Serving All of Washington
Your Monthly News & Updates for
Welcome back! We've taken a brief newsletter break, but with the Summer wrapping up it's time to get back on track and share with you some of the exciting things that have been happening and what's coming up. Please enjoy the WA Masonic Charities newsletter, and if you're a Lodge or Grand Lodge leader, please forward it to your Masonic contacts.
"If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there."
This is one of my favorite quotes. Some may recognize this wisdom comes from Freemason, Bro. Charles Dodgson, also known by the pen name, Lewis Carroll.
In 2015-16 Washington Masonic Charities is working to create a long term vision and strategic plan for the work of Masonic charity in the Washington jurisdiction, because one thing is sure - the future is either designed by us or for us.
We are spending time deciding where we want to go so we can choose the right roads to travel. This is to assure that our work to support kids learning and safety, to support seniors, and to preserve our heritage is valuable not only for the Fraternity, but also for the community in general.
Imagine looking back twenty or even fifty years - what would we want to say about how WA Masonic Charities changed the lives of people in our jurisdiction. I would love to hear your thoughts. If you'd like to share your thoughts, please "friend" us on FaceBook and post your ideas through our
Be part of the conversation!
Our Volunteer Spotlight this month is on
Bill and Ruth Vidunas.
This dynamic duo has been volunteering in the
Washington Masonic Library & Museum
for the past several months. They've been helping to photograph and to document the collection. When you talk to them you quickly learn that each is easily getting as much out of the experience as they are giving back.
Bill's path as a Freemason began in 1976, so that he could be more involved with his daughters, who were Rainbow Girls. Within five years he had gone through the chairs and was Master of the Thornton F. McElroy Lodge #302 in Federal Way. About this same time, Ruth found herself getting involved in Amaranth, and was Matron in 1981. The list of positions held by each in the different Masonic organizations is impressive. Needless to say, their family has been involved in all things Masonry for quite some time.
The couple became involved with the Library & Museum in the Spring of 2015. Each play an important role in the documentation and upkeep of the collection. Bill's work involves photographing museum objects, while Ruth is assisting with using the Library & Museum computer systems to categorize and sort information, and to upload images and documents to the online archives. All of this is helping to make the collection accessible, even to people who can't visit the Library & Museum.
Ruth enjoys most the opportunity to learn about the objects she's working with and she really likes seeing when other people also get to learn and appreciate the collection because of her work. She'd like most that people know that this resource is available.
When I asked Bill "What keeps you coming back?" he said, "It is invigorating and challenging. I look forward to coming down, because I'm able to learn more about computers, while tapping into my skills and interests. I really enjoy that I get to work with my wife as a team. It comes down to one word - fulfillment."
If you are interested in getting involved with the Library & Museum or any of our other WA Masonic Charities programs, please give Ken Gibson a call at (844) 288-3531 toll free or click to send him an
015-16 Scholarship Program Underway.
With the beginning of the school year it is time for lodges - and young people - to begin thinking about scholarships. Worshipful Masters, Senior Wardens, and Secretaries should be looking out for program letters and packets to make sure that their lodge is reaching out and informing local schools about the opportunity. Scholarship Committee Chairman Darrick Hayman has been working hard with the committee members and staff to get the program off the ground for the 2015-2016 year. As a reminder, Scholarships came directly under WA Masonic Charities at the 2015 Annual Communication, so things may look a little different over the course of the year. If you have questions, please contact Darrick at
. You can visit our
Scholarships Program web page by clicking here.
If your lodge is interested in partnering with WA Masonic Charities on your lodge scholarship program via Fiscal Sponsorship, please contact Ken Gibson at (844) 288-3531 or
click here to send an email
If you've wondered about the value of children's safety programs here is something to think about. I received an email this morning celebrating the location of a missing person - 34 years later! Here is the story from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
"Steve was born Marx Barnes. But when he was just a few months old, Steve and his mother went missing. Steve ended up in an orphanage, but under a different name and his true identity was never known.
He was adopted and raised by two loving parents and spent the next 34 years unaware that he was ever reported as a missing child.
But here's the most amazing part
Our forensic artists used a photo of Steve at 3-months-old and photos of each of his parents at 20 years old to create an age-progressed image of what Steve would look like as an adult.
Their rendering was so accurate that Steve says when he saw it, "It took my breath away."
Time and again, National Center for Missing & Exploited Children's age-progressed images have increased publicity relating to missing child cases, including long-term missing cases like Steve's.
Steve is now reconnecting with his birth father and sister and told us that he feels, "really blessed that you've done the work you've done." The
National Center for Mission and Exploited Children is partners with the MASONICHIP and
WA Safety ID Program
Tools You Can Use and Pass Along
The National Center for Exploited and Missing Children provides free resources to help you take action. These can be valuable tools and information for Children's ID Events.
To set up an event, please contact our Children's Programs Chariman, Dennis Withers, for more information. He can be reached by email at
or (425) 359-8131.
Model Student Assistance & Safe Schools Program
Washington Masonic Charities, offers (at no cost), a response to intervention and anti-bullying training program for interested public schools and school districts. We work to bring in trainers from Newman-Stecher, who work under the auspices of the National Masonic Foundation for Children, to provide the program and training. It is in many states nation-wide, and we piloted it in North Thurston School District last year with great feedback from the participants.
