This fraternal year, 67 brothers made individual Let’s Write the Future Pace Setter pledges of $10,000 to $100,000 from their own savings. These leadership-level gifts inspired hundreds of other brothers from throughout the state to follow their example. Meet some of these generous donors and learn why they decided to give back.onic Home of Union City, Schwartz and Bomark-Noel began to converse in an unusual way. Shortly before they met, Bomark-Noel had suffered several strokes that limited in his ability to communicate. Yet Schwartz recognized a kinship in his brother and struck up a conversation. It was the beginning of what has become a deeply meaningful friendship.


King David’s Lodge No. 209, Las Palmas-Ponderosa Lodge No. 366, Sanger Lodge No. 316

Master Mason for 9 Years

For David Coss, supporting the fraternity is a great passion. He is a two-time past master – of Sanger Lodge No. 316 and King David’s Lodge No. 209 – as well as secretary of Sanger Lodge, a role he has held for several years. 

He is a former senior grand steward, and in November 2018, he was installed as a district inspector. This year, he chose to support the Let’s Write the Future campaign as a Pace Setter donor.

How did you learn about Masonry?

In 2003, I was deployed in Afghanistan and met a guy who was most likely a Prince Hall Mason. The more he talked about Masonry, the more I realized it was something I wanted to be a part of. The idea of learning something beyond normal everyday life and being able to think deeply about religion, theology, and something greater than myself was really appealing to me.

What’s been most rewarding to you about being a Mason?

The friendships. I have met the highest caliber of people with the best intentions in life, and they have all just treated me like a friend. And, I value the diversity of these friendships. I’m a firefighter and a soldier, but I have friends in the lodge who are educators, CEOs, CFOs – we all come together and enjoy each other’s company. It’s a giant family.

What’s been most rewarding to you about being a Mason?

The friendships. I have met the highest caliber of people with the best intentions in life, and they have all just treated me like a friend. And, I value the diversity of these friendships. I’m a firefighter and a soldier, but I have friends in the lodge who are educators, CEOs, CFOs – we all come together and enjoy each other’s company. It’s a giant family.

What inspired you to support the Let’s Write the Future campaign?

I believe that we have an inherent responsibility to take care of those who come after us, be it our relatives, our friends, or our neighbors. As human beings, and as Masons, we should be looking to help everyone we can.

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to visit both of the Masonic Homes campuses for the first time. I met the people, I saw what we were doing there, and I thought to myself: “If this isn’t something a person should get behind, then there really is nothing else.” We take care of other people. We do something greater than ourselves for people who can’t help themselves. I don’t want to hear about our brother Masons struggling in the later part of their lives. There’s a place for them.

Does the literacy campaign also resonate with you?

Yes. I consider reading and writing to be some of the greatest joys in my life. When I read, I can get lost. Many of my family members are also educators, and I know from personal experience that literacy programs can make a huge difference for students.

How has it been rewarding to support the fraternity’s charities?

I can directly see the impact that we’re having on people – at the Masonic Homes and in our communities. It feels good. This whole endeavor of ours is amazing!


Irvine Valley Lodge No. 671

Master Mason for 2 Years

Fares Khoury has only been a Master Mason for two years, but he’s been living the values of Freemasonry for much longer. In his professional career, he advocates for children with disabilities to gain the care they need to live empowering, fulfilling lives. He’s also a devoted brother and a Pace Setter donor to the Let’s Write the Future campaign.

How did you learn about Masonry?

I’d always heard about Masons since I was young child in Jordan. But it was always a mystery to me who the Freemasons were until I came to the United States. Soon after, I learned that I had a relative who was a Freemason in Indiana. He suggested that I talk to a local lodge so I did.

Why did you want to join?

