Every year, scores of Masons and their wives move to the Coachella Valley to retire – often, after a lifetime of service to lodges elsewhere. Last year, Palm Springs Lodge No. 693 vowed to support them all.
Led by Arman Ordian, the lodge’s Outreach Committee compiled a list of elder brothers and widows living in the area, regardless of lodge affiliation. They called to check on their well-being, and offer friendship and support. Ordian, who works as a funeral home manager, also volunteered as training coordinator for Masonic Outreach Services’ (MOS) Lodge Outreach Program, helping other district lodges with their efforts.
To celebrate this excellence in outreach, MOS recognized Palm Springs Lodge with the 2017 Joe Jackson Award. The annual award is named for 60-year Mason and Hiram Award recipient Joe Jackson, whose service led to today’s Lodge Outreach Program. “It’s a great honor,” says Ordian, “but we still have a lot to do. We have a huge community, and it’s growing. It’s our duty to make sure we’re there when families need us.”
Q: What do you consider the most important aim of outreach phone calls?
Ordian: Some brothers have dedicated 50 or 60 years to the craft, and now they or their spouse need help – but many are reluctant to ask. We need to serve them by explaining their benefits through the Masonic Homes and Masonic Assistance. Our job is to say: ‘Look at the back of your dues card, and call the 800 number if you need anything. You’ve done your duty as a dedicated brother. Now, this is your right.’
Q: What are some examples of hands-on outreach?
Ordian: We often drop by once a week to offer help around the house. Maybe there’s a brother or widow who needs someone to mow the yard or do the grocery shopping. I received a call from a brother who needed a lightbulb changed on a ceiling light. Every six months, I went to visit him and change it. One part of Masonic Outreach is reaching out to our brethren so they know the fraternity is alive, and that they haven’t been forgotten after all their years. Every day, it’s the chance to do something good, to make someone’s life better.
Q: Any special advice for widow outreach?
Ordian: Our care for our widows is our tribute to our late brothers. When a brother passes away, we need to continue our connection with his widow. We make sure she’s receiving the Trestleboard: If the lodge was emailing it to her husband, she might not have access to his email or an account of her own, so we make an effort drop off a printed copy. We drive her to dinner before stated meeting. We give her a flower to acknowledge her importance and her husband’s service to the lodge. When a holiday comes around, we make an extra effort to be around, to bring her to lodge, and to invite her to our homes. We don’t think of it as offering assistance – we are offering friendship. That feeling of compassion and understanding can offer a great deal of comfort and healing.
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