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.

PMYF Hosts Masonic Youth Group Unity Weekend

2014 Masonic Unity Weekend

The PA Masonic Youth Foundation directly supports three Masonic Youth Groups – Pennsylvania DeMolay, the Order of the Rainbow for Girl’s in Pennsylvania, and the Order of Job’s Daughters in Pennsylvania. It also provides programs and assistance to the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania and Deborah Grand Chapter, Order of the Eastern Star, PHA, with their Masonic Youth Groups – the Knights of Pythagoras and the Ruth Mitchell Tucker Girls Youth Department. These five Masonic Youth Groups get together several times throughout the year to share ideas, discuss projects, and plan activities together.

On the weekend of April 25 – 27, 2014, the PMYF hosted the five Masonic Youth Groups at Patton Campus, in Elizabethtown, PA, for a Masonic Youth Unity weekend. The event, planned by the Youth Leaders of the groups involved, covered important topics such as membership, understanding each organization, and planning joint events. Fun activities were also included, like a talent show and board games. While the young people worked through their program, the adult leaders of the groups also met to discuss best practices and the latest challenges that come with working with youth.

The weekend was very productive and well received by all. Thank you the Masonic Family in Pennsylvania for providing such an excellent opportunity for youth from across the Commonwealth to share ideas.

Special thanks to Mr. Danny Bryant, an adult leader with the Knights of Pythagoras, for taking photos for the weekend and providing them to PMYF for use.