, "You can move into my house." Bro. Bellenzeni's house was for sale and was unoccupied, so the Groves, along with their dog, moved and stayed in his house for three months while their home was repaired. Bro. Groves is now retired and relocated to West Virginia, but will never forget the kindness he received during a difficult time in his life.

"This is a true Mason, and he should be recognized as such," Bro. Groves said. "Thank you, Brother John."

Quiet Cleaner

Bro. Donald Muston keeps his road trash-free.

Unbeknownst to many of his neighbors, Bro. Donald Muston, Abraham C. Treichler Lodge No. 682, Elizabethtown, has been picking up the trash along the road (about one mile in length) where he lives for more than 30 years.

"Several times a year, young mothers I see on the road tell me how nice it is to be able to walk where there is no accumulation of trash along the road," Bro. Muston said. "Think of the positive impact if every Mason cleaned just 200 feet of road each spring and fall."

Prison Visits

Through the Men's Club of Beth Sholom Congregation in Elkins Park, Bro. Bob Lankin, W.M., P.M., Brotherhood Lodge No. 126, Philadelphia, has visited prisoners and conducted religious services for the Jewish Congregation at Graterford for more than 25 years. He recently learned one of the offenders was being released at the end of the summer. His lodge agreed to support the ex-offender with a $250 stipend for clothes from its charity fund.

400 Miles in Support of Wounded Veterans

On May 1, two retired Marines, Bro. Michael Dreisch, Warren Lodge No. 240, Montrose, and Joe Barletta embarked on a 400-mile journey across the state. Their goal was to bring awareness to and support for Hunts for Healing, a local organization which raises funds to take wounded veterans from across the country hunting, fishing, camping and other outdoor activities at no cost to the participants.

Bro. Dresich served during the Gulf War and in Somalia. He and Barletta, who served during Vietnam, are both wounded soldiers themselves. They didn't hesitate to volunteer for the trek because "it is far too important that our men and women in uniform receive every bit of support that we can give them," Bro. Dreisch, chairman of fundraising for Hunts for Healing, said. "We are 100 percent volunteer, so 97 percent of all funds raised go to creating programs for our soldiers."

They started at mile marker 0 on the Ohio border and traveled along Route 6 with a goal of walking 20 miles per day. Support along the way was incredible, according to Bro. Dreisch. Many people donated money for Hunts for Healing, as well as water, ice, food or a place for him and Barletta to lay their heads at night.

Despite two months of training, Bro. Dreisch's knee gave him trouble, and he had to sit out after 11 days. On May 18, Barletta was greeted by a police escort, Tunkhannock School Marching Band, fire sirens, courthouse employees and County Commissioners as he arrived at the Wyoming County Court House at the conclusion of the journey.

In the future, Bro. Dreisch is "thinking about a less impact idea - either biking across PA or maybe doing a motorcycle ride."

For more information about Hunts for Healing, to volunteer as a mentor or donate funds toward the organization's eight to 10 programs a year, visit www.huntsforhealing.com or follow it on Facebook.

Joe Barletta and Bro. Mike Dreisch depart on their journey across the state.

Paying It Forward with Masonic Ambassador Program

Lodge No. 62, West Reading, recently initiated a Masonic Ambassador Program including pocket-size cards which represent a reminder for current members of their Masonic heritage and an invitation for non-members to learn more about the fraternity.

"As we spread out in our daily lives practicing those principles of religion and morality that are taught within the lodge and we find ourselves in a position to offer a random act of kindness, we should also remember that we are creating a positive moment of truth for Freemasonry," Bro. Timothy Honey, lodge chaplain, said.

The purpose of the Masonic Ambassador Program is to:

  1. Increase a positive public profile.
  2. Serve as an enhancement to the already existing sense of Masonic pride.
  3. Remind Masons it is their mission to spread the mortar of brotherly love and to serve their fellow man with respect and humility.
  4. Lead by the example Masons set, as they are representatives of Freemasonry in general and Lodge No. 62 in particular.

