Division iX Masons orGanize
by Laura Normand
When you find yourself suddenly vulnerable, particularly after
a lifetime of independence, your natural response may be the
most dangerous: You freeze.
You wait to seek help, hoping things will improve. You wait
even as you realize that your health or finances are in real trouble.
If you wait too long, the situation may slip beyond your control.
But in San Diego, there’s a safety net to catch you.
For the past 18 months, Division IX Masons have been building this safety net for brothers and widows. They are training
lodges to perform better outreach. They exchange emails and
phone calls to keep tabs on vulnerable members. They meet
quarterly with Masonic Outreach Services (MOS) staff.
“Outreach is a changing area,” says John Heisner, who helped
develop the program. “You have to know the services. You have
to know how to walk into an environment where someone looks
at you and says, ‘What do you mean, you’re here to help me?
How do I know I can trust you?’”
Demand and supply
Division IX is the first and only division to have the lodge outreach program so far, for this reason: They asked.
In 2011, Jim Kurupas had already been Division IX’s assistant
grand lecturer for three years. He heard about a widow who
needed support, and emailed MOS. It was his first contact with
Director Sabrina Montes.
“Once I began talking with Sabrina, I found out what the process was,” Kurupas recalls. “At first I was a little embarrassed
– geez, how did we not know this was going on? I talked to the
Masonic Homes Board and said, ‘We need
to teach our members how to ask the right
questions and get in touch with MOS.’”
As a Masonic Homes Board trustee,
Heisner (who is also an inspector) had come
to the same conclusion. He suggested orga-
nizing a formal outreach program in San
Diego. Kurupas had already demonstrated
that there was an interest for it, after all.
And it could serve as a trial run for the rest
of the state.
In the fall of 2011, Montes, Kurupas,
and Heisner tapped Division IX inspectors to spread the word: There would be
a volunteer meeting to discuss outreach.
At the first meeting, brothers of all degree
levels, wives, officers, and lodge ambassadors from throughout San Diego convened
with MOS staff.
Three months later, at the next meeting,
almost all of the volunteers returned. It
was among the first signs that the program
Beta testing begins
The volunteer group met quarterly for a
year to evaluate the outreach challenges
that lodges face; what tools lodges need;
and what infrastructure could best support
lodge outreach initiatives. Kurupas, Heisner,
and Montes decided to use the districts as
points of contact, then create a network between the districts and MOS.
As Heisner puts it, “We needed an educated core of folks. They could help the