Surviving a Pandemic: PMYF Edition

Since March 12, the world has been a little hectic for everyone. The Covid-19 Pandemic has caused a world-wide shutdown that has given a new definition to the term “social distancing.” Masks are being worn in public, people are working from home, and our youth are forced to do their schoolwork remotely. Those who have traveled have been instructed to quarantine themselves at home to keep everyone around them safe. This is a challenging time, but PMYF and our youth programs have been doing everything to remain calm and remain active.

As you will see in the articles to come in this issue, our youth organizations are doing everything they can to stay positive and keep activities happening. Sure, that means that a lot of our programs that would have been held in person, have to be moved to social platforms, such as Zoom, FaceTime, or Facebook Messenger, but the important thing is that they are still happening. This includes some of the statewide conventions that our youth groups would have held during the summer.

One activity that PMYF put together to help put ease to our youth members and adult leaders was the PMYF Spring Challenge. This challenge started in early April and ran for thirty days at the start of the challenge (participants could start at any time). The challenges included posting a picture of their favorite Masonic Youth memory, a picture with their family, trying something new, finding a new way to exercise, and explaining what leadership is to them. It was a successful challenge that brought a lot of attention to the social media pages while showing that we are still in this together. The winner of the challenge will win an Amazon Gift Card, and I am happy to announce that Kenton Green of Elizabethtown DeMolay is the winner. Kenton accepted the challenge and completed each day of the 30-day challenge. Congratulations Kenton!

Food for Friends 2020

When a worldwide crisis takes place, it is our responsibility to look out for the people around us. The pandemic has closed schools for the end of the school year, put parents and other adults out of work, and left a lot of uncertainty in the lives of many. Some of this is focused on the ability to feed their families while trying to survive financially.

One of the Pennsylvania Masonic Youth Foundation’s recent programs is the Food for Friends 2020 initiative. Some of our youth relied on the school to provide at least two meals a day, while other families have been struggling to provide meals because of being laid off from work. Thanks to the help of WGC Catering, we have been able to provide meals for families who may need extra support during this challenging time. DeMolay Chapters, Rainbow Assemblies, or Job’s Daughters Bethels were able to nominate families connected to their Masonic Family that need food and assistance.

Our program started in the Central PA section, with deliveries being made to qualifying families in Elizabethtown, Harrisburg, Dauphin, and York counties. The program then expanded to areas including Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Erie, and many others, in which packages were shipped to families in need. Taking care of each other is an important message during this time, and PMYF has been doing what we can to help support some of our family. A new phase to this program, which we are calling phase four, will be available soon. Stay tuned, as we continue to help people in need.

Virtual All-Call

This picture is from the “Science All Around Us” Class that took place during All-Call Weekend

This article was written by Stephanie Barth, Grand Faith for Pennsylvania Rainbow. 

In a time of isolation, the Masonic youth continues to come together while practicing social distancing. On Saturday, April 18th, Pennsylvania Rainbow held our annual All-Call Weekend. Typically, this would be held at Patton Campus, but due to the pandemic, we held it over zoom calls throughout the day. This is the girls’ favorite weekend due to the wide variety of sessions planned by the Grand Officers that allow everyone to participate in fun activities with their sisters. Therefore, rather than canceling, some dedicated rainbow advisors worked together to make this weekend possible.

The sessions started at 9 A.M. with a session explaining how the day would go. We then went into sessions, where girls could pick one out of four sessions for each of the four time slots. Sessions planned by the Grand Officers included trivia, charades, crafts, coloring, meditation, and dance classes. We then had our worship service given by our Grand Chaplain. After this, Grand Officers and Grand Representatives split up into different meetings to catch up with one another and continue some of the work that we would have done if we were together in person. As Saturday always ends at a Rainbow Patton Weekend, the girls and advisors then had the choice between joining a Netflix party to watch “Bolt” with your Rainbow Family or have a “Dining Room Hangout” where everyone could meet and hang out. Overall, the day was a great success, and the girls all had fun catching up and interacting with their Rainbow Sisters.

DeMolay: Minecraft Connected

Staying connected is an important part of DeMolay and something that has been put to challenge during the time of social distancing. It forces the members to think outside the box and come up with new ways to stay in contact with each other. Although holding a meeting is great, sometimes our youth needs events in which they can have fun with their friends. One way that teenagers know how to do that is through the use of video games. Some of the DeMolay Chapters have created gaming servers to work together and stay in touch.

A few of the Chapters, including Westmoreland and Allentown, have created Minecraft servers. Minecraft is a video game that allows you to create lands and explore the creations of others. It explores a person’s creativity by giving them the chance to create worlds and build things. Both Chapters started the game with the members from their respective Chapter, and have expanded by inviting others to play along. Another event that took place was a movie night, put together by Caleb from Westmoreland Chapter. He invited members throughout PA DeMolay to join in through Discord while they played the most recent Star Wars film. Although a challenge, staying connected is something that the members of DeMolay have done very well.

Autumn Day and Community Day

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Every fall, community members, Masonic Leaders and family members gather together to spend time at the Masonic Villages to learn about what they have to offer, and to promote their programs. Food and entertainment are provided to ensure that everyone enjoys their visit.

