Masonic Foundation Of Ontario

"There are lots of young men and women we would love to have as students, the Nobel Prize winners, the Lasker Award winners of the future. It would be a sin if society is deprived of the fruits of their work down the road because those of us, today, who could have helped, didn't."
-- Michael Bloomberg

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The Musings Of A Past President Part II - Establishing A Millennium Project

One of the greatest resources we all possess is our youth. Instructing and guiding them As the decade of the 1990s was drawing to a close, the world prepared to enter a new millennium a time for celebration and a time for concern, especially with the rapid computerization of every aspect of life and the fear of a computer-generated shutdown because of something called The Y2K Bug. Fortunately, that never occurred; however, there was lots of celebration. It was this feature of the new millennium that the Directors of the Masonic Foundation wanted to capture through a major fund-raising campaign.

The Directors decided to aim high a target of $2 million was to be raised between July 1999 and July 2001. Planning for this venture, of course, began several years prior to the kick-off of the actual campaign. There were innumerable causes worthy of support. For a millennium project, however, the Foundation sought a niche that needed to be addressed and that was not being championed by other altruistic organizations. The key ingredient was to identify a cause worthy enough for the Masons of Ontario to get behind and support.

First, I should provide a bit of background. To mark the one hundred and twenty-fifth anniversary of Grand Lodge in 1980, the Foundation launched a major fund-raising campaign, adopting the theme Project H.E.L.P., (Hearing for Every Living Person) its goal was to assist research into hearing problems. The campaign ran from July 1978 to July 1979, with a target of $350,000 at the conclusion of the campaign, $560,000 had been raised. The capital was invested, with annual interest used to support various research projects in fields related to hearing loss. This Foundation-supported research has been successful in a number of areas, including the following two that are very important to the Foundations primary thrust of assisting the youth of Ontario: the ability to measure otoacoustic emissions the reverberation of a sound entering the ear and reflecting off the hair in the cochlea to identify potential hearing problems in babies as young as several days old; and successful cochlear implants in children as young as one year old. It was these two developments that shaped the millennium project.

The natural progression of two causes the Foundation had supported for the previous twenty years, VOICE and research into addressing hearing problems, including successful cochlear implanting in children, made possible by funds raised through Project H.E.L.P. The interrelationship between these causes became obvious to the Foundation, as more and more VOICE children received cochlear implants to help them overcome their deafness, and became the genesis of the Foundations Millennium project.

At a Foundation Executive meeting in February 1998, the groundwork was laid for the millennium project, to be called HELP-2-HEAR, referring to the initial Project H.E.L.P. some two decades before, with 2 representing the second hearing research project, the end of the second millennium and the target of $2 million, and HEAR reflecting Masonry's long-time interest in helping people to overcome hearing impairment. This combination of factors resulted in making the resolution of hearing difficulties in infants the focus of the Foundations millennium campaign and the administrative network for the campaign was established.

More musings to come.

R.W. Bro. Ronald K. Campbell