California Freemason: Prince Hall, Then and Now

Masonic Assistance

The Masonic Homes: Now A Home For All CalifornIA MASONS

For the first time, Prince Hall Masons have access to relief through the Masonic Homes of California

By Ian A. Stewart

When George Garlington, a member of the Prince Hall Stanley Y. Beverley Lodge № 108 in Suisun City, first laid eyes on the Masonic Homes retirement campus in Union City, he was stunned: Here was a 267- acre village in the rolling hills of the East Bay, erected over a century ago for the care of Masons and their families, standing as a living testament to Masonic values of brotherly love, relief, and truth. “There’s really something here for almost everyone, no matter how old you are or what your needs are,” he marveled.

Citrus Heights Center at the Masonic Homes of California, Covina campus
Citrus Heights Center opening soon at the Masonic Homes of California, Covina campus

And now, finally, it was here for him, too. Thanks to changes in eligibility announced in 2023, for the first time in its 125-year history, the Masonic Homes of California is now open to Prince Hall Masons, as well as their spouses, parents, and parents-in-law—providing access to Masonic relief services to more California Masons than ever before. That includes entry into the Masonic Homes’ retirement communities in Union City and Covina. Says Prince Hall Grand Master David San Juan, who accompanied Garlington on the spring tour, “I couldn’t be more excited.”

The partnership is an important step in bringing the two fraternal organizations closer together. It’s also serving an immediate need: The average cost of senior housing rose more than 5 percent nationwide in 2023, an almost five-fold increase in the historic year-over-year costs. Through the Masonic Homes’ communities, which include independent living for those 60 and up, as well as assisted living and skilled nursing (including memory care for those with dementia and memory loss), Prince Hall Masons and their families now have access to senior living that’s affordable and, for many, close to home.

Masonic Outreach, Just a Call Away

But the Masonic Homes is more than just a retirement community. The organization also includes Masonic Outreach Services, a statewide program that provides Masons and their family members with connections to in-home care options and other local benefits, as well as case management and, for eligible applicants, one-time emergency funds. In fact, Masonic Outreach serves more clients each year than do either of the two retirement communities.

There’s also the Masonic Center for Youth and Families, which is also now available to Prince Hall Masons. MCYAF offers mental health services, educational assessments, and therapy for families, couples, and people of all ages both online and in person at its San Francisco and Covina offices. At a time when teenagers are experiencing what’s been described as a mental health crisis—and when mental health care providers are either prohibitively expensive or impossible to access—MCYAF ensures Masons and their families will never be turned away for lack of funds. Taken together, these services provide California Masons from both fraternities with the ability to tap into a powerful resource and offer members an incredible safety net—something that’s been the backbone of California Masonry for more than a century.

Masonic Homes residents gather in the library of the Covina retirement community.
Masonic Homes residents gather in the library of the Covina retirement community.

By coming together around the Masonic Homes, the two grand lodges are embodying a model that Grand Master San Juan says he’s eager to have serve as an inspiration for others. “What I’d like to see is what we’re doing here leading the way for jurisdictions all over the United States,” he says. “And that they, too, would come together as brothers, hand in hand, arm in arm, shoulder to shoulder.”


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