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Isabella Allen, 27 began losing her sight at the tender age of ten. Supported by Guide Dogs Queensland’s mobility and orientation services, and other support services provided through the education system, Isabella managed to navigate her way through childhood and adolescence.

After spending years using a cane for mobility, Guide Dog Tatum came into Isabella’s life when she was 26. A handsome, brown-eyed, golden-haired Labrador trained specially to act as her eyes was matched with Isabella through Guide Dogs Queensland.

“I have always been a confident and bubbly person but walking with a cane in public places meant doing a lot of preparation before any outing,” Isabella said.

“Now Tatum allows me to participate in more spontaneous activities, knowing that he will keep me safe wherever we go. It is like having my eyesight back.

On average the wait to get a Guide Dog is between 18 months and two years and at present, there are 35 people on the waiting list. However, in the coming years, Guide Dogs Queensland is set to see a spike in demand for working Guide Dogs, which will see breeding numbers jump by 70%.

In December 2018, to help the organisation meet the demand for its service, Hand Heart Pocket provided a $230,000 Significant Grant to Guide Dogs Queensland. The funds will go towards the construction of a new on-site veterinary clinic at their Nursery and Training Centre on Brisbane’s northside.

Guide Dogs Queensland Chief Executive Officer Michael Kightley said the grant would make a difference in the long-term, with the savings helping to develop new programs while also strengthening existing ones.

“An on-site vet clinic will cut our expenses by more than half. At present the organisation is spending almost $220,000 on external vet bills each year,” Michael said.

“The cost to breed, raise, train and match a Guide Dog to one of our clients is $50,000. Over the next five years, this grant will allow us to provide 24 additional Guide Dogs.

“Also, the benefit of having an in-house vet clinic will mean that we will be able to provide comprehensive healthcare from the day they are born and through their working life.”

From Isabella’s perspective, this is a fantastic initiative.

“Having the vet clinic on-site at Bald Hills will be good because the vet will be familiar with Guide Dogs and it will be nice to bring them back to where the Guide Dogs were bred and trained. Also, it can be stressful if they (Guide Dog) get really ill, so it will give me peace of mind to bring him back here,” she said.

“Best of all the savings made by Guide Dogs Queensland will mean more people like me, will be able to get the support they need to lead a more independent life, so for that, I say, thank you Hand Heart Pocket.”

Indeed, Masonic Lodges over many years have provided grassroots support to Guide Dogs Queensland. Ipswich’s United Tradesmen’s and Redcliffe First Settlement Lodges have been supporting the work of Guide Dogs Queensland through their annual Dining in the Dark events.  

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said this new partnership was an extension of that support, empowering Guide Dogs Queensland to be sustainable and make a bigger impact for more Queenslanders.

“We are proud to have provided this Significant Grant on behalf of the Freemasons of Queensland, to help make a lasting difference for people with low or no vision across the state,” Gary said.

The on-site veterinary clinic will be officially opened in March 2020.

Photo: Isabella and her Guide Dog Tatum.

Find out more about Hand Heart Pocket’s philosophy

A donation of two new massage tables for Bloomhill Cancer Care will help Sunshine Coast cancer patients to receive ongoing remedial or oncology massages.

The non-profit organisation which supports over 1,200 people living with cancer annually, welcomed the donation that was provided by Landsborough Masonic Lodge and Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland.

Landsborough Masonic Lodge Secretary Walter Charlwood said the Lodge hoped the gift would allow Bloomhill’s therapists to continue providing much-needed respite for patients.

“Remedial or oncology massage can really make a difference to patients’ overall outlook and wellbeing, which is why we wanted to help Bloomhill by replacing their existing massage tables,” Walter said.

Last financial year Bloomhill provided 393 reflexology sessions, 505 massage sessions, 363 acupuncture sessions and 674 lymphoedema management sessions.

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said Bloomhill Cancer Care was a worthy recipient.

“Enhancing the quality of life of people living with cancer aligns with our values, to alleviate suffering and empower people to lead better lives,” Gary said.

“With our help, Landsborough Masonic Lodge’s grassroots charity work has been doubled,” he said.

Find out more about Hand Heart Pocket’s philosophy

Vital equipment to aid in the transportation of rural and remote patients in Far North Queensland has been gifted to the Royal Flying Doctor Service base in Cairns.

A recent $10,400 donation from Murray Masonic Lodge in Cairns and Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland enabled the purchase of two vacuum mats to help stabilise patients suspected of a spinal injury. The funds also covered the cost of new pilot headsets and sound-reducing headsets for the crew onboard.

