California Freemason – Revolutions Issue

With the Masonic Center for Youth and Families, A Chance to Begin Again

At MCYAF, families get the resources and support they need to launch a new beginning.

By Drea Roemer

The Masonic Center for Youth and Families offers support and services in-person and online for clients throughout California. To learn more, visit

Starting over is hard. It means letting go of something, or someone. It carries the weight of uncertainty. Add in the unpredictability brought on by a global pandemic and embarking on a new beginning can seem an immense undertaking. Even beyond the myriad practical considerations—a job, a house, a marriage, a family—the emotional hurdle can feel insurmountable. 

When COVID hit, Sara (a pseudonym) was going through a divorce and caring for a young child. Then she lost her job. Unable to cover rent, she and her daughter moved in with her parents until she could get back on her feet. Meanwhile, her daughter, who had just started elementary school, was trying to make sense of what was happening in the world outside and her world at home. Already, Sara felt she was doing everything she could to keep their lives from spiraling out of control. Then things got even heavier. 

Sara’s daughter started having a tough time at school—getting into fights at recess, withdrawing during class, talking back at teachers. Then Sara got a call from a counselor: Her daughter was showing signs of self-harm. 

Sara was referred to the Masonic Center for Youth and Families, which was under contract with the school district to provide emotional, behavioral, and therapeutic services for children, teens, and families. Twice a week for the rest of the semester, counselors from MCYAF met with Sara, her daughter, and even the grandparents over Zoom, talking about what was going on in their lives and helping each family member come to grips with their circumstances. “It was first-time therapy for everyone,” says Jodi Mikel, the program manager for MCYAF. “But they really leaned into our online sessions, which set the tone for the child. Therapy was helpful, something we looked forward to.” 

Six months later Sara found a job, and she and her daughter were able to move into a new home. Already the sessions had helped the family stabilize. Together they were ready to start anew. 

At MCYAF, Help Moving Forward

Currently, Goodwin oversees a partnership between MCYAF and the Pomona Unified School District, which serves approximately 30,000 students from pre-K through high school. The community was hit hard by the pandemic, and many students lost one or more family members to COVID. Youth going through so much uncertainty and loss often blame themselves, and they either shut down or act out. That’s where MCYAF comes in. “When a kid acts out at school, the question is often, ‘What’s the matter with you?’” Goodwin says. “But the trauma-informed question—the one we ask—is ‘What happened to you?’ The behavior is a byproduct of what they have been through.” 

By addressing issues holistically, and working with the whole family when possible, MCYAF empowers kids, adolescents, and caretakers to endure through difficult times and forge new beginnings together. Using compassionate and well-researched techniques like trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy, MYCAF’s counselors help people develop effective tools to cope with trauma so they can start living life again. “In a sense,” Goodwin says, “they start a new story of who they are and who their family is.” 

With the recent rise in mental health needs among all demographics, MCYAF is more in demand than ever, serving an ever-increasing number of youth and families, as well as seniors living in the Masonic Homes. It continues to offer help via telehealth and through in-person sessions at its San Francisco and Covina locations. MCYAF is currently focused on partnerships with schools and districts, as well as increasing outreach services throughout California, with a focus on underserved communities. 

For support and information about the Masonic Homes of California or Masonic Outreach Services,
call (888) 466-3642.

To volunteer with the Lodge Outreach Program,
call (888) 466-3642 or email

We’re Here to Help


  • Information and referrals
  • Senior communities in Covina and Union City
  • Statewide Masonic Outreach Services for members of all ages and their families
  • Transitions short-term care for neurological and post-surgical rehabilitation (Union City)
  • The Masonic Center for Youth and Families in San Francisco and Covina – with telehealth services now available everywhere
  • NEW! Shared housing for seniors in Covina

Contact us today to access your member benefits and services:
(888) 466-3642
(877) 488-6293 (San Francisco)
(626) 251-2300 (Covina)

Nicole Xu

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