The Rough Ashlar

Thoughts from a Traveling Man

The Rough Ashlar - Thoughts from a Traveling Man

True Friendship is Old Crow and Chocolate Cake

wpid-IMAG0719.jpgI went to visit my friend and mentor Bruce a few weeks ago for his birthday. He was turning 90 and does not get out anymore, so I figured I would come by and bring him his two favorite things – Old Crow bourbon and chocolate cake. Maybe they are not quite his favorites, but they are certainly things he enjoys, so I know he had a good birthday.

Bruce is one of the greats in our area and is known widely throughout the state as a master ritualist, as well as being someone who is good and kind, if sometimes firm with his direction. It was with great humility on my part that I agreed to take over for him when he stepped down last year as our district ritual instructor, and I am sure it took a great amount of trust on his part to turn it over to someone so young among the Craft. I feel honored to have this role and take it seriously, even if I do not have the chance to attend every event or visit all the lodge schools.
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Forget not the Duties: Starting Your Lodge’s Food Drives

Food DriveMy lodge has been working with Arlington Food Assistance Center to collect food to support their important work of providing food assistance to the families in our community. AFAC sends out a regular email newsletter and I am always shocked by the number of families they serve. A recent newsletter showed that their services have increased 72% over the past two years. It’s a staggering growth.

Part of this is due to the hard work of their director and staff, in increasing the outreach they do in the community. Another angle on it is the very real truth that need for this type of service has increased dramatically over the last couple years. With the current economic situation, more people are in need and the people who were in need before are still there. In almost all sectors there is very little upward mobility. The trend has been down – layoffs, pay cuts, work reduction, etc.

What? You want to start collecting food for your local food bank? Good on you. Here’s what you do. First, get your Worshipful Master’s buy-in. As always, he rules and governs the lodge, so you really need to contact him and at least let him know what you are doing. Also, contact a local food bank to let them know what you are doing. They will be tickled pink that you are helping.

Second, put a bin in a visible location in the lodge. Start it off with some donations. It’s like a tip jar. Nobody puts a tip in an empty tip jar. Plus, your willingness to donate is a sign that you are as invested as you are asking your brethren to be.

Third, announce in lodge, via email, and even in casual conversation, that the lodge is collecting food. Have the director of the food bank come give a quick talk at a lodge meeting to describe the need and talk about what they do.

Fourth, follow through and remind the brethren. If you get a thank-you note, read it in lodge or ask your secretary to do so. Keep talking about this effort. What I do, since we do not have a fee for dinner, is encourage every brother to bring one non-perishable item for the food drive in exchange for the fine repast they enjoy. Better yet, bring two items, because you know that someone else will have forgotten.

In my estimation, this is one of the most important things we can be doing to support the community in which we live and work. Not only does it help people and keep us true to our promise, but it helps demystify Freemasonry by bringing us into the community in a visible way. That leads to questions and to more petitions for membership. You can’t ask for a better combination of all-around good results.

Oh yeah – no, that photo is not from my lodge’s food drive. We don’t have that much collected right now. Many thanks to ladybugbkt, who put this photo on Flickr.

Use H&R Block and They Will Donate to Shriners Hospitals for Children

Folks, if you are going to use a tax preparation service this year, please print out this flyer (pdf) and bring it with you to H&R Block. They will donate $25 to the Shriners Hospitals for Children.

Shriners Hospitals for Children® is a health care system of 22 hospitals dedicated to improving the lives of children by providing specialty pediatric care, innovative research and outstanding teaching programs. Children up to the age of 18 with orthopaedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries and cleft lip and palate are eligible for admission and receive all care in a family-centered environment with no financial obligation to patients or families.

That’s right – free medical care for kids and it doesn’t cost you a nickel to help out.

Charity: The Bond of Peace and the Perfection of Every Virtue

My lodge is doing something interesting this weekend. Not only is it our annual Grand Lodge meeting in Richmond, to which a number of us are going, we are also raising money and shaving our heads. Well, not the whole lodge. Two of us are, anyway – Bro. Drew and me. The charity we are raising money for is the Children’s National Medical Center’s cancer research. Check it out! What is your lodge doing to support charitable organizations?

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