Murray Masonic Lodge representative Alan Sims said they were pleased to support both patients and crew.

“This is the second donation from our Lodge to the RFDS in Cairns for this calendar year alone – taking the total donated in 2019 to $21,200. It’s really special to be able to help them carry out their vital work,” Alan said.

“When patients suspected of a spinal injury are placed into one of these vacuum mats, they will be securely strapped in, preventing further injury during the transportation process. While the headsets will allow for better communication between the pilot and crew onboard.”

“A few years ago, we also donated a vaccine pump and a fridge for use in their new plane.”

Alan knows all too well the critical role that the RFDS plays in rural and remote communities, with his grandson and son only here today thanks largely to the aeromedical service.

“If it were not for that new plane, I would not have my son today. Also, seventeen years ago an RFDS plane was in use for twenty hours for my grandson, so we’re very grateful for their life-saving work.”

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said, providing a hand up to alleviate suffering and misfortune were central to their values, which aligned with the work of the RFDS.

“We are pleased to have maximised the impact of Murray Masonic Lodge’s charity work through our Grassroots Grants program,” Gary said.

Photo: Carpentaria District Grand Master Henry Condon (first left) and Murray Lodge Worshipful Master Alan Sims (first right) look on as Cairns RFDS base Manager Leanne Lowe and RFDS Dr. Dean Murray demonstrate how the vacuum mat will be used with Carpentaria Deputy District Grand Master Raja Chohan acting as the patient.

Find out more about Hand Heart Pocket’s philosophy

Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland and its employees will help make this Christmas a little easier for disadvantaged people living near Fortitude Valley, with a $500 donation to the local Trinity Centre Pantry.

For more than 30 years the centre has given a helping hand to those in need, providing local families and individuals with food and emergency financial relief.

The donation was raised by Hand Heart Pocket’s employees through casual Friday gold coin donations that the charity then matched dollar-for-dollar. This is the second year in a row that they have donated to the local service.

Trinity Centre Pantry Coordinator Liz Jarvis was grateful to Hand Heart Pocket for their continued support. 

“This could help us to buy close to a month’s worth of food or help to provide financial relief to a number of people in need,” Liz said.

Trinity Centre Pantry is open four days a week to anyone who has fallen on hard times. It welcomes more than 1000 people through its doors every year, offering non-perishable food at no cost and emergency financial assistance.

 “We know Christmas isn’t always a happy time for everyone,” said Hand Heart Pocket Executive Officer Commercial and Company Secretary Robert Qualtrough. 

“It can be a particularly challenging time for many families and individuals who might otherwise go without if not for Trinity Centre Pantry,” he said.

“Relieving suffering and misfortune and helping people get back on their feet, either directly or through others, is part of our organisation’s core values, which is why we’re so proud to support the great work Trinity Centre Pantry is doing to help the local community.”

Photo: Staff at Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland donated $500 to the Trinity Centre Pantry.

Find out more about Hand Heart Pocket’s philosophy

Families and communities in drought-affected Queensland will receive a hand up in the lead up to Christmas, with Freemason Lodges and Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland having made a collective contribution of $110,000. 

With two thirds of the state in drought (as at mid-2019), Freemason Lodges across Queensland wanted to help those in most need, which saw Hand Heart Pocket pledge to match Lodge contributions dollar-for-dollar, from September to early December of this year. 

Hand Heart Pocket CEO Gary Mark said the funds were currently being distributed in the form of Hand Heart Pocket eftpos cards through its charity partners on the ground.

“This year we have partnered with the Murilla Community Centre, Care Goondiwindi, the Rural Financial Counselling Service and the Western Queensland Drought Committee to ensure that the funds get to those that need it most,” Gary said.

“The gift cards will help families to put food on the table and pay essential bills, while keeping the funds in the local community, in support of local businesses.”

“We hope this hand up will provide some relief and spread a little bit of joy to people doing it tough in drought conditions this Christmas,” he said.

This latest contribution to drought-affected communities is in addition to $1.45M provided by the Charity and its members during 2015 to 2018. 

Find out more about Hand Heart Pocket’s philosophy

 

In recent months, the prestigious Order of Service to Benevolence (OSB) jewel has been awarded to a handful of worthy Freemasons across Queensland. Here are the latest recipients.

Graham Townsend of the Mackay District was bestowed with the honour in recognition of his attentiveness to the needs of others. Four years ago, he was part of the chorus of members in Mackay that collectively raised $70,000 after calling for a state-wide Drought Appeal.