On September 17th, at the Masonic Village in Sewickley, PA, the Community Day Festival will be held. This gathering helps introduce the Masonic Family to the Pittsburgh community. Entertainment, food, crafts and more will available for a small fee. Members of the Masonic Youth Groups will be present to introduce their programming.

The following week, on September 24th, the Masonic Village in Elizabethtown hosts a similar event called Autumn Day. Members from Masonic Organizations and Youth Groups gather to promote their programs as well. Tables are set up for promotional purposes. Food and entertainment will be provided by the hardworking staff at the Masonic Village. A blood drive will be held for anyone that would like to donate. Food that will be available includes hot dogs, sausage, bean soup, french fries, ice cream, popcorn, cotton candy and much more. Masonic Youth Group members will also be afforded the opportunity to spend time with the residents of the Health Care Center to support the programs happening at Autumn Day.

Both festivals are great opportunities to socialize within the Masonic Community and learn about programs you may not have known about. Everyone is invited to join in, so make sure you’re there.

Masonic Youth Groups in the News

Clippings
Clipping Service shares newspaper stories about Masonic youth groups.

The Masonic Villages Public Relations Department uses a “news clipping service” to track newspaper articles about a variety of Masonic subjects across the Commonwealth, and they feed the Masonic Youth Group articles to us.  Displayed in the picture are just a few of the articles that have recently been seen in Pennsylvania newspapers.  The sources of these range from small-town local weekly papers to larger dailies, and a few of the merchant/shopper publications.  They reach thousands of people, and often just a photo and a 3 line caption is enough to get a message across.  These articles WILL get published almost every time they are submitted IF they are:
1) of general interest to the public
2) brief, or at least, concisely written
3) constructed with proper grammar and punctuation, and
4) timely.

Media editors seem to prefer announcements of upcoming events.  Old news, unless it happened in the previous week, is just not timely, and is seldom published. Photos of 2 or 3 people are preferred to large group photos, because when printed, they want the faces to be recognizable.  Stage a photo to illustrate an upcoming event.  A high resolution photo of  3 or 4 young people standing around a pot on a stove, holding the ingredients to the spaghetti dinner, for example, is fun, and tells the story visually.  All that is left is to state the date, time, place and cost.  Action shots, if clear, are preferrable to “grip and grin” presentations and line-ups of people posing for a group shot.  For example, instead of trying to show the entire corps of officers lined up on the steps in the Lodge room, stage a photo of the presiding officer receiving the gavel of authority, or reading his/her inaugural address, or (if permitted by the organization) taking the obligation at the altar, or being invested with the jewel of office.

Yes, it takes a small effort to get an article in the local newspapers.  Some advanced planning will make your articles better, and gives them a better chance of getting used.  It doesn’t hurt to have a regular contact at the paper.  If you submit something, see how it was edited or changed to meet the editor’s needs.  If something doesn’t get used, call and ask for advice on how to provide materials that are better suited for the paper’s purpose.  They will be glad to help you help them. You can normally submit everything electronically (often preferred by the editors) and once you understand their schedule, you can become very good at providing the editors what they want and need for their local audience.

The clipping service doesn’t catch everything that gets published, and we aren’t permitted to reproduce what they share with us, but if you clip an article and send it to us, or scan it and email it, we will share it, giving proper credit to the publisher, of course, so we can all see what kind of news is deemed worthy of publication.

 

Welcome to PMYF!

LSKILLS

The Pennsylvania Masonic Youth Foundation is a charitable arm of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Pennsylvania. Its goal is to provide programs and resources for the young people of the Commonwealth through leadership, education, and mentoring.

Founded in 1982, PMYF continues to support our children into the new millennium.  Please take a moment to get to know us and the programs we sponsor. We’re sure that there are activities that any child can benefit from!

Leaving Your Mark in the New Year

133 Mark Penny tailsOne of the things that our Masonic forefathers were known for was the ability to leave their mark. Whether this was the stonemason in the quarry placing his rudimentary signature on a hewn block, or the philosophical Mason giving his signature to warrant a new Lodge, they all had a desire to do something that would be recognized in the world long after their time on this earth has gone. Operative builders erect monuments; speculative Masons create legacies.

We all have this inherent desire to leave a legacy for future generations. For many, it is simply a family legacy of children and grandchildren, to perpetuate the family name. For others, it is a legacy of action and service to others. Sometimes it manifests as wanting to make “your year” as Master one that the Lodge won’t soon forget. It could be shown through a program that your Lodge takes up and continues to support for years to come due to your involvement. Even financial “legacies,” such as gifts to the Masonic charities or endowments to your Lodge can leave their mark on history. Yet, each of us is overlooking one of the easiest legacies we can leave – that of being there for a member of our Masonic Youth Groups.

There isn’t one senior or majority member of a Masonic Youth Group in Pennsylvania who doesn’t have fond memories of the adults who were involved with the organization. From Rainbow Girls who were guided by Mother Advisors, to Jobies who depended on their Bethel Guardians, or DeMolays who learned important life lessons from their Chapter Advisors; the adult volunteers of our Masonic Youth Groups are leaving a legacy bigger than they could ever imagine – that of memories and positive experiences, moral training in Masonic principles, and guidance in the exercise of leadership skills.

Make your New Year’s resolution one that counts – assisting a Masonic Youth Group in 2015.