Masonic Angel Foundation Update
December4, 2003 - "MASONS MAKING A DIFFERENCE"
WELCOME TO OUR NEWEST MAFS
We are pleased to welcome the following new Masonic Angel Fund's:
#66 Charles River Lodge, Medway, MA 9/10/2003
#67 St. Albanís Lodge, Foxboro, MA 6/11/2003
#68 Friendship Lodge, Wilmington, MA 10/15/2003
#69 Darcy Lodge #37, Flemington, NJ 10/16/2003
#70 North Reading Lodge, North Reading, MA 11/17/2003
#71 Joseph Warren-Soley Lodge, Lincoln, MA 11/17/2003
#72 John Cutler Lodge, Abington, MA 11/25/2003
We note that the addition of Darcy Lodge #37 in New Jersey brings us to eight states with MAF presence.
MAF'S BUSIEST TIME OF YEAR
Anyone who has been part of the Masonic Angel Fund for very long already knows that the holiday season is our busiest time of the year. There are far too many children who will "go without" at this time of year. Indeed, here at the Foundation we feel that the "holiday benevolence season" started about two weeks earlier than usual.
If you haven't made contact with all of your schools in the last ten days or so do it now! Many school staff may believe that MAF benevolence does not extend to helping out at the holidays.
Those who have worked with their schools during the holidays are acutely aware that "holiday benevolence" does not mean that the kids get a visit to Santa's Toyland. Most of the nurses and counselors that we know usually emphasize winter clothing and basic necessities. Certainly a toy or two will show up as part of the overall package - after all, remember how you hated it when your grandmother bought you clothes instead of toys?
Once again this year we were fortunate to receive a large donation from a private foundation in the Boston area. The donors asked that their contribution be distributed among Massachusetts Masonic Angel Funds that were having difficulty funding their Christmas benevolences. We posted an email bulletin to this effect at 9:30 one morning and all of the money was "gone" by 10:20 a.m. - fifty minutes later!
System-wide, we find the average holiday benevolence is between $100 and $150 per child. Certainly there are exceptions on either side of these numbers. The fascinating thing is just how much "Christmas" our school professionals can buy for $100! We continue to be impressed by the thrift and creativity shown by those who shop with MAF money. Not only do they take aggressive advantage of clearance sales, they are not shy about telling store managers why they are shopping and requesting an additional discount.
If your Masonic Angel Fund finds itself overwhelmed with holiday requests, please feel free to contact the Foundation. We have a modest fund set aside for "emergencies" this holiday season.
USO, MAF and "The Circle of Community"
We often speak of the "circle of community" - where MAF, schools, donors, "the public" and the Lodge gather to support benevolence for children as well as to grow public awareness of Freemasonry's benevolent work. The story below is one of the best illustrations we have seen in a while. It's a little long, but please bear with us.
In mid-November a call came in to the Foundation from Richard Seychew of Marine Lodge in Falmouth. Through some contacts he has at the Massachusetts Military Reservation, Dick had learned of a truly sad situation. A young soldier had lost both of his arms in Iraq and was at a Washington area rehab facility. While the soldier's unit came from the Mass. Military Reservation (MMR), his two young children and their mother were living with family in Brockton. The family had some immediate financial needs that needed to be fulfilled faster than the military benefits system could respond. Dick asked if the Foundation could look into the matter and see who might help.
We immediately called Alice Harkins at the USO New England Council. She looked into the situation and came back with a list of needs. Both children (ages 2 and 6) needed winter clothing, the six year old girl was sleeping in a broken bed and the soldier wanted his family to visit him at the distant hospital.
The Foundation contacted Bruce Pratt of the Paul Revere Lodge Masonic Angel Fund in Brockton. Bruce provided the USO with some funds to purchase clothing. These funds were supplemented through the "benevolence builder" grant program and also from the St. Andrew Fund. Funds were on the way to the USO within a few hours of their request.
Alice Harkins next tackled the hospital visit issue. She determined that with the number of family (siblings, kids, mom...etc.) traveling to the Capital district the best means of travel was to drive a rented van. Alice contacted Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Starwood Hotels to see what could be done about travel and lodging arrangements. (Our intent was to supplement these costs through various MAF funding sources.) She told each company that the Masonic Angel Fund was helping her with this case and could they please discount as deeply as possible.
Alice got her discount. It was 100%. Enterprise donated the van rental and Starwood provided complimentary lodging.
Next, Alice approached an independent furniture store in downtown Brockton to see what could be done about a proper bed for the little girl. She explained to the owner of the store that she wanted to get the best possible price on a twin-size bed frame, mattress and box spring. Alice again reported that the Masonic Angel Fund was helping her with the purchases. The store owner said that he was familiar with the local Masonic Angel Fund and that he did not want to see them expend their meager funds on this purchase. Instead of taking MAF's money, the store owner donated an entire bedroom set for the six-year-old.