In 2018 he helped to rally the Lodges of the District to donate another $70,000 with the help of Hand Heart Pocket. Similarly, he was one of the key people to bring the sponsorship opportunity with the River 2 Reef Charity Ride to Hand Heart Pocket’s attention.

This year the event raised over $100,000 for three worthy local charities, which was a record.

Another OSB jewel was posthumously awarded to the late David Willans of Mackay, with his wife Rachel accepting his award.

She was also given a special Jewel to wear in honour of David’s extensive charitable work and to acknowledge that he was posthumously presented this Order of Service to Benevolence Jewel.

David had been a Freemason for some 37 years before his passing earlier this year.

In addition to being a hospital volunteer, he always went the extra mile to provide a hand up for those facing hardship.

He was not one to take no for an answer and thought outside the box to support local initiatives. With a genuine interest in giving people a hand up, David inspired the Mackay District Freemasons to be compassionate towards those doing it tough. For example, he inspired the donation of 40 swags for those sleeping rough. He also called on Hand Heart Pocket to donate a wheelchair for a young girl with spina bifida.

Hand Heart Pocket wishes to extend its congratulations to all the OSB jewel recipients this year!

Photo: Graham and Coral Townsend, Rachel Willans and Grand Master Paul Holland.

Find out more about Hand Heart Pocket’s philosophy

Men in Miles were recently given a gentle nudge to concentrate on their mental and physical health, thanks to the local Freemasons who hosted the second in a series of state-wide events focussed on all things pertaining to men’s health matters.

Late last month, Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland and the Miles Freemasons, in partnership with community health non-profit CheckUP, ran an information session as part of the 2019 Men’s Health Matters awareness campaign. The state-wide campaign which was launched in September is visiting towns all over Queensland until March next year.

Miles Freemason Ted Gibbons said they were delighted with the turnout and felt that the attendees really took to the content being delivered.

“We had 35 members of the community came along including some from surrounding properties and towns, many with their partners as well, which was great to see. For us men, it’s not always easy to talk about how we feel, so to have helped provide a forum where men can talk and learn about their health was our main motivation,” Mr Gibbons said.

“If these conversations lead to them making positive changes in their lives, then our community as a whole will benefit,” he said.

The free information session was held at the Miles Golf Club beginning with drinks and a barbeque. A healthcare provider then led the discussion covering a range of topics including nutrition and physical activity, early detection of cancer, important check-ups, diabetes and heart disease, mental health and wellbeing, and relationships.

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said empowering people to lead better lives was an important part of the charity’s work in the community.

“Improving men’s mental and physical health both at a state-wide and grassroots level is part of our charitable focus, which is why we’ve partnered with CheckUP to bring this potentially life-saving initiative to communities across Queensland,” Mr Mark said.

CheckUP CEO Ann Maree Liddy said time and time again this format has proved to be an effective way to raise awareness of and engage men about their health and wellbeing.

“Providing a safe environment where attendees can talk about their health is essential if we are to improve outcomes in this area,” Ms Liddy said.

“We are delighted to have formed this partnership with Hand Heart Pocket and Freemason Lodges throughout the state to deliver this campaign,” she said.

Photo: CheckUP South West Regional Coordinator Nigel Daisy, Rural Aid representative Gail Courte, Men’s Health Matters facilitator Sam, Murilla Masonic Lodge members Ben Rees and Ted Gibbons.

Find out more about Hand Heart Pocket’s philosophy

Hand Heart Pocket board member Sandy Blackburn-Wright recently received an award for Outstanding Achievement at the Australian Impact Investment Awards in Sydney.

She was one of four individuals to receive the prestigious award for going above and beyond to make a considerable contribution to the impact investment space. Sandy’s organisation, Social Outcomes, was also named as a finalist at the awards in the category of Market Maker of the Year 2019.

Hand Heart Pocket Chairman Alasdair Begley congratulated Sandy on her award and said the Freemason charity was fortunate to have her expertise and dedication as part of the board.

“Sandy is a very worthy recipient of this award, and I know the Freemasons of Queensland will join me in congratulating her on her latest achievement,” Alasdair said.

Sandy joined the board of Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland in March of this year and was the first female to be appointed as a board director in the organisation’s 110-year history. She has brought with her over 35 years of experience in the philanthropy and non-profit sectors both in Australia and overseas, with her main area of speciality being social enterprise, impact investing and shared value.

Photo: Sandy Blackburn-Wright delivers a speech after accepting an award for Outstanding Achievement at the Australian Impact Investment Awards.