Each member of Lodge No. 62 received two plastic business cards (see image above, center). When a brother performs a random act of kindness and the recipient asks how he can repay the kindness, the Mason can reply by presenting the card in a manner appropriate to that particular situation.

"This will gently encourage recipients to consider their own actions toward their fellow man, and hopefully, perform future acts of kindness themselves," Bro. Honey said. "A simple act of kindness will have a tremendous and positive impact and glorifies God."

Cooking Up Some Community Service

Community service committee members from King Solomon's Lodge No. 346, Connellsville, volunteered to serve dinners at Wesley Church to help raise money for the Wesley Health Center (a free county-wide health center for people who do not have adequate health coverage). A spaghetti dinner was held April 21, and a chicken and biscuit dinner was held May 5.

Shown at the spaghetti dinner are (left-right): Bros. Donald B. Moreman, J.W.; Kenneth R. Brooks; Warren C. Vail, W.M.; James W. Hines, Sr., P.M.; Richards S. Witt, P.M.; Robert A. McLuckey; and Bruce I. Jaynes.

Honoring a Past Brother

On April 19, Argyle Lodge No. 540, Chicora, presented a check to Susan Myers from the Samuel B. David Bequest Fund. The $5,000 check is for her 15-year-old daughter, Brittany. A Past Secretary, who knew the family was going through some rough times, recommended her. Brittany's father, Bro. Robert Heller, was a member of Argyle Lodge. He passed away in May 2011.

Bro. Shane F. Connor, W.M.; Susan Myers; and Bro. Emilios V. Sforza, D.D.G.M. for District 27.

Community Days

Bros. Kirk B. Thomas, P.M., and Mitchell D. Goldstein, S.W., from Philanthropy Lodge No. 225, Greensburg, volunteered during Greensburg Community Days over Memorial Day weekend. These brothers, as well as members of Westmoreland Chapter of DeMolay, contributed their time to show support and commitment to community involvement.

Bros. Mitchell D. Goldstein, S.W., and Kirk B. Thomas, P.M.

Fundraiser Supports Multiple Charities

Juniata Lodge No. 282, Hollidaysburg, held a 200 Club raffle fundraiser on June 9 at the Swiss Club in Altoona, where about 320 guests turned out. The event raised $5,600.

Organized largely by Brothers Justin Arthur and Jeff Kling, the officers spent months preparing for the event and selling tickets. All officers were busy throughout the night as Bro. Adam Nileski, S.W., acted as Master of Ceremonies and announcer; Bro. Paul Dodson, J.W., and Bro. Arthur were responsible for the pull tabs and raffle table; and Brothers Adam Osman, W.M., Calvin Yon, Kling and Jason Wilkinson sold tear-off tickets and pull tabs.

Out of 200 tickets sold, 20 individuals won $50 and three top prize winners took home $1,000 each. The lodge also awarded Pittsburgh Pirates tickets and dinners at the Allegro and the Olive Garden. During the evening, guests also took chances on select raffles and played pull tabs and other small games of chance. Catering was provided by Karen Rhoa.

"This event was an extremely successful fundraiser for our lodge. It far exceeded our expectations, and everyone seemed to have a great time," Bro. Nileski said.

With the proceeds from the event, the lodge was able to help with medical and family expenses for a local student, Dalton Igoe, who recently underwent a heart transplant. Members also donated funds to various local youth organizations and the Masonic Villages.

"Part of being a Freemason is being a good citizen and helping to give back to the communities we live in," Bro. Osman said. "The success of this fundraiser enabled us to do this more than we have been able to in recent years. This was truly a group effort from all our members."

Bros. Jeff Kling; Adam Nileski, S.W.; and Adam Osman, W.M., set up the raffle drawing board.

Saving Lives One Pint at a Time

Members of the 1st Masonic District held the first of their semiannual blood drives on June 23 at the Donegal Masonic Center and the Lancaster Masonic Center. The Central Pennsylvania Blood Bank collected donations.

