Seventeen years ago the idea of the late Bro. Carl W. Stenberg, Jr., R.W.P.G.M., became a reality in the founding of the philanthropy that was first known as The Pennsylvania Masonic Foundation for the Prevention of Drug and Alcohol Abuse Among Children. Addressing additional community concerns and peer pressures for youth at-risk, the name appropriately was broadened to reflect fully its scope of services.
Among the first of the major projects started by the Foundation was the Student Assistance Program (S.A.P.), a joint effort with the Pennsylvania Board of Education, which helps educators in secondary school systems across the Commonwealth to identify and aid children with drug and alcohol related problems. Providing facilities, subsistence, and materials for training, the Masonic Foundation has made it possible for every secondary school in the state to have Student Assistance Teams. A state official has said, "Without the Masons, Pennsylvania would not have a Student Assistance Program."
An adjunct to that program is the annual awarding of Stenberg Scholarships to students who have completed student assistance programs successfully. Seven were awarded during the past year.
Teaming with the Pennsylvania D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) Agency, the Foundation assists in training D.A.R.E. law enforcement officers in the Commonwealth to teach fifth and sixth grade students to handle peer pressures and say "No" to drugs and alcohol. More than 700 law enforcement officers have been trained thus far and several classes are held each year.
The scope of the Foundation's caring has extended through the years, to include numerous programs in conjunction with government and private agencies. For example, included are: "Every Thirty Minutes," the statewide anti-drunk driving program for teens; the "Charlie Check First" children's safety program in the Pittsburgh area; the Adopt-a-School program with the Federal Bureau of Investigation; a teen coffee house with computers and camera equipment in the Scranton area; and many more.
Addressing the serious national problem of violence among youth, the Foundation developed Project Care, a series of anti-violence lectures and seminars. As a pilot for a new program in Philadelphia, Joseph H. Brown Lodge No. 751 and the F.B.I. are adopting an elementary school. The F.B.I. speakers will run a junior F.B.I. program for children in the fourth grade and lodge members will serve as mentors.