The Leukaemia Foundation’s patient accommodation facilities in Townsville will continue to be a home away from home for blood cancer patients from rural and remote Queensland, following a sizable donation from the Central West Queensland Freemasons.

As Aramac Masonic Lodge, some 550km away closed its doors for the last time in 2019, they had one final wish – to help support outback cancer patients and their families.

So together with Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland, the Lodge recently donated $60,000 towards the Queensland Freemasons Village, which offers accommodation and support for patients and their families while they undergo treatment at Townsville Hospital.

Freemason David Gray, formerly of Aramac Masonic Lodge, said he was delighted to have made the journey up to Townsville to celebrate the donation.

“$60,000 could provide over 750 nights of accommodation, which act as a home-away-from-home for families during blood cancer treatment,” he said.

“People with blood cancer from our own community in Central West Queensland have stayed at the Village, so we know how having a place to stay made an immense difference for them,” he said.

Leukaemia Foundation CEO Bill Petch said last financial year the Leukaemia Foundation provided 5,213 nights of accommodation to 125 families at Freemasons Village – with 72 of these families staying more than once during their blood cancer journey.

“Every day another 41 Australians are diagnosed with a blood cancer, and unfortunately most regional and rural Australians who are diagnosed will have to leave their home, work and local community behind to relocate to a major city for their treatment,” he said.

“Providing this accommodation service in Townsville is the Leukaemia Foundation’s way of giving blood cancer patients living in regional and rural areas a chance to access life-saving treatment with their loved ones by their side, free of charge.

“The Leukaemia Foundation is deeply grateful for this incredibly generous donation which will have a huge and positive impact on Queensland families in their greatest time of need during their blood cancer journey.”

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark was appreciative of Aramac Lodge for bringing this initiative to the organisation’s attention so that together a bigger difference could be made, through their Grassroots Grants program.

“Our focus is to alleviate suffering and to empower people to lead better lives, which is why this initiative appealed to us,” Gary said.

“At a grassroots level, we recognise the importance of ensuring health services remain accessible to regional and remote Queenslanders.” 

Photo: Leukaemia Foundation Queensland Freemasons Village Centre Manager Marie Morris accepted a cheque for $60,000 from Aramac Lodge representative David Gray. David and his wife Jenni (first from right) travelled from Central West Queensland to Townsville to handover the donation. They were joined by representatives of the North Queensland District.  

Find out more about Hand Heart Pocket’s philosophy

 

More young people at risk of not completing school will be empowered to build their own future following the announcement of a $100,000 funding boost for TRACTION, a community-based youth mentoring program in South East Queensland. 

The Significant Grant from Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland will go towards TRACTION’s internal scholarship program to re-engage more young people in an alternative action-based learning environment. A portion of the grant will also help the non-profit to measure its outcomes, build their capacity and better understand, manage and measure the impact they are making. The option for recurrent funding for a period of up to three years will also be considered following a review of the program outcomes each year.  

TRACTION Founder and Program Director Sandy Murdoch said the grant is a welcome contribution towards their efforts to better support young people at risk in South East Queensland.

“We are extremely grateful to Hand Heart Pocket and the Freemasons of Queensland for their continued support of our work in this area,” Sandy said.

“Last year, thanks to a $15,000 capacity-building grant from Hand Heart Pocket we were able to work with a specialist to develop our long-term strategy, business plan and governance program which provided a pathway for us to meet the needs of the community into the future,” he said. 

“This latest funding will mean that 38 additional young people will now be able to access our hands-on programs and we will be able to implement a measurement framework to help us continue to improve outcomes for our program participants.”

Since launching in 2015, over 930 young people aged 12-15 have been helped to turn their lives around. With workshops and delivery points in Alexandra Hills, Moorooka, Inala, Logan and Beaudesert, TRACTION works with schools and other agencies to identify at risk youth to undertake their program. Participants attend one day a week for an entire school term to work on various projects like restoring an old bike with the help of a mentor, as part of the Bicycle Build Program. Many come from disadvantaged backgrounds, may be experiencing trauma or insecure housing, have a disability or have had involvement with the youth justice system.

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said the Freemason charity was proud to extend its support of TRACTION.

“Early intervention programs that improve outcomes for young people at risk to have hope for their own futures, build a support network and to gain an education and skills for the future will soon become a core part of Hand Heart Pocket’s evolving philanthropic focus,” he said.

“We are excited about the difference that this hand-up to TRACTION will make for young people at risk as they realise their full potential and take ownership of their future.”

