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Masons Care For Kids

Masons Care For KidsDavid C. Decker, 32
President, California Masonic Foundation
Grand Lodge of California

The Masonic Model Student Assistance Program trains teachers to recognize students at risk, assist them, and direct them to appropriate community services.

Everyday, thousands of children cry out for help. We readily recognize the attention seekers, the bullies, and the rowdies. But what of the child whose cries are silent; the child with a learning difference, the child having trouble staying awake in class, and the child recognized as brilliant yet snubbed by his peers? Cries for help come in a multitude of subtle ways, many of them unrecognized by most of us.

The Masons of California have supported our public schools since the 1920s, and in 1994 we initiated a major change in our approach to caring for our kids. Under the direction of the California Masonic Foundation, "Golden State" Freemasons adopted the National Masonic Foundation's Student Assistance Program which is designed to help educators to recognize at-risk children, to investigate and document their findings and, as necessary, to assist the child by directing him or her to appropriate community services.

California is not the first state to adopt this program. Originally formulated in Pennsylvania, the National Masonic Foundation's program has been adopted by Freemasons in several states in response to a recognized definite need in our society. We hear much about the youth of today becoming the leaders of tomorrow. This is an awesome thought when we think of the problems facing our youngsters.

It's difficult to imagine the young people of our generation coping with the problems children face today. Gum chewing, talking out of turn, running in the halls and cutting in line seem like kindergarten play when we think of gang violence and drive-by shootings, teen pregnancy and suicide, alcohol and drugs -- the things our children and educators encounter daily.

The enthusiasm of educators for the training provided by the Masonic Model Student Assistance Program is evidenced by these typical comments:

"This is the most credible, visible and positive commitment I have seen to support your stated Masonic belief in public school education."

"I can't thank you enough for this very special three days. You've motivated, enlightened, and strengthened my teaching abilities."

"I am proud to be the daughter of a Master Mason -- a group dedicated to children."

For years Masonry has looked for a program that would remind the public of the Masonic Lodges. The Shrine has its children's hospitals and burn institutes; the York Rite has its eye clinics and research centers; and the Scottish Rite has its Childhood Language and Learning Disorders Clinics, Centers, and Programs. By adopting the Student Assistance Program, the Masonic Lodge creates a tie to the community which also promotes our support for the public schools. We have a great opportunity to make a difference, and we, as Freemasons, are happy to be able to make this investment in our country's future.

Given this program, now when anyone asks "What do Masons Do?" we will have an answer.