I learned that the fraternity is a huge brotherhood that’s all over the world. I love that all people, all men, who are brothers are equal, regardless of their race, social status, religious views – it’s made me want to be part of the fraternity that has these values. And, I love helping people. I’ve always wanted to help the poor, hungry, children, disabled people, and I found that shared focus in Freemasonry. Its charitable work is noticeable everywhere.

What’s been rewarding about being a Mason?

Freemasonry makes people feel good to be a part of it, and to live its core values. When I first came to the lodge, the brothers were automatically welcoming. The minute I walked in, I knew I would be part of these men who shared my same core values. When I took my obligation, knowing that every Mason had my same feelings, made the experience very meaningful to me.

What inspired you to support the Let’s Write the Future campaign?

Freemasonry is a big organization that helps the elderly through the Masonic Homes, helps kids through Raising A Reader, and has so many other programs that work to improve society. I know that sometimes the brothers who go to the Masonic Homes may be separated from their spouses because they need medical devices or special care. The Let’s Write the Future campaign reminds us of our obligation to take care of our brothers and their wives and widows. Being personally involved in this campaign makes me feel good. It reminds me of all the good core values of Freemasonry.

What advice do you have for other Masons?

I truly encourage all brothers to support the fraternity. Our California Masonic Foundation is based on charity. Being part of that – no matter what amount you can donate – is meaningful. Someone will be helped by your gift. It’s amazing to be part of that.

I always say: You get what you put in. In Freemasonry, if you just pay your dues and don’t participate, it will become dull for you. It’s important to attend the stated meetings, to come into the ritual to develop yourself and to see other individuals become Masons. The lodge itself is a learning experience. And to learn, you need to be there.

Any last thoughts?

I’m proud to be a Mason. I’m proud to be a part of the oldest fraternity in the world. I am happy to be involved in this organization that does so much for men, and for the rest of society. Each of us makes a difference in this world.


La Parfaite Union Lodge No. 17, Peninsula Lodge No. 168

Master Mason for 15 Years

Sebastien Taveau has been deeply involved in California Masonry for many years. Since he was raised a Master Mason in 2003, he has served two terms as assistant grand lecturer for Division I, six years as an inspector, and is past master of Peninsula Lodge No. 168. 

Also a California Masonic Foundation donor for several years, this year he chose to lead the fraternity as a Let’s Write the Future Pace Setter donor. Here we learn more about his experience in the brotherhood and desire to give back.

How did you learn about Masonry?
My father was a Mason. We didn’t talk about it very often, and he never pressured me to join, but he told me, “If you ever need to understand the fabric of the community you are in, or to make friends, you can always knock at the door of a temple.”

When I relocated to California with my family, my neighbor across the street had a square and compass on his car. He was a nice guy and welcomed us to the neighborhood. One day I told him I was interested in joining. He said “Finally!” and gave me the petition he’d been carrying with him for me for three months.

What’s been most rewarding about being a Mason?
I travel a lot and I can go to any country and be welcomed as family. Sometimes it can be scary to travel the world if you don’t understand the culture, or even the language, and you are trying to understand how to navigate everything. Having a community that’s willing to help – to stretch out a hand at any time – is priceless. And, Freemasonry forces you to go beyond the borders of your own mind.

What inspired you to support the Let’s Write the Future campaign?
For me, it’s very important to take care of our community. I hope that if someday I need the community, that they will also help me. If someone spends their lives giving to Freemasonry – and I don’t just mean money; I mean their time, their energy, their vacations – it makes sense that we will take care of them later when they can’t give as much. At some point, we all get tired and need to put the gavel down. Everything we put in, we give back.

What would you say to encourage potential donors?
Try monthly payments – it helps you plan. Give when you can. Some years you will be able to give and some you simply cannot. That’s OK. Don’t wait for the “what if.” If your circumstances change, at least you started something. It’s just like Yoda said: “Do or do not; there is no try.”


