At Santa Barbara No. 192, Masonic Relief Comes From the Heart
FOR DON GOLDBERG AND SANTA BARBARA No. 192, OUTREACH ISN’T JUST AN OBLIGATION—IT’S AN IMPERATIVE.
By Ian A. Stewart
Sometimes, when Don Goldberg calls up members of Santa Barbara No 192 to check and see how they’re doing, the call leads to nothing. Maybe a little chat, an invitation to come to a lodge dinner. Sometimes, it’s an offer to come over and help out with some chores or a ride to the doctor’s. But sometimes it leads to more. John Logan was one of those cases.
Goldberg is the head of Santa Barbara No. 192’s visitation committee, through which he’s been the lodge outreach point man for more than a decade. Every week, he combs through the lodge’s roster of seniors, widows, and others who haven’t been accounted for to check on their well-being. When he first met Logan, he was in his 90s. His wife had died several years earlier, and he had no other family and seemingly no friends in his life.
“He’d reached a point where it was unsafe for him to remain alone at home,” Goldberg remembers. So he spent time with him, making a point to call once a week. Then more. Soon he was stopping by three or four times a week. He arranged to bring in two hired caregivers. Before long, he’d agreed to exercise power of attorney over Logan’s finances, helping him balance his accounts and establish a will. A year or so later, he found an assisted living facility for Logan to move in to. “It turned out to be wonderful,” Goldberg says. he recorded a series of interviews with Logan about his life and military experience. And when the time came two years later, Goldberg arranged Logan’s funeral, inviting members of the lodge to recognize someone who’d nearly become a forgotten brother.
For some, Masonic outreach is an obligation. For Goldberg and members of his lodge, it’s become a calling. In recognition of that, this fall, he and members of Santa Barbara No. 192 were honored with the Joe Jackson Award, given each year by the Masonic Homes of California to the lodge that best exemplifies the spirit of outreach championed by the late Jackson, who helped establish the Lodge Outreach Program in 2011. “Santa Barbara No. 192 and particularly Don Goldberg have consistently gone above and beyond to connect with their members and put their Masonic ideals into practice,” says Sabrina Montes, the executive director of Masonic Outreach Services.
Leading the Charge for Masonic Outreach
Within the lodge, Goldberg has led that charge. Says Nicholas Luizzi, the current lodge master, “We are very proud of our Masonic outreach, whereby we take care of not just Masons but anyone in need of support and relief. And Don is absolutely instrumental in finding that pathway.” Says the senior warden, Alex Black, “There’s nobody in our lodge who embodies service and the tenets of Masonry like brotherly love, relief, and truth like Brother Goldberg. He is the embodiment of all those things.”
By his own count, Goldberg has kept visitation files on nearly 40 elderly members or widows. Of those, 13 have been officially referred to Masonic Assistance, while many others receive help directly through the lodge. He has also organized 21 Masonic funerals.
“From day one, Don and I clicked,” says Kai Hoye, the MOS care manager responsible for Division V, which covers central California. “When it comes to older brothers, a lot of lodges don’t see them, and that’s that. But led by Don, Santa Barbara Lodge really does make it a priority to check in on them and say, What do you need? A ride? Help reading emails? You don’t see that kind of hands-on participation with many lodges. They not only connect people with resources, they are the resource themselves.”
Hoye recalls several dramatic examples of Goldberg and other Masons from the lodge help- ing seniors in crisis. One, a former prisoner of war in Vietnam, suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and had become an intense hoarder. “Don and the Masons went in with their masks and gloves and garbage bags, and for two days they cleaned up this man’s house,” she recalls. In another case, a couple with severe health issues were living in squalid conditions but refused help. Undeterred, Goldberg regularly met with them for more than 14 months until they allowed MOS to intervene.
When Hoye finally arrived at their house, the situation was so unsafe, she had to call 911 and have both members hospitalized. The husband died shortly thereafter, but his wife recovered and was able to move into an assisted-living home. Today she credits MOS and the lodge with saving her life. “It’s sensitive,” Hoye says. “You can’t force someone to receive help, and Don knew that. But he was just determined to stay true to the brotherhood and to gently keep investigating and letting them know we’re here until they were finally ready.”
That kind of dogged persistence has defined Goldberg’s approach to outreach. It’s not glamorous, and it’s sometimes ugly. But by simply calling—over and over and over, for weeks and months on end—he’s helping the lodge fulfill its obligation to be there for its members at the worst times. Goldberg says he hopes more lodges and members can take up the call and pitch in.
“If you’re going to be a Mason, you should be able to make at least one call a month to someone who is hurting in some way or who’s just too old to come to the lodge,” he says. “That should be something all lodges should incorporate.”
Reflecting on his own exceptional service, Goldberg demurs. “It’s really an act of love,” he says. “You have to have passion for it; otherwise it can be a burden. But, you know, it doesn’t have to be that way.”
More Stories of Joe Jackson Awards
2022: In the Face of Fire, a Heroic Act of Masonic Relief (Kern River Valley No. 827)
2021: Outstanding in Outreach (Beach Cities No. 753)