In the email release sent to all 469 Illinois lodges, the Grand lodge indicated that the Board of Directors of the Illinois Masonic Children’s Home voted to close the homes and transition away from residential care. Citing liability concerns and significant increases in the cost of liability insurance, exposure to lawsuits, and the costs of spending $2.4 million per year on the 40 residents of the home, were given as primary reasons the decision had been made.
On social media there were a number of brethren who both agreed with the decision and others who expressed concern over the closure.
Masonic Children’s Homes, like Masonic Nursing Homes have largely closed across the country. Most of the institutions were started more than 100 years ago before the social safety net that exists as we know it today was created.
So how in the 21st century can the masonic fraternity still support worthy distressed Master Masons, their widows and orphans? How do we define charity in 2016? Do we still as a fraternity have an obligation to the distressed Masters Masons, their widows and orphans?
The answer to these questions can be complicated. Burdensome government regulations, a litigious society and drastic changes in health care have all contributed to the changing models of charitable care.
In Illinois after the sale of the Masonic nursing home, the Grand Lodge established the Illinois Masonic Outreach Services (IMOS). This program provides assistance to Master Masons in a number of ways such as helping with home care, buying hearing aids or providing short term financial assistance. This program reaches far more members than running the nursing home facility did.
While the forms of charity may change over time, Freemasonry continues to meets our obligations by helping others.