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Twice as Nice for 2020
Joe Jackson Award Winners
By Ian A Stewart
This year, that approach was rewarded as the two Southern California lodges were honored with the Joe Jackson Award, given each year since 2014 by the Masonic Homes of California to a lodge or member who embodies the late Jackson’s dedication to service. The lodges have both taken that pledge to heart, but what’s made them stand out is an openness to creativity and partnership that’s helped their shared ventures stretch even further. Says Sabrina Montes, the executive director of Masonic Outreach Services (MOS) at the Masonic Homes, “It isn’t the quantity of referrals a lodge makes that matters, but the quality of their outreach efforts. The leadership, involvement with MOS, and partnering with each other to better serve their communities is what made Anacapa and Oxnard lodges stand out,” she says.
Many of the two lodges’ charity initiatives are simple but effective. Because both lodges are located in Oxnard and share a number of members, leaders have formed a single, joint widows committee. Says Oxnard No. 341 then-master Derek Duke, “By coming together, we were able to pool our resources and make our communication with our widows more effective.” Between invitations to Valentine’s Day dinners, regular check-ins, and lending the occasional helping hand with bills or other concerns, the men of Oxnard and Anacapa have found that in terms of keeping in touch with fraternal family, two sets of hands are better than one. Their collaborative work has continued during the pandemic as well: The lodges teamed up to distribute more than 500 meals to local first responders in their community, including to paramedics at five different hospitals in their area.
Building a robust relief program has meant a commitment to consistency, from hosting meetings for the Lodge Outreach Services team each year to making sure to send representatives to MOS divisional meetings. “The regional meetings are really beneficial to us as a lodge,” says Ronaldo Sotomango, master of Anacapa No. 710. “We get a chance to brainstorm with other lodges about creative ways to serve our members.”
But it’s also meant building smaller efforts into their lodges’ DNA: activities like arranging rides to meetings for elderly members and bringing widows to lodge dinners. Taken all together, the lodges have been able to build a strong regional network of members, widows, and Masonic service providers. “It isn’t hard,” Sotomango says. “You just have to make service central to what you do as a lodge.”
2019-2020 Hiram Award Recipients
The Hiram Award reflects the esteem, respect and admiration of a Mason’s peers. It is given to recognize their extraordinary devotion to the community. Congratulations to each and every recipient this year!
View the Hiram Award list here.