Grand Master Randall Brill reflects on 125 years of history and progress at the Masonic Homes of California.
Diveristy in Friendship
by Antone R.E. Pierucci
Joe Babineau has something in common with an increasing share of the members of Destiny № 856, the on-campus lodge at the Masonic Homes in Covina: He doesn’t live there.
A charter member of the lodge and its current master, Babineau exemplifies the ways in which both of the Masonic Homes’ lodges, Destiny № 856 and Siminoff № 850, have grown not just up but out. In Covina, nearly two-thirds of members do not live at the Masonic Homes. In Union City, the split of membership in Siminoff № 850 is closer to 60–40 between residents and nonresidents. But that number keeps tilting toward those living off campus. “It’s one of the exciting things about being a member here,” says Gerald Chandler, secretary of Destiny № 856. “All the energy from the younger guys makes for a good experience.”
The result is that the two lodges, which were chartered in 2007 and 2014, respectively, and designed to serve residents of the Masonic Homes, are now among the fastest-growing groups in the state.
One of the most common sources of new members are employees at the Masonic Homes. That includes Joseph Pritchard, past master of Siminoff Lodge, who is also the Masonic Homes’ chief clinical officer. The same goes for Destiny № 856, where the lodge often holds thank you events for the staff to show their appreciation. “The employees see us do our work here and they get interested,” Chandler says.
Between employees and outside prospects, Destiny № 856 has initiated seven new members this year, with another two scheduled and several more in the pipeline.
Other than their retirement-home location, members say the lodges operate fairly typically— with a few exceptions. Siminoff meets during the afternoon, while at Destiny, stated meetings include dinner whipped up by the Masonic Homes’ executive chef.
Then there’s the age factor. McCain points out that Siminoff has 15 “golden veterans” with 50 years in Masonry on its rolls. Destiny Lodge has eight. “We frequently have members of the memory care unit come to lodge,” he says. “Some can remember their memory work but for the most part, they participate as sideliners, and we’re honored by their presence.”
Beyond that—and the convenience factor of having a lodge just steps from home—the chance to form new friendships and stay engaged with one another is the real draw. “At the end of the day,” Chandler says, “our older members feel like they’re at home in lodge.”
Even the ones who don’t actually live there.
Above: Members of Destiny No. 856, the Masonic Homes of California’s on-campus lodge in Covina, pose outside their hall. Increasingly, members of the lodge live outside the Masonic Homes.
Inset: The Siminoff Masonic Center in Union City, home of Siminoff Daylight No. 850.
More from this issue:
Thanks to a novel partnership with Dig Deep Farms, the agricultural heritage of the Masonic Homes is being brought back to life.