Photo: A TRACTION participant being mentored as part of the Bicycle Build Program.

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Isabella Allen, 27 began losing her sight at the tender age of ten. Supported by Guide Dogs Queensland’s mobility and orientation services, and other support services provided through the education system, Isabella managed to navigate her way through childhood and adolescence.

After spending years using a cane for mobility, Guide Dog Tatum came into Isabella’s life when she was 26. A handsome, brown-eyed, golden-haired Labrador trained specially to act as her eyes was matched with Isabella through Guide Dogs Queensland.

“I have always been a confident and bubbly person but walking with a cane in public places meant doing a lot of preparation before any outing,” Isabella said.

“Now Tatum allows me to participate in more spontaneous activities, knowing that he will keep me safe wherever we go. It is like having my eyesight back.

On average the wait to get a Guide Dog is between 18 months and two years and at present, there are 35 people on the waiting list. However, in the coming years, Guide Dogs Queensland is set to see a spike in demand for working Guide Dogs, which will see breeding numbers jump by 70%.

In December 2018, to help the organisation meet the demand for its service, Hand Heart Pocket provided a $230,000 Significant Grant to Guide Dogs Queensland. The funds will go towards the construction of a new on-site veterinary clinic at their Nursery and Training Centre on Brisbane’s northside.

Guide Dogs Queensland Chief Executive Officer Michael Kightley said the grant would make a difference in the long-term, with the savings helping to develop new programs while also strengthening existing ones.

“An on-site vet clinic will cut our expenses by more than half. At present the organisation is spending almost $220,000 on external vet bills each year,” Michael said.

“The cost to breed, raise, train and match a Guide Dog to one of our clients is $50,000. Over the next five years, this grant will allow us to provide 24 additional Guide Dogs.

“Also, the benefit of having an in-house vet clinic will mean that we will be able to provide comprehensive healthcare from the day they are born and through their working life.”

From Isabella’s perspective, this is a fantastic initiative.

“Having the vet clinic on-site at Bald Hills will be good because the vet will be familiar with Guide Dogs and it will be nice to bring them back to where the Guide Dogs were bred and trained. Also, it can be stressful if they (Guide Dog) get really ill, so it will give me peace of mind to bring him back here,” she said.

“Best of all the savings made by Guide Dogs Queensland will mean more people like me, will be able to get the support they need to lead a more independent life, so for that, I say, thank you Hand Heart Pocket.”

Indeed, Masonic Lodges over many years have provided grassroots support to Guide Dogs Queensland. Ipswich’s United Tradesmen’s and Redcliffe First Settlement Lodges have been supporting the work of Guide Dogs Queensland through their annual Dining in the Dark events.  

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said this new partnership was an extension of that support, empowering Guide Dogs Queensland to be sustainable and make a bigger impact for more Queenslanders.

“We are proud to have provided this Significant Grant on behalf of the Freemasons of Queensland, to help make a lasting difference for people with low or no vision across the state,” Gary said.

The on-site veterinary clinic will be officially opened in March 2020.

Photo: Isabella and her Guide Dog Tatum.

Find out more about Hand Heart Pocket’s philosophy

A donation of two new massage tables for Bloomhill Cancer Care will help Sunshine Coast cancer patients to receive ongoing remedial or oncology massages.

The non-profit organisation which supports over 1,200 people living with cancer annually, welcomed the donation that was provided by Landsborough Masonic Lodge and Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland.

Landsborough Masonic Lodge Secretary Walter Charlwood said the Lodge hoped the gift would allow Bloomhill’s therapists to continue providing much-needed respite for patients.

“Remedial or oncology massage can really make a difference to patients’ overall outlook and wellbeing, which is why we wanted to help Bloomhill by replacing their existing massage tables,” Walter said.

Last financial year Bloomhill provided 393 reflexology sessions, 505 massage sessions, 363 acupuncture sessions and 674 lymphoedema management sessions.

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said Bloomhill Cancer Care was a worthy recipient.

“Enhancing the quality of life of people living with cancer aligns with our values, to alleviate suffering and empower people to lead better lives,” Gary said.

“With our help, Landsborough Masonic Lodge’s grassroots charity work has been doubled,” he said.

Find out more about Hand Heart Pocket’s philosophy

Vital equipment to aid in the transportation of rural and remote patients in Far North Queensland has been gifted to the Royal Flying Doctor Service base in Cairns.

A recent $10,400 donation from Murray Masonic Lodge in Cairns and Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland enabled the purchase of two vacuum mats to help stabilise patients suspected of a spinal injury. The funds also covered the cost of new pilot headsets and sound-reducing headsets for the crew onboard.