Willow Glen-Fraternity Lodge No. 399

Master Mason for 22 Years

In addition to serving as an inspector for eight years and as marshal of Willow Glen-Fraternity Lodge No. 399 (where he is a three-time past master), W. Joe Campell is leading our fraternity’s philanthropic efforts. He is a member of the Let’s Write the Future Steering Committee, and this year became a Pace Setter donor to the Let’s Write the Future campaign.

Here, we learn more about what inspires him as a Masonic leader, a brother, and a supporter of the California Masonic Foundation.

Why did you decide to become a Mason?

I’ve known about Masonry my whole life – a lot of great men I knew were Masons – but since my dad was in the service, we always moved around a lot. When I settled in California as an adult, I started to learn more about Masonry from a fraternity standpoint. I found out that a member of our church was a Mason, and asked him about joining.

What inspired you to support the Let’s Write the Future campaign?

We have to think about what’s best for society, and taking care of our elders is an important part of that. The Pace Setter gifts seem like a big number, but when you look at all the services the Foundation supports there’s a great return on the investment.

I also feel that the Let’s Write the Future campaign is encouraging the fraternity to look back on its roots. When we become Masons, we take an obligation to care for each other. But I think over time, some of the lodges kind of drifted from that. Now that it’s a focal point, the conversations with some of the lodges I work with have changed. There’s a renewed energy to move our charities forward. The Pace Setter donations seem high when you look at the numbers, but when you think about all the things the money goes to support – the Masonic Homes, Raising A Reader, and everything else – you know it’s being put to good use.

What’s most appealing to you about Freemasonry?

How it’s structured and what its purpose is. Our fraternity has always been giving, so from a community standpoint, the charities, the work – everything that Masonry tries to do for people really resonates with me. It’s an organization that has standards to be a member; you can’t just write a check. The nondenominational focus is important to me, and that there isn’t any one person better than another.

How do the two focuses of the Let’s Write the Future campaign resonate with you?

I’m deeply involved with both causes personally. I’ve sat on the board of a foundation affiliated with a senior community since 1985. Supporting seniors is important. Here in California, it’s especially so – the cost of living is so high. And, we all age.

On the youth side of it, I’m involved in Junior Achievement and the Boy Scouts, and I’m a strong believer in education. I made sure that all of my kids went to a four-year university and continued on to get masters’ degrees before they quit. Education is critical. It’s something that you can’t take away – that knowledge, those skills – will always help you. If you’re educated, you can learn, you can understand, and you can question.

Why did you decide to become a Pace Setter donor?

I’ve been giving for a long time – I was an Annual Fund donor, then increased it a little bit more, and when the Grand Master Circle came about, I decided to donate the reimbursements for my inspector expenses. Now that I’m getting a bit older, my wife and I sat down and looked to see how we might be able to support the things that are most important to us. We’re passionate about this organization, and it made sense for us to give.


Mountain View De Anza Lodge No. 194

Master Mason for 5 Years

Why did you decide to become a Mason?

I found out that my great-grandfather was made a Mason in 1917 in New York. Later, I was given his apron with 1917 written on it, and I saw some of his other Masonic documents. When I came across a lodge downtown where I live, I decided to contact Grand Lodge to learn more.

What’s been most rewarding to you about being a Mason?

The brotherhood and consistent, strong friendships. The ritual and the officers’ schools of instruction. I really enjoy giving to Grand Lodge charities and learning about how our support benefits others.

Do you feel that the lessons you’ve learned through Freemasonry carry through to the rest of your daily life?

Absolutely. Every single day, I think about how I can be a better person and help others. I think about the lessons in the degrees, what they mean, and how I can apply them.

What inspired you to support the Let’s Write the Future campaign?

I want to be able to ensure that Masons who need help can be served through the Masonic Homes. It’s important to me to know that couples will be able to stay together even if they need different types of care. I’m 41 and I’m not planning to need to go into a Masonic Home, but I sure am happy to know that it’s available if someday I do.

PHOTO CREDIT: Orange Photography

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