Together we make a profound difference

Banding Together for a Worthy Cause

Seven or eight years ago, Humboldt Lodge No. 79 donated lift chairs to Masonic Outreach Services (MOS). The lodge was happy to be able to help MOS clients, and MOS was grateful for their support. As time went on, the chairs aged with use and needed to be replaced. At a local Lodge Outreach Program training in 2016, MOS staff approached Bro. Halby Garrison – a past master of Humboldt Lodge and current Division I inspector – and asked whether the lodge might be able to donate chairs again.

Garrison brought this request back to his lodge, and brothers enthusiastically agreed to help. They were so excited by the idea that Garrison decided to raise the idea with the other five lodges in his Masonic division. From that point, Garrison explains, “the idea snowballed.” Word about the MOS request began spreading throughout the local Masonic community. Soon, members of the York Rite, Shriners, Eastern Star, and individuals were contacting Garrison to express their interest in making a donation. Everyone wanted to help.

At this point, Garrison reached out to MOS again to determine exactly how many chairs were needed. MOS sent a list of several fraternal family members stressing that anything the division could contribute would be greatly appreciated. Garrison began assessing what would be possible, knowing that the chairs were well over $1,000 each. He began courting estimates for bulk orders from local furniture stores. After speaking with several merchants, Vern’s Furniture in Eureka made him an offer he couldn’t refuse: They would extend the President’s Day sale price to the lodge, regardless of the order date or how many chairs the lodge needed. They also reduced this price by an additional $300 to reflect the charitable cause, bringing the price to around $760 a chair – far less than Garrison had imagined possible.

At that point, Garrison began accepting contributions in earnest. The gifts came from Masonic organizations district-wide:

  • The five lodges of Division 1 all gave: Crescent Lodge No. 45 in Crescent City, Humboldt Lodge No. 79 in Eureka, Six Rivers Lodge No. 106 in Arcata, Eel River Empire Lodge No. 147 in Fortuna, and Ferndale Lodge No. 193 in Ferndale all made lodge donations, and members at two lodges made significant individual gifts.
  • In the southern end of Division I, Naval Lodge No. 87; Carquinez Lodge, U.D.; and Benicia Lodge, U.D. all passed a hat at their stated meetings and contributed the donations.
  • Members of Rainbow Girls and Job’s Daughters made donations as well; the Rainbow Girls had a carwash fundraiser to help gather additional donations.
  • The Rohnerville Eastern Star, Northern Scottish Rite, and Redwood Shrine Club Jesters joined made contributions, along with the Widows Sons Masonic Riders Association (a motorcycle club for Master Masons).

As the donations continued to flood in, Garrison found himself amazed. The Northern California Masonic family had raised more than $23,000 – enough to purchase 29 new lift chairs. Most of the chairs – 24 in all – went to the Masonic Homes for distribution to residents and MOS clients. More than 15 brothers and their wives came to help unload and load the truck.

Five chairs were retained for local outreach clients, including one widow from Humboldt Lodge who currently resides at the Masonic Homes. One was delivered right from the showroom to a local widow who had fallen and needed assistance even as the order was processed. The store delivered the chair, set it up, and made sure that she was happy.

When asked how other districts might replicate a similar program, Garrison says, “Just listen at outreach meetings. One thing that’s always fascinated me most about our Masonic organization is that when we hear that there’s a need for something – whether in the community, for widows, for seniors, for kids – we always band together and come up with the money or solution to help. So, just listen to what the needs are and then go talk to your brothers. It’s amazing what you’ll accomplish together.”

MOS staff were extremely grateful for the profound thoughtfulness of the donation. “MOS is moved by the kindness and generosity of the Northern California Masons, family members, and friends who made this wonderful gift possible,” says Sabrina Montes, executive director of Masonic Outreach. “They have shown what relief looks like on a large scale, as they put lift chairs into the homes of well-deserving Masons and their widows across the state. We thank these Masons and Masonic family members from the bottom of our hearts!”

To learn more about Masonic Outreach Services and the Masonic Homes of California, visit masonichome.org

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