Childhood Learning Centers
Another Masonic Philanthropy
Jess W. Gern, 33ø
S.G.I.G. in Colorado and Grand Almoner of
The Supreme Council, 33ø, Southern Jurisdiction
1370 Grant Street, Denver, Colorado 80203-2397
J. Philip Berquist, 33ø
Deputy for Massachusetts,
Northern Masonic Jurisdiction
21 Studio Road,
Auburndale, Massachusetts 02166-2808
The Masonic Service Association is pleased to
bring this significant new Scottish Rite philanthropic initiative to the attention of the Masonic
and general public via this "Short Talk
Bulletin. " Congratulations to the Scottish Rites,
Southern and Northern Masonic Jurisdictions,
for those sterling and expanding examples of
Masonic charity in action!
Philanthropy is an essential part of
Freemasonry. In helping others, each Mason
puts our Craft's key principles of brotherhood
and service into action. Every Blue Lodge has
an Almoner's fund to help the needy, and every
Appendant Body of Freemasonry provides
charitable outreach, often focusing it on a spe-
The Knights Templar serve children with
Job's Daughters supplies aids for the hard
Tall Cedars of Lebanon supports muscular
dystrophy research and treatment.
The Grottoes of North America offers dental
services to the handicapped.
The Masonic Service Association organizes
disaster relief and hospital visitation programs.
The Prince Hall Masonic Youth Fund provides camps for urban youths.
The Shrine finances 22 specialized hospitals
for burns victims and crippled children.
These are only a few of the hundreds of
Masonic philanthropies serving the young,
elderly, handicapped, and needy throughout
America. As recently as September 1994, a new
era began in Masonic service to the nation when
Ill. Robert O. Ralston, 33ø, Sovereign Grand
Commander of the Northern Masonic
Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite, U.S.A.,
announced the addition of a fourth charity to that
Jurisdiction's existing philanthropic efforts.
Now, in addition to providing for schizophrenia
research, youth scholarships, and the Masonic
Museum of Our National Heritage at Lexington,
Massachusetts, the Brethren of the Northern
Masonic Jurisdiction will dedicate themselves to
creating Childhood Learning Centers in cities
throughout the 15 states of the Northern
Masonic Jurisdiction of the United States.
This major step forward for Masonic philanthropy follows the path blazed by the Southem
Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry
as early as the 1950s. It all began with the need
of one child in Denver, Colorado. The young
widow of a Brother had two small children. The
youngest had a problem with his speech. At
school, neither his teachers nor his peers could
understand him. Local community services
were not available at that time. Language and
learning disorders in children were just begin-
ning to be understood.
The widow appealed to the Brethren of
Denver's Scottish Rite Bodies. Judge Haslett P.
Burke, 33ø, then Sovereign Grand Inspector
General in Colorado and Lieutenant Grand
Commander of The Supreme Council, 33ø,
Southern Jurisdiction, called the Brethren of
Denver's Consistories together. Unanimously,
it was decided to raise Scottish Rite dues by
$2.00 annually and to dedicate that money to
the local Children's Hospital in support of the
study and treatment of aphasia.
Today we know communications disorders,
like aphasia where the child cannot connect verbal and written words with actions or objects,
atfect one out of every ten children in America.
Among other forms of childhood language and
learning disorders are dyslexia, stuttering,
delayed learning, attention deficit, hearing loss,
and many more. Often the cause is unknown.
Always it is treatable.
Affected children are usually of normal or
even superior intelligence. Yet they cannot
communicate at the level of their peer group.
Remedies may be, on occasion, hearing devices
or surgical procedures. More often, however,
remediation, even total elimination of the problem, can be managed by the child receiving
therapy individually or in small groups from a
certified Speech Language Pathologist.
In sessions that appear more like fun than
lessons, a child can learn to speak and understand. The earlier the intervention, the more
effective the treatment. Left untreated, a child
with learning and communication problems
becomes withdrawn and unhappy. He or she
slips behind academically. Disturbed by the
inability to communicate adequately, the child
becomes frustrated and, often, disruptive. Left
untreated, these conditions can permanently
damage a child' s development and severely
diminish chances for a fulfilling life as a productive adult.
Often local school systems and social services
are strapped for funds and cannot provide the
treatment necessary. This fact was evident in
the first case accepted for Masonic assistance in
Colorado in the 1950s, and it remains so today.
To meet this need, the Brethren of the Scottish
Rite of Freemasonry, Southern Jurisdiction,
established and gradually expanded a
Childhood Language Disorders Program which
now serves thousands of children in clinics,
centers, and programs throughout 35 states and
the District of Columbia.
In our nation's capital, for instance, there is a
state-of-the-art center adjacent to the Scottish
Rite Temple. Dedicated by Mrs. George Bush
on June 23, 1989, the $3 million dollar tacility
is only one of the 110 clinics, centers, or programs throughout the Southern Jurisdiction as
of late 1994. And, responsive to local needs and
support, the program continues to grow and
evolve. Aside trom direct therapy for children
and training for their parents, there are such
diverse programs as volunteer-directed videotapes to remedy dyslexia, Computer Assisted
Language Therapy (CALT) where the child
uses interactive media for self-teaching, and
mobile diagnostic clinics which visit schools
for on-site evaluations and referrals.
The Southern Jurisdiction's flagship philanthropy inspired the Northern Masonic
Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite to follow suit.
Already, two Children's Learning Centers are
in place in Newtonville and Lowell,
Massachusetts. In addition, a summer program
of a similar nature is sponsored by the Brethren
of the Scottish Rite Valley of Marquette,
Michigan, at Northern Michigan University.
These are the first three links in what is
intended to become a chain of Scottish Rite
Children's Learning Centers throughout the
Northem Jurisdiction. As complements to the
already existing network of clinics, centers, or
programs in the Southern Jurisdiction, this new
Scottish Rite philanthropic endeavor will bring
needed services to children who might overwise
go untreated wherever they may be throughout
America, including Alaska and Hawaii.
Brother J. Philip Berquist, 33ø, is the founder
of the first two centers in the Northern Masonic
Jurisdiction. He will lead the new program with
the assistance of 111. Drew W. Washabau, 33ø,
111. James W. Salmons, 33ø; and the overall
guidance of Sovereign Grand Commander
Ralston. Similarly, in the Southern Jurisdiction,
Sovereign Grand Commander Kleinknecht will
continue to provide leadership for that
Jurisdiction's rapidly expanding program,
while Brothers Thomas M. Boles, 33ø, Director
of Development, and J. Howard Rodman, Jr.,
32ø, Assistant Director of Development, provide general guidance for tundraising.
The programs of both Jurisdictions are deeply
rooted in the needs of local communities and
the local Valley' s response to those needs.
Thus, while provided with jurisdictional seed
money for new centers, continuing financial
assistance for existing facilities or programs
and an effective public relations effort by the
Supreme Councils of both Jurisdictions, all
local clinics, centers, or programs are strongly
dependent on grassroots support by the
For more intormation, call or write W. Gene
Sizemore, 33ø, G.C., at The Supreme Council,
33ø, S.J., 1733 Sixteenth St., NW, Washington, DC 20009-3199 Tel. 1-2()2-232-3579 Fax
1-202-387-1843; or J. Philip Berquist, 33ø,
N.M.J., at the Masonic Temple, 458
Newtonville Avenue, Newtonville, MA 02160-
1925 Tel. 1-617-965-3960 Fax 1-617-965-6415.