Call It Sharing
"Buddy, can you spare a dime?"
Think about this request when you receive the Masonic Foundation's annual report, "For the Cause of Good." According to Ron Campbell, Foundation President, "Charity is a cornerstone of Masonry."
But charity is a complicated business, sometimes too complex to explain. Fund-raising involves committees and campaigns. The proceeds are no longer real money but a "trust" which must be administered fairly. Experts must invest funds, track the returns, and dictate how many dollars can be made available.
All this takes time and the delayed application seems to rob the original appeal of its urgency.
Organized charity seems impersonal.
When you shell out spare change to a panhandler, at least you have direct contact and the money goes into a real hand to remedy an immediate need. But even then, there are doubts. ("Don't give him anything," I was warned as a child. "He'll just spend it on booze.") This, of course, is why we must unite in making funds available for deserving projects.
Read the Book
As dispensers of your funds and doing good in your name, the Masonic Foundation gives an annual report in July to its members, which is also received by the Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge. If you want to know what you've been doing, read the book, aptly entitled, "For the Cause of Good."
Like most annual reports, it is written in formal language, necessary because of protocol and legal requirements. Dollars and cents, the working tools of charity, are accounted for in statements and charts. People, past and present, have their dedication properly acknowledged in the official document. But beneath the formality is the reason for the Foundation's existence, human need.
What We Do
Consider a woman faced with losing her home and her independence. She's handicapped. All she needs is a special lift. We help her buy one and keep her out of a "special needs" residence.
Consider the young man we help keep his job and self-sufficiency. All he needs is a few modifications to his vehicle so he can keep on working.
Consider an elderly couple on the brink of insolvency. The rocky times are temporary, but the need is immediate. The hand of humanity makes life livable, partly because it says someone cares.
This year, the Masonic Foundation received 70 requests. Nine were approved. The opportunities still outstrip the resources.
Part of the Community
As well as repairing damage, the Foundation also does remedial work, like sponsoring a program in Ontario high schools to combat impaired driving. In all cases, The Masonic Foundation works in concert with communities and interest groups, which includes lodges and districts.
Of course the individual lodges and districts are members of their respective communities. And members want to be active in the needs of their hometowns. This past year, the Foundation and eight districts joined in projects totaling $76,500. Two support prostrate cancer research; others include support for kidney dialysis units and a neonatal unit, and assistance to cancer survivors, children with cancer, visually impaired children and families affected by autism. (Some of these have already been reported on this web page in these monthly editorial features.)
All funds flow through the project coordinator to the Foundation, with the full amount becoming available for presentation in one lump sum. This provides greater impact and a more solid feeling of accomplishment on the part of local Masons. The Foundation also supports the local campaigns by contributing up to ten percent of the total raised, to a maximum of $1,000 per project.
Not the Intent
It's not the intent of this article to pr�cis the annual report. But we would like to peak your interest in it.
Help-2-Hear and programs dealing with hearing handicaps, particularly among children, figure prominently in the report. Support from the Foundation approached $200,000 over the past year.
Bursaries continue to help out Ontario students facing hard times in their final term of university of community college. The schools recommend the recipients to the Foundation and the end result is graduates instead of dropouts, and general contributors to society. The score is impressive - 1,275 students from 35 Ontario institutions qualifying for $1.1 million over the past eight years.
School Peer Education Programs have funded by the Foundation for more than a decade and they are based upon kids talking to kids. The Council on Drug Abuse (CODA) has six peer-based programs aimed at grades nine and ten and adapt to each school and community. According to the annual report, "Masonic visitors to school and community programs over the past decade have expressed amazement about the impact the program titled Peers, Parties, Parents had on parents and students. It centres on a sequence of small group discussions facilitated by senior high school students for parents of younger teens. Each program is unique in its content because of its targeting to the distinct risk factors within the local school or community." Read more in the report, and note your support to Parent Action on Drugs (PAD).
Autism is lonely. It's lonely for the individual afflicted and it imposes loneliness on families caring for their afflicted children. And it's lonely because, except for those directly concerned, no one knows what it's all about. The Foundation has been supporting Kerry's Place Autism Services for 21 years, creating havens of refuge and education. Now the focus is expanding to make known to families the support and services available, including training opportunities. It's called The Enhanced Quality of Life Communication Project and the Foundation is involved.
The report has more, much more, information.
You'll be pleased to know that kids are given the first priority.
Donations can't be used for bricks and mortar. They have to go to people, for health care, for education, for research.
Charity can be warm, efficient, and effective. It's amazing what a Yellow Envelope can do!
Read the report.
Comments are Welcome
V.W. Bro. Ted Morris
76 Ballacaine Drive, Etobicoke, ON, M8Y 4B7
If you want to chat, call Ted at (416) 232 - 9545 or (705) 448 - 2574