Bro. Scott E. Baker, Ashara-Casiphia Lodge No. 551, Mount Joy, was in charge of the Donegal Masonic Center and Bro. Ray P. Greiner, Ephrata Lodge No. 665, was responsible for the Lancaster Masonic Center. Between the two locations, approximately 160 individuals donated blood.

Each pint of blood donated earned $10, which the 1st Masonic District donated to the Lancaster Dyslexia Learning Center. Every Mason who donates blood becomes a member of the Masonic Blood Donor Club for life. Membership entitles him and his family to free blood anywhere in the world, while saving a life at the same time.

Helping out at the Lancaster Masonic Center are (left-right): Bro. Dennis G. Peters, Sr., W.M., Lamberton Lodge No. 476, Lancaster; Bro. Ray P. Greiner, Ephrata Lodge No. 665, Principal of the School of Instruction; and Bro. Bill F. Gottschalk, Frankford Lodge No. 292, Philadelphia, District Chairman of the Masonic Blood Donor Club.
Bro. Scott Baker, Ashara-Casiphia Lodge No. 551, Mount Joy, donates blood at the Donegal Masonic Center.

Community Open House

Kittanning East Brady No. 244 and Seneca Lodge No. 805, both of Kittanning, joined together to host an open house and CHIP event at the Kittanning Masonic Temple on June 30. Brethren and members of the Order of the Eastern Star, Rainbow Girls, Scottish Rite and Rayburn Fire Department worked together for the cause. The STAT MedEvac helicopter also helped attract visitors.

Bro. Richard Cribbs, W.M., Seneca Lodge No. 805; STAT MedEvac co-pilot and pilot; Bro. Emilio Sforza, D.D.G.M. for Masonic District 27; and Syria Shrine clowns, Hobie (Bro. Ray Anderson, Armstrong Lodge No. 239, Freeport) and Dots (Bro. Jerry Sciullo, Seneca Lodge No. 805). Not shown is Bro. Richard Kirscht, W.M., Kittanning East Brady Lodge No. 244.

Annual Ox Roast

On Aug. 4, Ashara-Casiphia Lodge No. 551, Mount Joy, home of R.W. Grand Master Jay W. Smith, held its 19th Annual Ox Roast at the Donegal Masonic Center. Brethren and other volunteers served more than 700 meals, the largest number in the event's history.

The late R.W. Past Grand Master Scott Stoner started the ox roast to raise money for the lodge's charity fund. The event has grown every year in size and has generated more than $50,000 to date for the charity fund, which is used for scholarships and other acts of charity.

The event is a two-day work detail for all involved. The ox is cooked in a pit in the ground overnight and into the morning. This year, volunteers prepared 550 pounds of ox, 130 dozen ears of corn, 710 baked potatoes and all the other fixings needed to complete the meal. Guests could eat their meals at the banquet hall or take them home.

Grand Master Smith has always been a monumental part of this large undertaking, as well as many other brothers, wives, youth groups and friends. An average of 25 brethren was working at any given time, alongside many wives and 12 to 14 members of Job's Daughters and DeMolay.

"Everyone involved worked very hard on a very hot day as they enjoyed the fellowship and brotherly love," Bro. Larry A. Derr, District Deputy Grand Master for the 1st Masonic District, said. "We all look forward to the next ox roast in 2013."

Meat-slicing station with Bro. Larry Derr, D.D.G.M. for District 1 (left)

5K Raises 35K

Members of Warren Lodge No. 310, Collegeville, helped with the 4th Annual Marc Small 5K Run on Aug. 4 to benefit Small Steps in Speech. The lodge donated $250 and six brethren assisted with parking and the scouts water stations. This year, 560 runners and walkers participated in the 5K and raised more than $35,000.

Small Steps in Speech helps children with speech and language disorders. It was created in memory of SSG Marc Small, who was killed in Afghanistan while serving his country as a Special Forces medic. The non-profit organization provides grants to help children across the country receive therapy, treatments and communicative devices and other services aimed at improving their communication skills.

