April 2023: Rallying the Team for Masons4Mitts
As the final few minutes of the Masons4Mitts season ticked away, Jon Rick kept refreshing his browser tab. Each time, his team’s total kept inching up—as did two others of his district’s teams, in what was turning into a heated three-way race. “Even with the program’s being tied to a sport, which is naturally competitive, and our having a friendly competition within the fraternity, I was surprised by how competitive the teams got,” says Rick, the master of Consuelo No. 325 who was serving as a first-time captain for the Northside Sharks Masons4Mitts team in 2022.
The fundraising aspect may well have brought out the sportsman in local lodges’ membership, but ultimately the big winner was the kids. Thanks in part to that last-minute flurry of activity, Rick’s Northside Sharks team set a team record for donations to Masons4Mitts. So too did the entire San Diego region, which raised more than $50,000 benefitting the San Diego Padres’ Foundation for Children. In fact, Masons set fundraising records in all four Major League partner regions in 2022, setting a new single-season high of $281,206 for the program—the equivalent of more than 14,000 mitts.
Now, as the 2023 Major League Baseball season kicks off, Rick is looking to tap back into that friendly competitive spirit to raise the bar even higher. This season, the statewide program—in partnership with the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of California—expects to pass $2 million in total to its four MLB community partners.
Rick won’t be alone in trying to reach that goal. In fact, in 2023, there are an incredible 23 first-time Masons4Mitts team captains signed up to lead awareness- and fundraising drives among local lodges. (That’s 17 in Northern California, and six in SoCal.) That’s a good thing: Just as with a big-league baseball team, it’s often those rookie call-ups who can help push a team from good to great. Even Rick is now sharing captain duties with a first-timer, in Sevan Serafino of Vista No. 687.
Get used to seeing a lot of playing time from all those first-timers: The goal this year is for captains to reach every lodge in their district each month during the season—that's every lodge, every month—to explain the program, where the funds go, and the difference it makes in the lives of young people in the area.
That's an important point. Far from just giving a kid a mitt, Masons4Mitts’ Major League partner foundations are able to provide young people—often those living in disadvantaged communities—with an enriching summer experience that goes far beyond the game of baseball. Many of the youth leagues also incorporate educational programming about nutrition, fitness, anti-bullying, and some social services like eye exams. The Los Angeles Dodgers’ community foundation’s slogan, for instance, is “Bigger Than Baseball”—a reference to the wide range of educational, health care, and youth development programs it operates or sponsors.
“That philanthropic aspect, of supporting young folks in need, really speaks to me,” Rick says. “That’s something that drew me to Masonry in the very beginning. For all the friendly competition, I think the brothers really rallied around the fact that we’re supporting youth who might otherwise not have access to this kind of activity. That’s what really sells it—it’s at the core of Masonry and the tenets we hold dear.”
In 2022, Masons posted a banner year for Masons4Mitts—including surpassing $1 million in lifetime gifts to the San Francisco Giants Community Fund. This season, the goal is to reach $2 million in lifetime donations to its four MLB community partners. To get there, it’s crucial that Masons4Mitts captains and lodge officers are able to rally support from within their membership. Here are a few tips for making the most of this seminal season.
1. Every Lodge, Every Month
Rick and other Masons4Mitts captains have been challenged to connect with every lodge in their district, every month. Rick says that requires both frequent in-person visits, and also having a strong deputy presence elsewhere. “Basically it means finding a point person in every lodge and making a strong connection with them,” Rick says. “Then they can make sure that Masons4Mitts is being discussed in every stated meeting.” As master of his lodge, Rick is already planning to have members of his group attend meetings at their neighboring lodges. This year, he says, he plans to incorporate a Masons4Mitts pitch into each of those visits. “And that hat’s definitely going to go around,” he says with a laugh.
2. Refine Your Pitch
Like any good hurler, you have to adjust your pitch based on who it’s being delivered to. Sometimes, that means emphasizing the friendly fundraising competition with other lodges. At other times, it means stressing the benefits of the youth sports programs that Masons4Mitts supports. The websites for each partner foundation—Junior Giants, the Dodgers’ Dreamteam, the Padres Rookie League, and Angels RBI—have great information about who they serve and what kids taking part in them get out of the programs.
3. Get in the Game!
Masonry isn’t just for talking about in the lodge room. It’s meant to be put into practice in the real world. Programs of the California Masonic Foundation like Masons4Mitts are one of the best and easiest ways to exemplify your Masonic values—and make a real impact in your community. By signing up as Masons4Mitts captains, members can take another step and volunteer their time and energy to supporting this fun and valuable program. If other members show an interest in getting involved, connect them to a representative from the Foundation, or recruit them to help with some of the captain’s duties. Put that energy and drive to work!
4. Have Fun Out There
One of the best and most rewarding parts of the Masons4Mitts season comes on Masons Night at the Ballpark, when members, captains, and their families come together to celebrate a successful season and take in a ballgame. It’s a reminder that for all the good the program achieves, it’s also about fun and friendship. Special-event discounted tickets to each of the four games can be purchased at Masons4Mitts.org.
For Your Trestleboard
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Masonic Homes of California Resources
Masonic Youth Order Resources Library
Stay on track of lodge business and prepare for important deadlines. Here’s your April checklist.
- Prepare any proposed legislation for Annual Communication, due April 24.
- If you haven’t yet, attend or make plans to attend the Master & Wardens Retreat. Retreats are still open for Irvine (April 14-16, Lake Tahoe (May 5-7), and Indian Wells (May 19-21). Register now.
- Begin preparing 2024 program plan.
- Begin preparing 2024 budget, remembering to set aside funds for retreat attendance.
- Begin preparing 2024 officer appointments.
- Begin preparing 2024 installation of officers.
- Review all candidates’ progress toward advancement.
- Begin tracking 100 percent officer giving to the Annual Fund, with officers setting an example through gifts that represent their capability as well as their commitment to our charitable programs.
- Continue to collect delinquent dues from members (were due on January 1).
- Send list of members with late dues to the master for the Retention Committee.
- Send any suspension notices.
- Charity Committee considers remissions.
- If your lodge has employees, file quarterly federal payroll tax form 941 (unless IRS has approved an annual filing of form 944, due in February, or the lodge is using the Paychex payroll system).
- If your lodge has employees, file quarterly state payroll tax form DE9/DE9C and deposit form DE88 unless the lodge is using the Paychex payroll system.
- Prepare and file annual tax returns (IRS form 990 and FTB form 199), both due by May 15, unless your lodge has previously agreed to have Grand Lodge prepare these tax forms.
- For lodges that are not using Intacct, per CMC, submit your 2022 annual financial report to Grand Lodge.
- Audit lodge books, to be completed by end of month.
- Prepare form 200, due to Grand Lodge by May 15.
- Prepare and file annual tax returns (IRS form 990 and FTB form 199), both due by May 15 to the IRS, unless the Hall is using Intacct and opted in to the Grand Lodge preparation service.
- Prepare insurance premium payment, due in May.
Questions? Contact Member Services at email@example.com or (415) 776-7000.
Last month, we asked how many EA degrees your lodge has scheduled for 2023. Of those who responded:
- 0 - 8%
- 1 - 4%
- 2 - 4%
- 3 - 29%
- 4 - 22%
- 5 - 11%
- 6 - 11%
- 8 - 7%
- 9 - 4%
- 10 - 4%