The program is provided at no cost to the schools. All that the schools/districts need to do is to encourage educators and staff to show up. We arrange for the location, meals, and have worked with Pierce College to obtain clock hours or CEUs if the participant needs it. If during the school year we can discuss mitigating the cost of substitutes for classroom teachers who are participating. Our goal is to make it easy to say yes!
Our program will serve a minimum of 20 educators, but can provide training for up to 80 people - the training is two days for the Model Student Assistance Program, or three days with Safe Schools added on. We encourage the combined three day program.
There is no catch and nothing expected in return. Please call Ken Gibson for more information at (844) 288-3531 toll free. Below are links to additional information as well.
Masonic Outreach Services
Putting the "Out" in Outreach
Beginning in September 2015 Washington Masonic Charities Masonic Outreach Services is redirecting its work to provide education outreach in communities throughout the state of Washington. Our staff will be working directly with lodge masters, secretaries and district deputies to make sure that they have a point of contact when our senior Brethren and widows find themselves in need.
Community Helping Community
When it comes to helping seniors in need, we are working hard to create partnerships where the sum is greater than its parts. One such partnership is with affiliates of the
On Saturday, October 24th a small group of Masons will converge in South Puget Sound to build a ramp for a low-income senior or disabled home owner. This ramp will be one of five that will be built in partnership with a local non-profit organization,
Rebuilding Together South Sound.
Washington Masonic Charities is proud to be the lead sponsor of this event because we support aging in place and helping those in need. Building ramps that help seniors maintain their independence and to live in them more safely improves the quality of their life. Here are reported benefits ramps provide seniors:
- More trips to get medical care such as doctor's visits and treatments.
- Increased mobility and more choice of daily activities.
- Accessing social service programs.
- Supporting their desire to age in place and stay in their own communities rather than having to make a decision of moving into costly assisted living facilities.
- Ramps are crucial in the case of emergencies so elderly and emergency first responders are able to enter and exit the home quickly and safely.
To learn more about Rebuilding Together South Sound,
. Their mission is to bring volunteers and communities together to improve the homes and lives of low-income homeowners.
The October 24th Rampathon will include an on-site supervisor, food, drinks, and a T-shirt.
If you would like to help build a ramp, call Byron Cregeur at 253-442-2505 or
send him an email.
Client Success Story!
Case Manager, Christine Fox received a call from Ruth, a Masonic widow whose husband passed away suddenly. Ruth asked if Christine could visit her at her home, stating, "I need a lot of help." When Christine arrived at Ruth's home she asked a series of questions as an informal assessment to gain information about her situation and how Masonic Outreach Service could assist with referrals and a plan of action. During this first visit Christine was able to call the bank and request her car payments to be suppressed for 3 months while changes to her income were completed. Ruth shared that she sold a vehicle to assist with the costs of her husband's funeral, Christine then learned she was still paying insurance more auto and health insurance than necessary, so she worked with insurance companies to adjust policies to save on expenses. Christine was able to work with the utility companies to reduce expenses by helping Ruth to sign up for senior low income plans. Work was also done to explore other benefit options related to her late husbands retirement. Ruth's monthly costs were significantly reduced so that she could continue to live independently on her Social Security income. In a tough situation with the loss of her husband, Masonic Outreach Services has been able to help Ruth reduce her stress, improve her financial circumstance, and help to keep her independent in her home so that she can move forward in her life. This is a great outcome!
(Note: we've changed Ruth's name to protect her privacy, but have permission from her to share her story and picture.)
Library & Museum
Masonic Study Group
Starting on August 26th a Masonic Study group formed and began meeting weekly on Wednesdays at 9AM in the Library & Museum. All Freemasons are welcome. This is fantastic opportunity to visit and explore the Washington State Masonic Library & Museum. We are open Mon-Wed from 9AM - Noon and the 2nd and 3rd Saturdays from 9AM - 2 PM. We're also open by appointment.
Are you interested in the history or Freemasonry or Masonic education? The WA State Masonic Library & Museum is looking for volunteers who can assist with the books, archive, and object collections. We are looking for photographers and people who are interested and willing to use their computer skills to help catalog and document the collection. We are also looking for individuals who are willing to work a four hour shift once a week to help us open and host the Library & Museum additional hours during the week. If you are interested, please contact Library & Museum Committee Chairman, Todd Johnstone at (253) 625-7895 for more information.
Washington Masonic Charities is available to partner with your lodge to serve as a fiscal sponsor for work that fits within our mission and charitable purpose.Youth education programs, Bikes for Books, WA Safety ID Program (formerly CHIPS).
A fiscal sponsorship agreement is a great way for lodges and Masonic organizations to focus on the charitable work without the worry of accounting systems, auditing, and need to manage charitable donations according to IRS rules and regulations. WA Masonic Charities takes on the fiduciary and technical responsibility, while the work of the lodge charitable program covered by the agreement is conducted day to day by members of the lodge. We work individually with lodges to assure that programs operate and meet charitable purposes under the IRS, that information is shared, and that proper accounting and recognition of funds occurs.
To learn more, lodge officers interested in fiscal sponsorship may contact Ken Gibson at (844) 288-3531 or by sending email