In 1867 in downtown Louisville, a group of Masons established the first Masonic Home to care for widows and orphans of Masons lost to the Civil War. Later, more Kentucky widows and orphans arrived as a result of WWI, coal mining accidents and other hardships. Today, the Masonic tradition of charity and giving continues at Masonic Communities, which thrives as an innovative caregiver that offers specialized services to people of all ages and affiliations.
Find out more about some of the incredible things Masons have done in the past and are doing to give back at Masonic Communities Kentucky:
In recent years, as lifespans have continued to increase, Masonic Communities has seen a greater need for programs requiring dementia care.
Masonic Communities is committed to helping improve the quality of life for its dementia residents through a program called “Remember Me,” which will raise money to purchase mobile interactive computers and touch-screen devices. This will allow dementia residents to make the most of their communication and interaction capabilities, and to do so in a positive, engaging way that reduces frustration.
Current grandmaster Tim Sanders and his wife Sue are spearheading the fundraising effort. Tim’s mother, Virginia “Ginny” Sanders, suffered from dementia and passed away last year. Tim and Sue saw how connecting with someone with dementia is not easy, and how keeping them stimulated cognitively, physically, emotionally and spiritually, is difficult at best.
The systems are built on a picture-based, touch-screen interface that allows users to find engaging, educational, spiritual and personalized content that is appropriate for their ability. Among the many examples are familiar church hymns, classic radio/TV broadcasts, trivia, history, and even skyping with family members and others.
The goal is to raise approximately $26,000 to purchase two of the portable units, which can be moved to resident rooms as needed. To help reach the goal, a special lapel pin has been designed after the famous “Forget-Me- Not” flower that is available for a $10 donation.
Abraham Lodge No. 8 F.&A.M.
Abraham Lodge has been a long-time supporter of the work of the Masonic Communities. Its members make annual gifts to each of the Masonic Communities, volunteer for the Great Day of Service and provide support for the Giving Tree program at Masonic Communities Shelbyville.
When Masonic Communities established the Legacy Garden, Abraham No. 8 purchased pavers with the names of each of their Lodge members—a huge commitment that deeply touched the leadership of the Masonic Communities. When Pillars Assisted Care needed a new Christmas tree to replace the one they had used for many years, Abraham No. 8 replaced the tree with a showstopper that reaches the ceiling.
Masonic Communities is grateful for the continued, generous support from Abraham Lodge.
Great Day of Service
In 2018, Masonic Communities celebrated 13 years of Masonic Brothers, Lodges, neighbors, staff and friends coming together to prepare the campuses in Louisville and Shelbyville for spring.
Each year, an average of almost 300 volunteers gather on the two campuses to share fellowship and a little elbow grease. Tasks vary from year to year and can include spreading mulch, planting spring flowers, washing windows, washing residents’ cars and polishing memorial tree markers. Some volunteers travel nearly four hours to attend the days at Masonic Communities’ Louisville and Shelbyville campuses and show their support.
Saint John’s Day League
In 1887, a small group of kind-hearted Masons formed a committee to entertain the children of Masonic Home. The group officially formed the Saint John’s Day League in 1892, which organized an annual picnic for the widows and children featuring food, games and plenty of fun. It was the beginning of a long and successful marriage between the two organizations that continues to this day.
The League was also primarily responsible for the construction of the St. John’s Day League Infirmary, which served as a hospital for the orphans, and later as a nursing community. The League also supported additions to the building as the need arose, and contributed significantly to Masonic Communities Shelbyville.
In more recent years, Sharon and Tom Winters, and later Al and Peg Wenlund, took up the charge on behalf of the League, contributing many hours of hard work and travel, and a dedication to its mission that rivaled that of their predecessors. Although Al passed away this year and Peg in 2016, the Wenlunds’ and Winters’ legacy remains.