April 23rd was a very special weekend in the happenings of your Children’s Home. A new and innovative program kicked-off during a spring weekend at MHCO – one ordained -to send Masons and their families forward, speaking, acting, and working on behalf of the Home and its children. Twelve Master Masons from across North Carolina gathered, many with their spouses, to experience life on the campus of MHCO and to learn specific information regarding the operation, programs, and plans of the Home. With this knowledge, these Ambassadors were commissioned by Grand Master of Masons in North Carolina, MW Brother Bryant Webster, with the goal of carrying the Home’s message to families in need, interested supporters, and all seeking information and interest about MHCO. From the idea of our alumni, seeking to engaging new and more individuals in their Home, as well as involving the Masons of NC in a more personal manner and on a more widespread basis came this innovative and important plan. In seeking to involve more, providing them with the tools for communication, presentations, and constituent development came this first MHCO Ambassador Program in 2016.
On Friday evening April 22nd participants met and began their orientation with a welcome with a tour of campus and dinner in different cottages. Concluding the tours, our first class of Ambassadors and their wives met in the York Rite Chapel, there to share in the final activities of the day that would prepare them for the following sessions. Included was a presentation from current residents of the Home and Class of ’68 Alumnus Dan Rice who shared their experience at MHCO and how important the Home has been in their lives as well as some of the daily struggles associated with life at the Home.
The next day began with a working breakfast and Welcome. Information sessions began with various staff members and MHCO Marketing Chair Phil Johnson sharing information regarding the role of the Ambassador, guidelines and statutes that guide decision making regarding MHCO operations, conducting a Lodge Assessment, giving presentations on MHCO, current Programs and Services (including the referral process), Employment and Volunteering, Finance, the School of Graphic Arts, and Financial Development. The information was intended to provide a well-rounded understanding of the many aspects of operation in order to present and respond to groups as an Ambassador. Orientation continued with each person or couple developing an Action Plan to begin connecting with Lodges in their District, community groups to approach, and ultimately getting the message out in a manner to reach families in need in their respective communities.
The weekend culminated with a Graduation Ceremony officially naming each participant as part of the inaugural Ambassador Class at MHCO. Each received a Certificate, Pin, and a Walking Stick to help represent their purpose of leading others to the benefits, promise, and possibility of the Home. PGM and Board Vice Chairman Dewey Preslar presented the Walking Sticks and informed the class of their origin and purpose as it related to the Ambassador Program. The Walking Sticks were hand crafted by Worshipful Brother David J. Stapleton of Greenville Lodge No. 284 and Dan River Lodge No. 129, who honed each just for this occasion embodying the strength, support, and importance of the work of each Ambassador for this first class.
Commissioned by the Grand Master, each member of the Class signed the first Ambassador Charter, which currently hangs in the York Rite Chapel, there to welcome future classes for the Home. Ambassadors were requested to provide a three year commitment to the program and new classes of twelve more individuals are scheduled for the next orientations in 2017 and 2018. Within three years and with each new class, it is expected that each Masonic District in North Carolina will have their own Ambassador geographically located in their district. The Ambassador will work with Lodges, civic and community organizations and individuals to provide information, make contacts, assess their relationship with the Children’s Home, develop action plans involving MHCO, present to various groups, and help take the message of hope to families in need. For information on the Ambassador Program or to have an Ambassador come to your group, Lodge, or other venue please call The Masonic Home for Children at Oxford, 919-693-5111/888-505-4357.
The Inaugural Class of 2016 consists of:
John and Heather Harrelson District 6
Joe and Barb Fuller District 9
Hubert and Pat Williamson District 13
David and Gwen Nyce District 15
David and Julie Parde District 16
Tommy and Annie Greene District 21
Todd and Alicia Smith District 22
C. Ray Hall District 23
Doug Earnhardt District 28
Chris and Liz Wilhoit District 34
Kenneth Sudderth District 37
Wiley Kessler District 38
The Children’s Home continues to be a great place to be a kid and the impact it has reaches for generations. Thank you all for helping bring this program to Light that is being shared more brightly across the state.