“What is Freemasonry?” asked the young woman standing opposite me at the hotel check-in desk. Her eyes had just settled on my officer’s badge and
now she was curious.
“A fraternity that donates millions of dollars each and
every day to its charities,” the Mason standing next to me
answered, before I could conjure up some long-winded, hard-to-understand explanation.
My worthy brother was wiser than he may have realized
at the time. The charities he cited profoundly improve the
lives of children and older adults alike, advancing nearly 300
years of Masonic culture in real, tangible ways. They are the
best evidence that California Masons make a difference in
Children challenged by poverty, or otherwise hindered
by their environments, are now climbing the ladder of literacy. Today, they have access to that which makes all men
free – knowledge. Through contributions to our Raising A
Reader partnership, California Masons are making it possible
for these children to escape a downward spiral of crime and
incarceration; to instead be enriched by an opportunity to read
with their families. Because of us, nearly 50,000 children are
being prepared to grasp and hold onto the precious freedom
that only knowledge can guarantee.
Thanks to California Masons, high school seniors whose sole
obstacle to a college education has been the absence of a helping hand are now realizing their dreams. Each year, we donate
almost a million dollars through the Investment in Success
scholarship program, extending a helping hand to the young
men and women who will soon lead the world.
Older Masons and their families who have fallen on hard
times, and those who grapple with ill health, have also discovered that their brothers will provide a high-quality life.
Thanks to their dedicated brothers, Masons living as shut-ins
receive assistance and are not forgotten. The Masonic Homes of
California form the backbone of a safety net, drawn tighter by a
mystic tie and the work of brothers who reach out to members
in need, offering supportive services, restoring dignity, health,
and happiness – and ensuring a better quality of life.
“How do Masons have so much money to give to those charities?” the young clerk asked. This time I had the answer.
“Our members have been giving money for nearly 200
years. It is a tradition others started and that we have prom-
ised to continue.”
Everywhere I travel, Masons ask how they can become
involved in our fraternity’s charities – how they can build
quality lives and become part of the philanthropy that makes
a profound difference for those in need. The answer is sim-
ple: By keeping our tradition of relief alive – by opening up
our hearts and giving what we can. Masons truly are linked
together by an indissoluble chain of sincere affection. I could
not be prouder of my brethren and the staff of dedicated men
and women who support them than I am today. You keep the
flames of freedom burning brightly.
Masonic Philanthropy: Building