Vol. LXXII No. 12 — December 1994
Jess W. Gern, 33°
S.G.I.G. in Colorado and Grand Almoner of
The Supreme Council, 33°, Southern Jurisdiction
1370 Grant Street,
Denver, Colorado 80203-2397
J. Philip Berquist, 33°
Deputy for Massachusetts,
Northern Masonic Jurisdiction
21 Studio Road,
Auburndale, Massachusetts 02166-2808
Philanthropy is an essential part of Freemasonry. In helping others, each Mason puts our Craft's key principles of brotherhood and service into action. Every Blue Lodge has an Almoner's fund to help the needy, and every Appendant Body of Freemasonry provides charitable outreach, often focusing it on a specific need.
- The Knights Templar serve children with strabismus, cross-eyes.
- Job's Daughters supplies aids for the hard of hearing.
- Tall Cedars of Lebanon supports muscular dystrophy research and treatment.
- The Grottoes of North America offers dental services to the handicapped.
- The Masonic Service Association organizes disaster relief and hospital visitation programs.
- The Prince Hall Masonic Youth Fund provides camps for urban youths.
- The Shrine finances 22 specialized hospitals for burns victims and crippled children.
These are only a few of the hundreds of Masonic philanthropies serving the young, elderly, handicapped, and needy throughout America. As recently as September 1994, a new era began in Masonic service to the nation when Ill. Robert O. Ralston, 33°, Sovereign Grand Commander of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite, U.S.A., announced the addition of a fourth charity to that Jurisdiction's existing philanthropic efforts. Now, in addition to providing for schizophrenia research, youth scholarships, and the Masonic Museum of Our National Heritage at Lexington, Massachusetts, the Brethren of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction will dedicate themselves to creating Childhood Learning Centers in cities throughout the 15 states of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the United States.
This major step forward for Masonic philanthropy follows the path blazed by the Southern Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry as early as the 1950s. It all began with the need of one child in Denver, Colorado. The young widow of a Brother had two small children. The youngest had a problem with his speech. At school, neither his teachers nor his peers could understand him. Local community services were not available at that time. Language and learning disorders in children were just beginning to be understood.
The widow appealed to the Brethren of Denver's Scottish Rite Bodies. Judge Haslett P. Burke, 33°, then Sovereign Grand Inspector General in Colorado and Lieutenant Grand Commander of The Supreme Council, 33°, Southern Jurisdiction, called the Brethren of Denver's Consistories together. Unanimously, it was decided to raise Scottish Rite dues by $2.00 annually and to dedicate that money to the local Children's Hospital in support of the study and treatment of aphasia.
Today we know communications disorders, like aphasia where the child cannot connect verbal and written words with actions or objects, affect one out of every ten children in America. Among other forms of childhood language and learning disorders are dyslexia, stuttering, delayed learning, attention deficit, hearing loss, and many more. Otten the cause is unknown. Always it is treatable.
Affected children are usually of normal or even superior intelligence. Yet they cannot communicate at the level of their peer group. Remedies may be, on occasion, hearing devices or surgical procedures. More often, however, remediation, even total elimination of the problem, can be managed by the child receiving therapy individually or in small groups from a certified Speech Language Pathologist.
In sessions that appear more like fun than lessons, a child can learn to speak and understand. The earlier the intervention, the more effective the treatment. Left untreated, a child with learning and communication problems becomes withdrawn and unhappy. He or she slips behind academically. Disturbed by the inability to communicate adequately, the child becomes frustrated and, often, disruptive. Left untreated, these conditions can permanently damage a child's development and severely diminish chances for a fulfilling life as a productive adult.
Often local school systems and social services are strapped for funds and cannot provide the treatment necessary. This fact was evident in the first case accepted for Masonic assistance in Colorado in the 1950s, and it remains so today. To meet this need, the Brethren of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Southern Jurisdiction, established and gradually expanded a Childhood Language Disorders Program which now serves thousands of children in clinics, centers, and programs throughout 35 states and the District of Columbia.
In our nation's capital, for instance, there is a state-of-the-art center adjacent to the Scottish Rite Temple. Dedicated by Mrs. George Bush on June 23, 1989, the $3 million dollar facility is only one of the 110 clinics, centers, or programs throughout the Southern Jurisdiction as of late 1994. And, responsive to local needs and support, the program continues to grow and evolve. Aside trom direct therapy for children and training for their parents, there are such diverse programs as volunteer-directed videotapes to remedy dyslexia, Computer Assisted Language Therapy (CALT) where the child uses interactive media for self-teaching, and mobile diagnostic clinics which visit schools for on-site evaluations and referrals.
The Southern Jurisdiction's flagship philanthropy inspired the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite to follow suit. Already, two Children's Learning Centers are in place in Newtonville and Lowell, Massachusetts. In addition, a summer program of a similar nature is sponsored by the Brethren of the Scottish Rite Valley of Marquette, Michigan, at Northern Michigan University. These are the first three links in what is intended to become a chain of Scottish Rite Children's Learning Centers throughout the Northem Jurisdiction. As complements to the already existing network of clinics, centers, or programs in the Southern Jurisdiction, this new Scottish Rite philanthropic endeavor will bring needed services to children who might overwise go untreated wherever they may be throughout America, including Alaska and Hawaii.
Brother J. Philip Berquist, 33°, is the founder of the first two centers in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction. He will lead the new program with the assistance of 111. Drew W. Washabau, 33°, 111. James W. Salmons, 33°; and the overall guidance of Sovereign Grand Commander Ralston. Similarly, in the Southern Jurisdiction, Sovereign Grand Commander Kleinknecht will continue to provide leadership for that Jurisdiction's rapidly expanding program, while Brothers Thomas M. Boles, 33°, Director of Development, and J. Howard Rodman, Jr., 32°, Assistant Director of Development, provide general guidance for fundraising.
The programs of both Jurisdictions are deeply rooted in the needs of local communities and the local Valley' s response to those needs. Thus, while provided with jurisdictional seed money for new centers, continuing financial assistance for existing tacilities or programs and an effective public relations effort by the Supreme Councils of both Jurisdictions, all local clinics, centers, or programs are strongly dependent on grassroots support by the Brethren.
For more information, call or write W. Gene Sizemore, 33°, G.C., at The Supreme Council, 33°, S.J., 1733 Sixteenth St., NW, Washington, DC 20009-3199 Tel. 1-2()2-232-3579 Fax 1-202-387-1843; or J. Philip Berquist, 33°, N.M.J., at the Masonic Temple, 458 Newtonville Avenue, Newtonville, MA 02160- 1925 Tel. 1-617-965-3960 Fax 1-617-965-6415.