Lessons in Support
Meet some of the California lodges taking public-schools support into their own hands.
How Sweet the Sound
MOUNTAIN VIEW DE ANZA NO. 194 IS HELPING SAVE THE ARTS IN ITS BACKYARD.
“At this point, it isn’t really Public Schools Month—it’s practically Public Schools Year,” says Past Master Glenn Scott of Mountain View De Anza Lodge No. 194.
For members of the lodge, working with local schools has indeed become a year-round endeavor—and one whose results have been commensurate with the energy they’ve poured into it.
In 2014, the lodge established a sizable endowment earmarked for public-schools support; each year, the proceeds of that endowment are used to fulfill a wish list supplied by middle school arts programs in the Mountain View Whisman School District. That’s turned into practically an entire orchestra’s worth of instruments—things like drums, violins, a euphonium, and a grand piano—and accessories like music stands, new curtains, and stage risers. In total, the lodge has supplied more than $100,000 in equipment since launching the program.
The focus on fine arts support was intentional, if surprising for a lodge located in the beating heart of Silicon Valley. Says Scott, “The sentiment at the time was that science and technology and math were well represented in the Bay Area while the arts were not. But more and more, people are recognizing that the arts are part of a well-rounded technical education.”
The effort has since become a point of pride for the lodge, whose members help deliver the equipment. “It’s not some abstract thing,” Scott says. “The act of delivering a bunch of tubas—it isn’t just writing a check. You get to see the effect it has.”
Twice as Nice
TWO LODGES COME TOGETHER TO SUPPORT SCHOOLS AS ONE
When Reading Lodge No. 254 and Trinity Lodge No. 27 joined a year ago, two historic lodges with deep ties to their communities were bound as one. But for members of the new lodge, it was important that relationships they’d formed over the years with schools in two counties remained strong.
So this year, for the first time, Reading-Trinity Lodge was able to award scholarship to two students in Shasta. The scholarships—$1,000 each for up to four years—aren’t life-changing amounts. But, says Past Master Donald Black, that doesn’t mean they can’t change lives. “We just want to be able to make a difference. And maybe this little bit is enough to help someone make that difference.”
Along with the scholarships, the lodge sponsors a long-running science fair at a local elementary school. This year, the lodge is in discussions with the school district to help fund a new robotics program there—a program that, Black says, some of the younger members of his lodge are eager to promote. “We try to stay relevant,” he says. “We have a commitment to keep supporting these schools. Our lodge knows the importance of paying it forward. If we only take care of our Masons, we forget about our community.”
A NEW LODGE WRITES IT OWN HISTORY
Unlike so many of its sister lodges, Clarence F. Smith Daylight No. 866 didn’t have a long and distinguished history to draw on when it came to community involvement. So it had to write its own.
Last year, the lodge, which is in Van Nuys and received its charter in late 2018, held its first event to honor a local Teacher of the Year. So Master Rogelio L. Soriano and his executive committee came together to launch a search, raise funds, and organize a lunchtime celebration. In April 2019, just five months after its ceremony of constitution, the event came together to honor Hannah Berley Sellers, a 10-year veteran math teacher at Birmingham Community Charter High School in Lake Balboa.
With just 43 members of the lodge, the celebration with Sellers and her family was intimate and informal, but well received by all. “Everybody had a good time,” says lodge member David Karp. “We’re a small group, so we just tried to pull this together, and that’s what we were able to do.”
As the saying goes, from humble beginnings come great things.