Murray Masonic Lodge representative Alan Sims said they were pleased to support both patients and crew.

“This is the second donation from our Lodge to the RFDS in Cairns for this calendar year alone – taking the total donated in 2019 to $21,200. It’s really special to be able to help them carry out their vital work,” Alan said.

“When patients suspected of a spinal injury are placed into one of these vacuum mats, they will be securely strapped in, preventing further injury during the transportation process. While the headsets will allow for better communication between the pilot and crew onboard.”

“A few years ago, we also donated a vaccine pump and a fridge for use in their new plane.”

Alan knows all too well the critical role that the RFDS plays in rural and remote communities, with his grandson and son only here today thanks largely to the aeromedical service.

“If it were not for that new plane, I would not have my son today. Also, seventeen years ago an RFDS plane was in use for twenty hours for my grandson, so we’re very grateful for their life-saving work.”

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said, providing a hand up to alleviate suffering and misfortune were central to their values, which aligned with the work of the RFDS.

“We are pleased to have maximised the impact of Murray Masonic Lodge’s charity work through our Grassroots Grants program,” Gary said.

Photo: Carpentaria District Grand Master Henry Condon (first left) and Murray Lodge Worshipful Master Alan Sims (first right) look on as Cairns RFDS base Manager Leanne Lowe and RFDS Dr. Dean Murray demonstrate how the vacuum mat will be used with Carpentaria Deputy District Grand Master Raja Chohan acting as the patient.

Find out more about Hand Heart Pocket’s philosophy

Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland and its employees will help make this Christmas a little easier for disadvantaged people living near Fortitude Valley, with a $500 donation to the local Trinity Centre Pantry.

For more than 30 years the centre has given a helping hand to those in need, providing local families and individuals with food and emergency financial relief.

The donation was raised by Hand Heart Pocket’s employees through casual Friday gold coin donations that the charity then matched dollar-for-dollar. This is the second year in a row that they have donated to the local service.

Trinity Centre Pantry Coordinator Liz Jarvis was grateful to Hand Heart Pocket for their continued support. 

“This could help us to buy close to a month’s worth of food or help to provide financial relief to a number of people in need,” Liz said.

Trinity Centre Pantry is open four days a week to anyone who has fallen on hard times. It welcomes more than 1000 people through its doors every year, offering non-perishable food at no cost and emergency financial assistance.

 “We know Christmas isn’t always a happy time for everyone,” said Hand Heart Pocket Executive Officer Commercial and Company Secretary Robert Qualtrough. 

“It can be a particularly challenging time for many families and individuals who might otherwise go without if not for Trinity Centre Pantry,” he said.

“Relieving suffering and misfortune and helping people get back on their feet, either directly or through others, is part of our organisation’s core values, which is why we’re so proud to support the great work Trinity Centre Pantry is doing to help the local community.”

Photo: Staff at Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland donated $500 to the Trinity Centre Pantry.

Find out more about Hand Heart Pocket’s philosophy

Families and communities in drought-affected Queensland will receive a hand up in the lead up to Christmas, with Freemason Lodges and Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland having made a collective contribution of $110,000. 

With two thirds of the state in drought (as at mid-2019), Freemason Lodges across Queensland wanted to help those in most need, which saw Hand Heart Pocket pledge to match Lodge contributions dollar-for-dollar, from September to early December of this year. 

Hand Heart Pocket CEO Gary Mark said the funds were currently being distributed in the form of Hand Heart Pocket eftpos cards through its charity partners on the ground.

“This year we have partnered with the Murilla Community Centre, Care Goondiwindi, the Rural Financial Counselling Service and the Western Queensland Drought Committee to ensure that the funds get to those that need it most,” Gary said.

“The gift cards will help families to put food on the table and pay essential bills, while keeping the funds in the local community, in support of local businesses.”

“We hope this hand up will provide some relief and spread a little bit of joy to people doing it tough in drought conditions this Christmas,” he said.

This latest contribution to drought-affected communities is in addition to $1.45M provided by the Charity and its members during 2015 to 2018. 

Find out more about Hand Heart Pocket’s philosophy

 

In recent months, the prestigious Order of Service to Benevolence (OSB) jewel has been awarded to a handful of worthy Freemasons across Queensland. Here are the latest recipients.

Graham Townsend of the Mackay District was bestowed with the honour in recognition of his attentiveness to the needs of others. Four years ago, he was part of the chorus of members in Mackay that collectively raised $70,000 after calling for a state-wide Drought Appeal.

