Together we make a profound difference

October is Make a Difference Month

BEST PRACTICE: Sweethearts program

HOW-TO: Support sweethearts

Countdown to installation

Trestleboard and more

Question of the month

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October is Make a Difference Month

In partnership with the Masonic youth orders, the month of October is recognized by California lodges as Make a Difference Month.

This is a chance to support our youth, live our fraternal values, and make a profound difference in our communities.

Work with DeMolay, Rainbow Girls, and Job’s Daughters to plan and execute a project for public schools or another community cause. Urge your family, lodge, and allied Masonic organizations to join you. The more members and families who participate, the greater impact you’ll have.

For ideas and tips, read this HOW-TO.

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BEST PRACTICE: Sweethearts program

It has always been a Masonic lodge’s duty to care for the widows of its own brothers. In Orange County, Veritas Lodge No. 855 takes that responsibility even further – extending outreach to all Masonic widows in the area, regardless of lodge affiliation.

Steven Bass, chaplain and past master, explains:

Background

Veritas Lodge is just three years old and has just 33 members, so we fortunately do not have any widows among our own membership. But from the outset, we’ve had a widows program: Our very first lodge meeting was in November 2011. Three months later, we hosted a sweethearts dinner.

Outreach efforts

  • Radius of care: We used the Grand Lodge database to search for widows in our area, no matter their lodge affiliation, and created a phone list.
  • First contact: We divided the phone list among members, then called each widow to introduce ourselves and the lodge. We opted not to use a script; we simply spoke from the heart.
  • Ongoing outreach: Lodge volunteers make year-round outreach calls or visits. We do this on a case-by-case basis, usually three to five times per year.
  • In the neighborhood: If a widow needs a ride somewhere, help around the house, or just someone to check in, she now has another lodge to turn to, one that may be geographically closer.

Special functions

  • Social events: We plan regular events for widows, including meals out and special gatherings at the lodge. Our first widows function was a dinner at a local restaurant.
  • Open invitation: We invite widows to most of our lodge functions. Three attend regularly. Being such a small lodge, they are an important part of the family.
  • Scheduling savvy: If an event is especially geared toward sweethearts, we try to schedule it during daylight hours.

Lodge volunteers

  • Initiating outreach: During the period of our dispensation, our current master was junior warden. He spearheaded the widows program, and continues to offer guidance to the junior warden and stewards who now lead it.
  • Among the brothers: There is a dedicated core of about 15 brothers who help with widow outreach.
  • Family helping family: Lodge spouses and partners tend to be active in our lodge. They support the widows by attending events and helping with outreach if needed.
  • Neighbor lodges: Our lodge has close ties with nearby Irvine Valley Lodge No. 671 and Saddleback Laguna No. 672. By working together, we strengthen the support network for fraternal family in the area.

In closing

As Masons, we are responsible for every Masonic widow. It’s part of our promise to take care of each other: When we care for a brother’s loved ones, we honor our relationship with him.

For more information, contact: Steven Bass

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HOW-TO: Support sweethearts

A great widows program requires planning, tools, and ongoing attention. Here are 18 tips and resources.

Stay in touch

  • Organized outreach: Establish a widow outreach committee or improve your existing one: Invite a Masonic Assistance representative to explain best practices and available support services.
  • Stop by: Assign a lodge member to each sweetheart. Aim for a phone call or visit four times a year. Use this phone script and outreach checklist.
  • Handyman service: Create a taskforce of lodge members to tackle handyman projects. Publicize the service to widows and elder members.
  • Snail mail: Send birthday and holiday cards annually. Include the phone number of the lodge and for Masonic Assistance.
  • Youth orders: Involve local youth orders in planning events or making cards for sweethearts.
  • TIP: When entering a member’s death date in iMember, create a linked widow record for the spouse. This ensures that she will continue to receive Grand Lodge communications.

Create opportunities for involvement

  • Sweethearts night: At least once a year, host a meal in honor of lodge sweethearts. Assign members to call and invite each widow personally, and coordinate rides to and from the event.
  • Special committee: Encourage widows to form their own lodge committee – for example, a phone committee to spread the word about upcoming events.
  • Ladies group: Encourage lodge ladies and sweethearts to form a social club or work together on a service project.
  • Field trips: Plan group outings to local museums, theaters, and other destinations. To gauge preferences, use this sweetheart survey.
  • Lodge events: Any time the lodge is hosting an event open to families or the public, personally invite sweethearts and offer to coordinate rides.

Raise awareness about Masonic Assistance

Educate yourself

  • The basics: In preparation for outreach visits and phone calls, review Q&A: Masonic Senior Outreach and Q&A: Masonic Homes of California.
  • Step by step: Familiarize yourself with the Masonic Assistance intake process with this Calling Masonic Assistance fact sheet.
  • More details: For in-depth info on Masonic Assistance, use this guide.
  • Who’s who: Concerned that a widow needs help, but don’t know who to call? Use this directory.

Have we forgotten something? Email additional suggestions to communications@freemason.org with How-To: Support sweethearts in the subject line.

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Coutdown to installation

First things first

  • Select the date and reserve the lodge building
  • Select the installing team
  • Create a budget
  • Create an installation plan, including theme, meal, entertainment, and special presentations
  • TIP: Review last year’s installation plans to be sure you’ve covered everything.

Eight to 10 weeks before the event

  • Assign volunteers to design and print materials, including invitations, programs, and advertisements
  • Set deadlines for above materials
  • Obtain volunteers to serve as guest book and program attendants, flag bearers, photographer, and musician or sound technician

Four to six weeks before the event

  • Mail invitations, including: past masters and officers; your inspector; neighboring lodges; local Grand Lodge officers; youth orders; and community organizations
  • Remember to note: date, time, and location; dinner/reception details; whether reservations are required; and suggested attire

One to three weeks before the event

  • Publicize via press release to local media (use this template).
  • Print installation programs
  • TIP: In the installation program, include your lodge strategic plan and calendar for the upcoming year. Note activities for fraternal family and the community.

The week before

  • Rehearse with the installing team and officers, including musicians or sound technician
  • Consult with your inspector for approval or assistance
  • Finalize the program script, including introductions, presentations, and remarks
  • TIP: Write everything you wish to say after the formal ceremony, too, including the names of all those you want to introduce.

After the event

For more details on planning your lodge’s installation, consult the Lodge Manual, found in the Member Center on freemason.org. Log in and select Resources and Publications, then Manuals.

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Trestleboard and more

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.

A special quarterly installment features true tales of outreach. Share these stories with the lodge to raise awareness of outreach services and to reflect on the good you do by supporting Masonic Assistance. To make a contribution, visit freemason.org/contribute.

This month, read how Masonic Outreach Services provides a second family for a Masonic widow.

Download: Beyond Obligation: Masonic Matriach
Publish in your trestleboard, post at lodge, and include in a special email reminder.

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Question of the month

Last month we asked about your members’ top priority for lodge: social experience, ritual, Masonic education, or community service. Of those who responded:

51% - Social experience
23% - Ritual
16% - Community service
10% - Masonic education

Most respondents based their answer on which lodge events are best-attended.

Here's your next question.

 

 

 

 

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Please email questions to communications@freemason.org.

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