The total MAF cash expenditure on this case was about $300. Alice purchased about $600 worth of clothing for the kids with this money. Everything else was donated.
So we see here the "circle of community" at work. The "Masonic network" identified a need, we worked with our professional contact (the USO) and the local Masonic Angel Fund. When the need was verified we provided money to the USO for clothing and Ms. Harkins did all the leg work. While MAF was fully prepared to pay for many of the other necessary items it turned out that community businesses came forward and donated their products and services.
Postscript - The morning after Alice Harkins had taken care of most of this case she received a call from a US Senator's office informing her of this family's plight. She advised the Senator's staff that "the Masons told me about this two days ago and it's all taken care of."
BENEVOLENCE BUILDER GRANTS
A reminder - through the generosity of The Lodge of St. Andrew, Massachusetts Masonic Angel Funds are eligible to receive a 50% "benevolence builder grant" to replenish benevolences given between October 1, 2003 and January 30, 2004. If your Lodge provides a benevolence of $150, you are eligible for a replenishment grant of $75.
Please email email@example.com to apply for your benevolence builder grant.
FIFTH ANNUAL MAF CHRISTMAS AUCTION
The Fifth Annual Masonic Angel Fund charity auction will be held on Tuesday December 16th at the Sheraton Four Points in Eastham, MA. Proceeds will benefit the Universal Lodge Masonic Angel Fund. The evening will commence with a social hour at 5 p.m., dinner at 5:30 p.m. with the auction to follow. Dinner is $20 per person. Auction items include a weekend fantasy package at the Sheraton Four Points, two sport fishing expeditions, an air tour of the Cape
At this time of year, there are far too many benevolences afoot to list them all individually. Here we list a few "bullet items" to illustrate the work our constituent MAF's are doing:
Eyeglasses - We continue to be amazed by how many pairs of eyeglasses our MAF's are providing. Azure Lodge in Walpole, MA sent an annual report that indicates virtually all of their benevolent work last year involved eye care of one kind or another. Eye care benevolences rank first in number of benevolences system-wide.
Riding Outreach Program - Universal Lodge recently provided tuition to a horseback riding outreach program for a troubled nine-year-old girl. The program is designed to build self-esteem and confidence through various equestrian activities.
Basketball program - One of our MAF's recently provided $25 tuition so that a boy could remain in an after-school basketball league.
Deductible for back brace - St. John's Lodge (Newburyport, MA) recently provided the $200 deductible for a back brace needed by an 11 year old girl diagnosed with Scoliosis.
Christmas - Artisan Lodge (Winchendon, MA) is working to provide holiday gifts for approximately 25 children in their community.
Holiday packages - Nauset Light Lodge and The St. Andrew Fund recently provided $1,500 to fund Christmas gifts and clothing for some 46 girls at the Latham School, a residential facility in Brewster, MA.
Overlook VNA - Overlook Visiting Nurse Association recently worked with us on holiday assistance for two little girls (5 and 7) whose mother is out of work due to breast cancer and multiple infections.
Musical instruments - Universal Lodge recently received three donated musical instruments which will be refurbished and provided to three kids in the Orleans Elementary School band. These children were not able to participate in band because their families could not afford the music instrument rentals. ULMAF often pays for instrument rentals but found it more cost-effective to receive donated instruments and pay for refurbishment. If the child quits the band, the instrument reverts to the school for use by another child in need.
Head Start enrichment programs - Several Masonic Angel Funds on Cape Cod have worked with local Head Start programs to provide enrichment activities for children in the program. Recent benevolences included music lessons, art lessons, karate and gymnastics programs. While recreational in nature, each of these activities was requested because of an underlying cognitive, emotional or psychomotor issue with the child.
BECOME A MEMBER OF THE MASONIC ANGEL FOUNDATION, INC.
As of a recent by-law revision, any member in good standing of a Lodge that holds a Masonic Angel Fund License may apply for membership in the Masonic Angel Foundation, Inc. Annual dues are $25. Members are entitled to participate in meetings of the corporation and to attend meetings of the Board of Directors.
If you would like to become a member, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org - we will email you an application form in MS Word format. Generally, new applications for membership will be acted upon at the next meeting of the membership held after the application is received. New members must pass a unanimous ballot of the Foundation members present.
SHARE YOUR GOOD NEWS!
Please use our list server (email@example.com) to share your benevolences and news with others in Masonic Angel Fund family. You also may email your questions and stories to firstname.lastname@example.org
Better still, if you hold a fund raiser or do some special project in your community send us photographs and a "press release" for the web site.
Remember, the web site and these email broadcasts are everyone's forum to share and learn about how we all operate our Masonic Angel Funds.
Regards to all,
Managing Director/Board Secretary
Masonic Angel Foundation, Inc.