In 2018 he helped to rally the Lodges of the District to donate another $70,000 with the help of Hand Heart Pocket. Similarly, he was one of the key people to bring the sponsorship opportunity with the River 2 Reef Charity Ride to Hand Heart Pocket’s attention.

This year the event raised over $100,000 for three worthy local charities, which was a record.

Another OSB jewel was posthumously awarded to the late David Willans of Mackay, with his wife Rachel accepting his award.

She was also given a special Jewel to wear in honour of David’s extensive charitable work and to acknowledge that he was posthumously presented this Order of Service to Benevolence Jewel.

David had been a Freemason for some 37 years before his passing earlier this year.

In addition to being a hospital volunteer, he always went the extra mile to provide a hand up for those facing hardship.

He was not one to take no for an answer and thought outside the box to support local initiatives. With a genuine interest in giving people a hand up, David inspired the Mackay District Freemasons to be compassionate towards those doing it tough. For example, he inspired the donation of 40 swags for those sleeping rough. He also called on Hand Heart Pocket to donate a wheelchair for a young girl with spina bifida.

Hand Heart Pocket wishes to extend its congratulations to all the OSB jewel recipients this year!

Photo: Graham and Coral Townsend, Rachel Willans and Grand Master Paul Holland.

Find out more about Hand Heart Pocket’s philosophy

Men in Miles were recently given a gentle nudge to concentrate on their mental and physical health, thanks to the local Freemasons who hosted the second in a series of state-wide events focussed on all things pertaining to men’s health matters.

Late last month, Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland and the Miles Freemasons, in partnership with community health non-profit CheckUP, ran an information session as part of the 2019 Men’s Health Matters awareness campaign. The state-wide campaign which was launched in September is visiting towns all over Queensland until March next year.

Miles Freemason Ted Gibbons said they were delighted with the turnout and felt that the attendees really took to the content being delivered.

“We had 35 members of the community came along including some from surrounding properties and towns, many with their partners as well, which was great to see. For us men, it’s not always easy to talk about how we feel, so to have helped provide a forum where men can talk and learn about their health was our main motivation,” Mr Gibbons said.

“If these conversations lead to them making positive changes in their lives, then our community as a whole will benefit,” he said.

The free information session was held at the Miles Golf Club beginning with drinks and a barbeque. A healthcare provider then led the discussion covering a range of topics including nutrition and physical activity, early detection of cancer, important check-ups, diabetes and heart disease, mental health and wellbeing, and relationships.

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said empowering people to lead better lives was an important part of the charity’s work in the community.

“Improving men’s mental and physical health both at a state-wide and grassroots level is part of our charitable focus, which is why we’ve partnered with CheckUP to bring this potentially life-saving initiative to communities across Queensland,” Mr Mark said.

CheckUP CEO Ann Maree Liddy said time and time again this format has proved to be an effective way to raise awareness of and engage men about their health and wellbeing.

“Providing a safe environment where attendees can talk about their health is essential if we are to improve outcomes in this area,” Ms Liddy said.

“We are delighted to have formed this partnership with Hand Heart Pocket and Freemason Lodges throughout the state to deliver this campaign,” she said.

Photo: CheckUP South West Regional Coordinator Nigel Daisy, Rural Aid representative Gail Courte, Men’s Health Matters facilitator Sam, Murilla Masonic Lodge members Ben Rees and Ted Gibbons.

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Hand Heart Pocket board member Sandy Blackburn-Wright recently received an award for Outstanding Achievement at the Australian Impact Investment Awards in Sydney.

She was one of four individuals to receive the prestigious award for going above and beyond to make a considerable contribution to the impact investment space. Sandy’s organisation, Social Outcomes, was also named as a finalist at the awards in the category of Market Maker of the Year 2019.

Hand Heart Pocket Chairman Alasdair Begley congratulated Sandy on her award and said the Freemason charity was fortunate to have her expertise and dedication as part of the board.

“Sandy is a very worthy recipient of this award, and I know the Freemasons of Queensland will join me in congratulating her on her latest achievement,” Alasdair said.

Sandy joined the board of Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland in March of this year and was the first female to be appointed as a board director in the organisation’s 110-year history. She has brought with her over 35 years of experience in the philanthropy and non-profit sectors both in Australia and overseas, with her main area of speciality being social enterprise, impact investing and shared value.

Photo: Sandy Blackburn-Wright delivers a speech after accepting an award for Outstanding Achievement at the Australian Impact Investment Awards.

