Together we make a profound difference

Leading our lodges in 2013

BEST PRACTICE: Community involvement

HOW-TO: Raise public awareness

Survey of Masonic cemetery properties

Resources

Question of the month

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Leading our lodges in 2013

Congratulations on your recent or upcoming installation for 2013, and welcome to those who are stepping into officer roles for the first time. If you are new to the line, this is your first issue of The Leader, a monthly e-newsletter for California lodge officers.

The Leader delivers useful and timely information directly applicable to your role as a Masonic leader. Each issue shares lodge successes, resources, how-to information, and reminders to keep you informed and involved. You'll also find tips on implementing the fraternity’s strategic plan.

Please send us feedback, share your lodge's best practices, and take advantage of our question of the month to share your experiences with other California officers.

The Leader is your publication. Your participation will ensure it continues to provide a strong and relevant voice for lodge leaders throughout California.

Note to new readers: All issues of The Leader - including downloadable resources - are available online. Go to freemason.org > News & Events > The Leader.

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BEST PRACTICE: Community involvement

As the strategic plan points out, a strong philanthropy program includes raising public awareness of the fraternity as well as increasing community involvement. In Manhattan Beach, Beach Cities Lodge No. 753 demonstrates that one tactic often fuels the other.

Incoming master Joseph Tabrisky explains:

Background
In 2005, Beach Cities Lodge started a scholarship program for graduating high school seniors. That and our Child ID program first made the lodge visible within the community. Now the school districts, volunteer networks, and other nonprofits all know who we are.

At our last stated meeting, we addressed 20 motions. Half were related to community service.

Scholarship program

  • The scholarships: Since the program started, we’ve awarded almost $300,000 in four-year scholarships to about 300 students. Each year we fund 35 to 40 scholarships, with 11 to 15 new recipients per year. Students are selected from several school districts.
  • Awards dinner: We invite community members, as well as the scholarship recipients and their families, teachers, and school administrators to an awards dinner at the lodge. We also invite local dignitaries; last year the mayor attended.
  • Face-time: We met with a local school superintendent to introduce our lodge and let him know about the scholarships we were giving to students in his district. He passed this information along, and the district began publishing our list of scholarship recipients.

Public school programs

  • Identify needs: We wanted to get involved in a meaningful way with elementary schools. Our surrounding school district is fairly wealthy, so we decided to reach out to neighboring districts that were struggling.
  • Network through members: One of our members is an employee of L.A. Unified School District. We asked him to be our liaison with the local school board.
  • Build on existing programs: The district jumped at our offer to help. They had already implemented a successful literacy program at two elementary schools, and asked if we could help bring the program to a third school. We contributed $5,000 in seed money; our Public Schools Committee also began organizing volunteer tutors.
  • After-school music: A local middle school heard about our relationship with the elementary schools, and approached us about their after-school music program. We’re donating funds to provide instruments for children who can’t afford them.
  • Look for chances to help: When we heard that an elementary school needed printers, we provided the funds. When we learned that a high school had never had a college counseling or work center, we mustered the supplies and resources to create one.

Other community programs

  • Child ID: We partner with three major community events a year. Over the years, our Child ID program has become a key component of the events.
  • Little League: Some 600 youth participate in our local Little League, which rents baseball fields from nearby public schools. To make ends meet, these schools recently increased the rent - and nearly knocked out the Little League. We stepped in and donated money. The funds all went to our local public schools, and the Little League is able to continue.
  • Symphony sponsor: For years we’ve supported the local symphony orchestra, which puts on free community concerts.
  • Volunteer work: Twice a year we serve meals at Midnight Mission, a homeless shelter in Los Angeles.
  • Women’s shelter: We reached out to a local women’s shelter, and made a donation to help them purchase the basic necessities they desperately need.
  • Open house: A number of brothers asked to do an open house. We hosted our very first one last month, and paired it with a blood drive. We’re planning two more open houses next year - one featuring a blood drive and the other a book drive.

