The Ohio Masonic Home Resource Center is honored to be able to support the widows and widowers within the fraternity with our Bereavement Program. Support for our widows and widowers goes far beyond mailing the initial packet of information. Here are some success stories showing just how important those connections are:
- In Southwest Ohio, we had a widow of a Mason call who needed help getting her groceries because she can’t wear a mask. She told our community outreach coordinator that the grocery store that she used was one town over from hers. We were able to call the local lodge secretary and ask if they could have someone go grocery shopping for her. They were able to do so and we followed up with her and she was so appreciative of the help!
- In Southern Ohio, we received a call from a Masonic Volunteer. A brother had passed away that morning and the widow had no family or close friends nearby as they had recently relocated out of state for an employment opportunity. The widow had no idea how to choose a funeral home and was worried that she had no funds to pay for these services. We reassured the volunteer that the Resource Center would reach out to coordinate with the widow the services that were needed. By contacting the local Scottish Rite office, our Community Outreach Coordinator linked the widow with a local funeral home with Masonic ties. This funeral director was agreeable to providing services without a down payment, knowing that the Resource Center would be working to obtain financial assistance to help cover the costs. The widow met with the funeral director that day and made the final arrangements. When talking with the widow, our Coordinator found out that she had been unable to work for the past several weeks, having to take time off without pay, due to her husband’s dire medical condition. She was not going to be able to pay her monthly bills that were due the following week. She also had limited food supply in the cupboards and refrigerator. Once back to work, she felt she would be self-sufficient once again but she needed help in the meantime. We were able to suggest to the lodge that a Grand Lodge Charitable Request would be a viable option to pursue after the lodge and district association both contributed as well. Within a week, we were able to provide assistance with the funeral home costs through the Grand Lodge Charitable Foundation and donations from the local lodge and district association. The Resource Center Emergency Assistance Program provided a Kroger card to help with food and gas and also provided payment for utilities and the monthly car payment. The mortgage company provided a waiver for the monthly house payment with no penalty. The widow is back to work now and is able to pick up the pieces and make the payments for next month. She is so very appreciative that the fraternity and Resource Center were there for her during this difficult time.
- In December, we had spoken with the wife of a Mason who was receiving Hospice Services, and had offered our support and asked that she reach out if there was anything that she might need. However, we did not heard back from her after that initial call. We followed-up again in February, checking back in with the wife, who was now widowed. During the conversation, she explained that she was barely getting by as she only had her income from Social Security Disability coming in. The death certificate had not been received so she was unable to move forward with the process of applying for benefits through Social Security or for the life insurance. Once this certificate was received, she would be able to apply for Social Security benefits through the husband’s work history which would be greater than what she receives through Disability. She would also be able to receive the small life insurance policy to pay the funeral home once she was able to submit the death certificate. In the meantime however, she had limited access to groceries and limited gas to get to her scheduled doctor appointments. She also had an upcoming electric bill that she was unsure how she was going to pay. The Resource Center was able to provide a Walmart card through our Emergency Assistance Program and also take care of the February electric bill. She was able to buy food, household necessities and gas with the card. She has since received the death certificate and has completed her phone appointment with Social Security. She will be receiving the higher amount from her husband’s Social Security and feels she will be able to manage financially at this time. Once the weather breaks, we will be reaching out to our volunteers from the district and also her husband’s home lodge to see about getting some minor maintenance completed that her husband had planned to do prior to his death. The widow and the lodge are appreciative that the Resource Center was able to assess her needs and make sure she had emotional and financial support available to her. The lodge also has a designated point person who will be making sure she doesn’t fall between the cracks moving forward.
- A dear friend of the Resource Center and active Masonic Volunteer passed away in the Fall. A bereavement packet had been sent to the widow after the coordinator for the MVP program, DeAnna Kinney, and the coordinator assigned to the district in which he was active, Melissa Hirn-Pulliam, attended the Masonic funeral and calling hours. A few quick phone calls were made to the widow to check in following the service. A Christmas card was sent to let her know she was in our thoughts. Although the widow was very familiar with the support and services available through the Resource Center, she was not yet ready to reach out or engage. However, a couple of weeks ago, DeAnna received a message from this widow stating she thought it was time to get involved in some grief counseling. We followed up with her and connected her with the grief program offered through the Hospice program that cared for her husband. She was also agreeable to weekly phone calls from us as well, just to check in. When we touched base this week, she had had her first session with the grief counselor and was sounding much more positive and relaxed. She also reported that one of the members of her husband’s lodge had helped get the snow blower working and she was able to take care of her own driveway for the first time. We will continue to provide the weekly phone calls as long as needed.