The Leukaemia Foundation’s patient accommodation facilities in Townsville will continue to be a home away from home for blood cancer patients from rural and remote Queensland, following a sizable donation from the Central West Queensland Freemasons.

As Aramac Masonic Lodge, some 550km away closed its doors for the last time in 2019, they had one final wish – to help support outback cancer patients and their families.

So together with Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland, the Lodge recently donated $60,000 towards the Queensland Freemasons Village, which offers accommodation and support for patients and their families while they undergo treatment at Townsville Hospital.

Freemason David Gray, formerly of Aramac Masonic Lodge, said he was delighted to have made the journey up to Townsville to celebrate the donation.

“$60,000 could provide over 750 nights of accommodation, which act as a home-away-from-home for families during blood cancer treatment,” he said.

“People with blood cancer from our own community in Central West Queensland have stayed at the Village, so we know how having a place to stay made an immense difference for them,” he said.

Leukaemia Foundation CEO Bill Petch said last financial year the Leukaemia Foundation provided 5,213 nights of accommodation to 125 families at Freemasons Village – with 72 of these families staying more than once during their blood cancer journey.

“Every day another 41 Australians are diagnosed with a blood cancer, and unfortunately most regional and rural Australians who are diagnosed will have to leave their home, work and local community behind to relocate to a major city for their treatment,” he said.

“Providing this accommodation service in Townsville is the Leukaemia Foundation’s way of giving blood cancer patients living in regional and rural areas a chance to access life-saving treatment with their loved ones by their side, free of charge.

“The Leukaemia Foundation is deeply grateful for this incredibly generous donation which will have a huge and positive impact on Queensland families in their greatest time of need during their blood cancer journey.”

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark was appreciative of Aramac Lodge for bringing this initiative to the organisation’s attention so that together a bigger difference could be made, through their Grassroots Grants program.

“Our focus is to alleviate suffering and to empower people to lead better lives, which is why this initiative appealed to us,” Gary said.

“At a grassroots level, we recognise the importance of ensuring health services remain accessible to regional and remote Queenslanders.” 

Photo: Leukaemia Foundation Queensland Freemasons Village Centre Manager Marie Morris accepted a cheque for $60,000 from Aramac Lodge representative David Gray. David and his wife Jenni (first from right) travelled from Central West Queensland to Townsville to handover the donation. They were joined by representatives of the North Queensland District.  

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More young people at risk of not completing school will be empowered to build their own future following the announcement of a $100,000 funding boost for TRACTION, a community-based youth mentoring program in South East Queensland. 

The Significant Grant from Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland will go towards TRACTION’s internal scholarship program to re-engage more young people in an alternative action-based learning environment. A portion of the grant will also help the non-profit to measure its outcomes, build their capacity and better understand, manage and measure the impact they are making. The option for recurrent funding for a period of up to three years will also be considered following a review of the program outcomes each year.  

TRACTION Founder and Program Director Sandy Murdoch said the grant is a welcome contribution towards their efforts to better support young people at risk in South East Queensland.

“We are extremely grateful to Hand Heart Pocket and the Freemasons of Queensland for their continued support of our work in this area,” Sandy said.

“Last year, thanks to a $15,000 capacity-building grant from Hand Heart Pocket we were able to work with a specialist to develop our long-term strategy, business plan and governance program which provided a pathway for us to meet the needs of the community into the future,” he said. 

“This latest funding will mean that 38 additional young people will now be able to access our hands-on programs and we will be able to implement a measurement framework to help us continue to improve outcomes for our program participants.”

Since launching in 2015, over 930 young people aged 12-15 have been helped to turn their lives around. With workshops and delivery points in Alexandra Hills, Moorooka, Inala, Logan and Beaudesert, TRACTION works with schools and other agencies to identify at risk youth to undertake their program. Participants attend one day a week for an entire school term to work on various projects like restoring an old bike with the help of a mentor, as part of the Bicycle Build Program. Many come from disadvantaged backgrounds, may be experiencing trauma or insecure housing, have a disability or have had involvement with the youth justice system.

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said the Freemason charity was proud to extend its support of TRACTION.

“Early intervention programs that improve outcomes for young people at risk to have hope for their own futures, build a support network and to gain an education and skills for the future will soon become a core part of Hand Heart Pocket’s evolving philanthropic focus,” he said.

“We are excited about the difference that this hand-up to TRACTION will make for young people at risk as they realise their full potential and take ownership of their future.”

Photo: A TRACTION participant being mentored as part of the Bicycle Build Program.

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