Advice for getting involved

  • Contact the media: We have a Publicity Committee that writes and submits articles to the local news. We put out notices of upcoming events, especially the scholarship awards dinner. In addition to publicizing our events, we’re communicating that the lodge is here to help.
  • Ask for ideas: Tap into the knowledge and relationships that your members already have. Encourage them to suggest projects, and reach out to their community contacts.
  • Use your whole network: Include concordant bodies and Masonic youth orders in your events. Each of these groups reaches a different segment of your community.

We all know there are public misconceptions about Masonry. But rather than only talking about who we really are, we show it through our actions.

And there’s an even more important consequence to raising awareness: It encourages people in the community to approach the lodge for support. It opens the door for us to make an even more profound difference.

For more information, contact Joe Tabrisky.

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HOW-TO: Raise public awareness

Under the "philanthropy" priority of the strategic plan, lodges are challenged to raise community awareness of the fraternity.

Here are 13 tips, with links to even more.

Open communication channels

Build relationships

  • Goodwill ambassadors: Your members are already involved in the community. Encourage them to talk about Masonry among their social circles.
  • Local groups: Join your community’s chamber of commerce. Drop by the meeting of another organization - Rotary, the Elks, the school district, the historical society, etc. Invite leaders of other groups to speak at lodge events.
  • School support: Public schools need help now more than ever. Reach out to the closest school, or even better, approach the school board: They can point you to the classrooms and programs with the greatest need.

Host events

  • On The Level: Download the program guide, presentation, and script on freemason.org. Select the Member Center pull-down menu, then Membership Development.
  • Public recognition: Sponsor annual awards for outstanding students, teachers, or civil servants.
  • Community service: Adopt a service project such as a park clean-up or coat drive, or throw a fundraiser for a community cause.
  • Local culture: Sponsor or host a community program, such as a theater festival, classes for senior citizens, or a student science fair.

Most of all: Get involved

  • Partnership possibilities: Check out this list of 31 ideas for community service.
Have we forgotten something? Email suggestions to communications@freemason.org with How-To: Raise public awareness in the subject line.

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Survey of Masonic cemetery properties

Did you know?

  • Currently, there is no central record system to track Masonic cemetery properties.
  • Some lodges aren’t even aware that they own and are responsible for a cemetery property.
  • A neglected Masonic cemetery or plot is a reflection on the fraternity at large, and can lead to maintenance and legal issues.

Cemetery Task Force
The Cemetery Task Force was established by Grand Master John Lowe to help ensure that local lodges are aware of their Masonic cemeteries and cemetery properties, including the ownership of individual plots. The goal is to put a system in place so lodges may properly maintain and pass these properties onto future generations of lodge leaders.

How you can help
Lodge masters and secretaries will receive a letter from the Cemetery Task Force in early January, containing essential questions on the status of lodge cemetery properties.

You will be asked to gather available information, and respond in one of several convenient ways - by electronic survey, email, mail, or phone.

Thank you for your participation in this important project. Be sure to watch for more information.

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Resources

By partnering with Masonic Assistance, you can make sure your fraternal family knows where to turn when they need support. This section is designed to help.

Existing readers of The Leader have already received several resources related to Masonic Senior Outreach (MSO), from basic informational flyers to checklists for lodge outreach. This month, an essential guide for lodge leaders - formatted as a PowerPoint presentation - combines and consolidates these materials, and provides step-by-step guidance for connecting elder members with MSO.

This month: MSO guide

View, share, and present this guide to fellow officers as a PowerPoint presentation, or print and save it as a reference.

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Question of the month

Last month we asked if your lodge has a strategic plan. Of the 106 who responded:

48% - Yes
37% - No
15% - Don't know

Among those lodges with a strategic plan, 47 percent created their plan within the past two years.

Here’s your next question.

 

 

 

 

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Please email questions to communications@freemason.org.

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