May 27, 2004 - Celebrating the first anniversary of the Boston First Masonic Angel Fund
Boston First Fund - "An Evening of Sharing for a Year of Caring"
Members of the First Masonic District of Massachusetts gathered on the evening Thursday May 27th to celebrate the first anniversary of their district's Masonic Angel Fund. The "Boston First Fund" serves children in the immediate Boston area. As a "partnership fund", the BFF is considered a non-traditional Masonic Angel Fund. Specifically, BFF benevolences are referred through social service agencies rather than through the Boston Public Schools.
In the past year, the Boston First Fund has served children in need who were referred through the following agencies:
ABCD Head Start Program
New England Center for Change (formerly Tri-County Youth Programs)
Big Sisters of Greater Boston
Roxbury office, Department of Youth Services
USO New England Council
The first anniversary reception was held in the Joseph Warren Room at the Grand Lodge Masonic Building. In addition to the Masons and patrons present, we were honored to have guests from some of the BFF's partner agencies. These guests included: Carolyn Boehne (ABCD Head Start), Anthony Pitts (Roxbury DYS) and Alice Harkins (USO New England).
The evening was kicked off with a few words from R.W. David Howard, DDGM of the First Masonic District. Masonic Angel Fund co-founder R.W. Robert Fellows introduced each of the honored guests. Other speakers included MAF co-founder Bro. John Sherman and Masonic Angel Foundation CFO Wor. Lorrimer Armstrong, Jr.
Presentations were made by each of the partner agencies represented. A certificate was presented by Carolyn Boehne on behalf of the Head Start children of Boston. Anthony Pitts presented a plaque in appreciation of the BFF's work with children served by the Department of Youth Services in Roxbury.
The USO's "Operation Noble Eagle" award was presented to the Boston First Fund by Executive Director Alice Harkins. Operation Noble Eagle is a handsome casting of an American eagle with wings spread. The eagle is to be held by the BFF for one year. It is to be presented annually by the USO to the Masonic group that most distinguishes itself by assisting soldiers and families served by USO New England. Ms. Harkins also presented the Masonic Angel Foundation's "triumvirate" with the USO's Patriot Award. She presented Patriot Award clocks and plaques to MAF co-founders John Sherman and Robert Fellows as well as to Masonic Angel Foundation CFO Lorrimer Armstrong, Jr.
It was especially impressive to hear each partner agency describe how they leveraged every dollar they received from the Boston First Fund. Indeed, the USO finds itself able to purchase $99 snowsuits for under $5 each. The Head Start program is able to pool its resources to delivery summer day camp at $120 for the entire summer! Mr. Pitts of the DYS described the bargains he obtained while shopping for the children at Christmas and other times of the year. It quite fair to say that one dollar of Boston First Fund money is easily leveraged into four or five dollars of "value delivered" almost every time we issue a benevolence check. Since 100% of every dollar donated to the Boston First Masonic Angel Fund is used for the benefit of children in need, one begins to see the impact of the $20,500 donated to BFF in the past twelve months.
The evening concluded with Wor. David Cerasoli of Mount Lebanon Lodge A.F. & A.M. presenting a $5,000 donation to the BFF on behalf of Mount Lebanon Lodge along with his own generous personal contribution. He encouraged all present to ask their Lodges to renew or increase their support of the Boston First Fund. Bro. Cerasoli also encouraged the Masons present to look into their own hearts and make a personal contribution to the BFF, as well.
The evening served as a true re-affirmation of all that we hold dear as Masons. The tenets of our profession are exemplified by the work of the Boston First Fund. Rather than all of us standing around patting each other on the back, as Masons are prone to do, this reception consisted of "civilians" telling us what the work of the Masonic Angel Fund means to them and the children they serve. The program also served to dispel some of the myths surrounding Masonry, most especially for one guest who said she had walked past 186 Tremont Street each day for twenty-two years and had no idea that non-Masons were allowed inside.
We are also pleased to report that one of the gentlemen who attended has requested an Application for the Degrees based upon what he saw and heard at the BFF function.
The Boston First Fund enjoyed a truly splendid first year. We now observe the BFF spreading its wings and growing to be a truly extraordinary force in Boston children's charities.
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Carolyn Boehne of ABCD Head Start Program presents a certificate to DDGM David Howard on behalf of the Head Start children of Boston as MAF co-founder Robert Fellows looks on.
Anthony Pitts of the Roxbury Department of Youth Services presents DDGM David Howard with a plaque in appreciation of the assistance the Boston First Fund has provided to DYS's client children.
MAF co-founder John Sherman shares one of his many anecdotes about the children we serve.
USO New England's Alice Harkins presents Operation Noble Eagle to the Boston First Fund. The Noble Eagle is presented annually by USO/NE to the Masonic group that best served our military personnel and their families.
USO Executive Director Alice Harkins presents the USO Patriot Award to (13, MAF Co-Founder Robert Fellows) (14, MAF Co-Founder John Sherman) (15, MAF Chief Financial Officer Lorrimer Armstrong, Jr.). The Patriot Award is presented to civilians who have distinguished themselves in service to our military personnel and their families.
Wor. David Cerasoli of Mount Lebanon Lodge presents his Lodge's BFF donation of $5,000 to Masonic Angel Foundation managing director Robert W. Fellows. Bro. Cerasoli also made a generous personal contribution to the Boston First Fund.