Left-right: Bro. Adam Sandt, Warren Lodge No. 310; Carol Staneruck; Bro. Bill Staneruck, P.M., Charity Lodge No. 190, Jeffersonville, and Norristown Lodge No. 620; Bro. Michael Kempster, Warren Lodge No. 310; Bro. Jim Armenti, Warren Lodge No. 310; and Bro. Jeff Kline, Warren Lodge No. 310.

Building Hope

On Aug. 18, brethren of the 54th Masonic District participated in a Habitat for Humanity Build-A-Thon. All lodges in the district supported the project financially, and members of Pollock Lodge No. 502, Tyrian Lodge No. 644 and Bethel Lodge No. 789 helped with the construction.

During the Build-A-Thon, volunteers built small sheds/playhouses which were auctioned off to raise money for Habitat for Humanity's mission of providing low-cost, interest-free homes to families currently living in substandard housing.

Left-right: Bros. Larry Shane, P.M., Tyrian Lodge No. 644; Ryan Shane, W.M., Tyrian Lodge No. 644; Hugh Rumbaugh, W.M., Pollock Lodge No. 502; Steve Baksis, W.M., Bethel Lodge No. 789; Tim Hawk, P.M., Bethel Lodge No. 789; and P.J. Roup, D.D.G.M.

Dash for Dad

In support of ZERO, the project to end prostate cancer, brethren from the 1st Masonic District hit the pavement for the Dash for Dad, a 5K run/1 mile walk, on Aug. 25 in Lancaster County Central Park. Sporting F. & A.M. District 1 team shirts, donated by Bro. Dennis Weller, P.M., Manheim Lodge No. 587, 21 runners and walkers raised $525. Bro. Andrew Zeamer, W.M., Columbia Lodge No. 286, Wrightsville, served as team captain.

The F. & A.M. District 1 Team received a medal for having the most members and raising the most money. Bro. Lee Barshinger, P.M., Manheim Lodge No. 587, received a medal for being the 5k Overall Male runner in his age bracket.

Bro. Lee Barshinger runs the Dash for Dad race.

Kindness Across State Lines

Thank you, to each and every one of my brothers in Lake Erie Lodge No. 347, Girard, Pa., for extending such great support to my son (a Mason) and daughter in their deepest time of need.

Their mother passed away indigent, and they were desperate to find a way to give her a proper memorial.

They turned to you for help, and in true Masonic support, you opened your lodge and arms to them in their hour of need. [The lodge hosted a memorial and wake for their mother.]

Also, someone there opened their wallets and donated $500 anonymously to the Edder Funeral home to help defray costs. They will not tell me who it was.

But once again, I feel the power of our brotherhood helping another brother and his family.

I know my lodge, University Lodge No. 631, Linworth, Ohio, is deeply indebted to you all.

If you ever find yourself in the Columbus, Ohio area, please stop in and say hello.

Thank you once again, Brothers.

I am indebted to you all.

MSANA Provides Disaster Relief to Couple

Bro. Wilbur Black, Ivy Lodge No. 397, Williamsport, and his wife, Pauline, a member of Monsey Chapter No. 321, O.E.S., Muncy, were displaced from their home after hurricane Irene in September 2011. Their home and contents were lost as a result of the flooding of Loyalsock Creek.

District Deputy Grand Master for District 18 Kenneth W. McClintock was instrumental in seeking funding for the Blacks from the Masonic Services Association of North America (MSANA) Disaster Relief Fund, which they were granted.

They are now in their new home at the same location, but at a higher elevation than their previous home, in which they had lived since 1969.

The Blacks were surprised by and very thankful for the financial assistance.

The MSANA was formed in 1919 to provide services to its member Grand Lodges that they would find difficult to provide for themselves. The primary functions and activities of the MSANA are to collect and forward funds for disaster relief around the world, offer educational and informational publications, provide information on Freemasonry to Masons and non-Masons alike, respond to critics of Freemasonry, and provide assistance and service to our sick or wounded veterans. For more information, visit www.msana.com.

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