From the Personal Representative

posted Jan 3, 2020, 2:07 PM by San Jose Scottish Rite   [ updated Jan 3, 2020, 2:14 PM ]

Happy New Years to all and welcome to 2020!

     Well, another year has ended, a new corps of officers is about to be installed, and it is time to look ahead to another wonderful year in the Valley of San Jose.

     There were many highlights this past year and we ended strong. This past year, we were able to honor and give recognition to some of our members for their outstanding support of our valley. Brothers. Jack Harris and Randy Downey were coroneted a 33 Degree Inspector General Honorary and Brothers Toone, Duenas, Harbick and Rosenberg were elevated to the rank of Knight Commander Court of Honor. It was my honor to nominate them and they honor our Valley. Congrats to all.

     We also saw the addition of 18 new members through two Reunions. Last Spring, we had a class of 7 (named the Leo B. Mark Class in his honor) who witnessed the 4th through the 18th degrees. And then, in November, those same 7 came back to witness the rest of the degrees along with 11 other new candidates (named the Royce Ford Class in his honor). The degrees were conferred in an exemplary manner and Ill Dan Doornbos once again, communicated those degrees which were not actually conferred. Thanks, Dan. We are pleased to have these 18 new members onboard, and we are even happier to have been able to honor two outstanding men who have contributed so much to our Valley.

      Administratively and personally, I want to recognize the two individuals who worked tirelessly to ensure our Valley runs smooth. Bro. Gregg Hall, our General Secretary has done an outstanding job in modernizing the office (and although we are a fraternity), has brought a business background to the office that has made us more efficient as well as more cost effective. And Angela Athans, our angel without wings, continues to bring a brightness to our Valley and a sense of fraternal pride to the outside community. Her efforts in ensuring all individuals or groups that rent our facility, fully understand just what Scottish Rite Masonry brings to a community. Her personal touch and warmth earn her many accolades from all who deal with her. I personally, and we as a Valley could not get along without these two members of our family.

      Financially, we had another outstanding year. Both our Bodies and Foundation budgets ended in the black. For our Foundation, we saw a higher than budgeted rental income of nearly $100K. It makes the day to day operations flow smoothly when we have the proper funds to operate. Our new budgets for 2020 have been created and I feel comfortable in our plan. I am anxious to see what we can accomplish next.      

       As I stated earlier, our Installation is just around the corner. We made a decision after our last year’s Installation, to move the date of the Installation from the last Tuesday of the month, up to our regular Stated Meeting night on the 2nd Tuesday (this year, Tuesday, Jan. 14th) and I congratulate all the officers who will be installed. Please attend and help support those who have taken on a leadership role in the Valley. It is our annual celebration of the new corps of officers and the time to celebrate the New Year. I want to also thank our outgoing Masters, who did a marvelous job in 2019. Many thanks go to Brothers Randy Downey, Karem Kapkin, Naresh Ramparshad and Richard Rosenberg as well as our Chief Knight, Jeff Toone. All of your efforts were greatly appreciated and our successes are your successes.

       For 2020, many of our programs and events will continue. As we did this past year, we will again hold our Annual Grand Master recognition “Festive Board” where we will honor our Grand Master, MW John Trauner, and his Lady Dana. This is always a great event and we look forward to this year’s celebration. Other events to look forward to, are our two “Nights of Instruction” banquets chaired by Bro. Chuck Cowden. Bro. Chuck will also chair our Military Recognition Night, which has become an annual and very enjoyable event. Bro. Richard Fisher is again chairing our Scholarship Committee, as we will honor another graduating senior on their way to college. We will continue some traditional events like our Maundy Thursday Celebration, Sweethearts Night, as well as 25 - year and 50 - year membership celebrations. We will again attend the Highland Games in Pleasanton. What an exciting day! But besides our traditional events, we are looking for many new ideas to come from you as well.  

        Our Foundation is still very strong, but we can always use a new contribution here or there to continue our work. Unfortunately, in our clinic, we lost two of our clinicians, but Rachel continues to do amazing things with our kids, and I am very proud of what is being accomplished by her. She is working feverishly to find additional competent individuals to hire that can fill our open positions. Thanks, Rachel for your dedication. For the past couple of years, we have also made sizable contributions to the Grand Master’s project, Raising a Reader, Masons 4 Mitts, recognition of our DeMolay leadership at their Annual Conclave, and our Scholarship program. We were also pleased to be able to make our final installment contribution to the Supreme Council’s House of the Temple, refurbishment project. In total, over the last six years, we were able to contribute the $150,000 we pledged to the project.

    I said just a few lines earlier that we can always use a few more contributions to aid us doing the good work we wish to accomplish. This past year, we set a 3 year “Building Fund Campaign” in motion to raise funds ($250,000) to help us modernize the building which would in turn allow us to raise more funds through our rental program. Although we can currently handle up to about 65 kids a year in our language clinic, we still unfortunately have more than 100 kids on the waiting list. The list is so long, that realistically, many of them will never get the treatment they deserve. We would like to do more, but we need more funds to make it happen. I asked each of you to step up and be a part of this campaign. I am pleased to report that to date, from approx. 50 of our members and one sizable bequest, we have raised nearly $200,000 towards our goal. But I am a little disappointed that we have not been able to convince more of you how important our work is. Although 50 some of our members have stepped up, that is only 8% of our membership. There are many more of you that we have not heard from, and I hope that you will come onboard and help us reach our goal. There are 6 different levels of giving to choose from (we ask only, “Each to his own ability).

      With this past year’s contributions many facets of the building have been upgraded. First, we completely refurbished the downstairs event room which can handle an event of about 150 people and which we can now rent for almost triple what we could charge prior to its facelift. Secondly, we created a professional style Conference Room which can handle up to 40 – 45 individuals and which we plan to market to local businesses (new dollars we haven’t seen in the past). Next, we created a new “Member Center”, which by itself won’t garner funds, but one which we hope will be used by our members to better enjoy what Scottish Rite Masonry has to offer. And within the last few weeks, we floor throughout the building, disposing of the carpet and installing a more useful vinyl floor. It has made the building seem brighter, more open and much cleaner. This new floor, along with all new drapes throughout the building (our next project) will allow us to raise our rental rates to what the outside market rates indicate we should and can charge. Come see the new building.

       So please consider giving a hand. Your generosity will help many children who desperately need our assistance. It is easy to do and feels good making a difference.

First, choose a level of giving that is comfortable for you and your family.

Second, you will be asked to make a pledge of a dollar amount within that level of giving.

Third, you will have the choice to make either a one-time donation or choose to make recurring contributions over the next 1 or 2 years (you can divide the payments up for ease of your own budgets).

And finally, you can choose to pay by check or to pay by credit card as you so choose.

 

      As in past years, I want to close this article with some thoughts on how we can best serve you. We only know we are doing ok, if we hear from you. Please give me your thoughts about where you see our Valley is heading, or what you would like to see done, regarding our Valley? What would excite you to return to an active role? Our Valley is here to support you, but I need to know your thoughts and desires. Please contact me when you think we are failing, but most importantly communicate. You are a valued member and we value your input. Please make sure you stop by the office and thank Gregg and Angela for all their efforts. They are invaluable to me, and they make my job very easy. I want to also thank Ill Bud Ramsey for assisting me as our Assistant to the PR. His support is also invaluable. 

       I look forward to seeing each of you over this coming year. Come on out and help make a difference! Happy New Year to all!

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