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The first sod has been turned on a purpose-built accommodation complex which will help more people with disabilities have access to appropriate housing on the Darling Downs.

The single-storey complex, located in Centenary Heights, will include four fully customised units which will meet individual needs, include assistive technology, and help empower residents to lead more independent lives.

One of the three-bedroom units will be owned by YellowBridge QLD thanks to a generous donation from Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland.

YellowBridge received $450,000 from the Masonic charity to construct and manage the unit which will accommodate two people with disabilities and a carer.

YellowBridge QLD Chief Executive Officer Penny Hamilton said it was exciting to finally see construction commence after 12 months of planning and building approvals.

“We are in the midst of a disability housing crisis on the Darling Downs, where people with disabilities, especially those whose ageing parents can no longer look after them, have no-where to go,” Penny said.

“We know of 40 people in this position. While many have the means to buy or rent their own place, there is simply no suitable housing for them in the region,” she said.

“A few will never have the means to pay for a place to live.”

“Having access to appropriate housing is an important part of the equation for improving the overall quality of life of people with disabilities.”

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said the local Freemasons were vocal supporters of YellowBridge QLD, due to its proven record of supporting more than 4,000 people to lead more meaningful and connected lives each year.

“Our purpose is to provide sustainable support that delivers positive outcomes; to provide a hand up to communities, charities and individuals that have limited access to other funding sources,” Mr Mark said.

“Alleviating the stress on ageing parents who care for their disabled children - through the provision of innovative purpose-built housing - aligns with our values of equipping people to lead better lives,” he said.

“We are delighted to partner with YellowBridge QLD on this important initiative and know it will be a catalyst for changing the landscape of disability housing in the region.”

The units are being built by local construction firm, Enabled Living, which specialises in custom-built housing for people with a disability. They are expected to be completed by early 2020.

Photo: Toowoomba Freemasons Ian Parry, Maurice Howell, Bob Holzberger, Roger Turnbull, Barry Hennessy, Harry Butler and Lachlan Evans joined Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark, YellowBridge Chief Executive Officer Penny Hamilton, YellowBridge Chief Financial Officer Adrian Bonica and YellowBridge General Manager Disability Services Jodie Collins for the turning of the first sod. 

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As the sun came up in Mackay on Saturday morning, 1,000 participants lined up along River Street near Paxton’s Markets for the start of the Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland River 2 Reef Charity Ride.

Organisers of the annual event were thrilled to announce that $100,000 had been raised in 2019 – the most that has been raised in the event’s nine-year history – taking the total raised over nine years to well over half a million dollars.

As the new Naming Rights Sponsor of the event, Hand Heart Pocket contributed $25,000 and also agreed to match the first $50,000 raised, dollar-for-dollar. Due to this extra support from Hand Heart Pocket, for the first time in the event’s history, a third local charity will benefit. The Suicide Prevention Community Action Planning Group’s Men’s Campaign based at ‘selectability joined RACQ CQ Rescue and the Mackay and District Sporting Wheelies as  beneficiaries of the event.

Among this year’s ride participants was Hand Heart Pocket’s Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark who joined the Mackay District Freemasons team.

“This was my first time doing the River 2 Reef Charity Ride and while it was cold to begin with, it turned out to be a lovely day,” Gary said.

A broad cross-section of the community participated, including families as well as those well over 70 years of age.

The volunteers and supporters kept the riders going and by mid-morning many of the participants had crossed the finish line, before having some well-earned brunch at the Bluewater Quay. 

Gary said by supporting this regional community event, Hand Heart Pocket was furthering some of their own charitable goals.

“Our work is focused on alleviating suffering and empowering people to lead better lives. Also improving men’s mental and physical health is one of our priorities, hence us having chosen a local suicide prevention awareness campaign as the third beneficiary,” Gary said.

“We thank the local Freemasons for bringing this regional community event to our attention and for their support in the lead up to the event and on the day. We look forward to seeing the impacts that will be made by the benfiting charities,” he said. 

Photo: The Mackay District Freemasons team at the starting line. 

Find out more about Hand Heart Pocket’s philosophy

Men in the Scenic Rim will be empowered to lead better lives, with the local Freemasons set to host the first leg of a statewide awareness campaign focussed on improving men’s mental and physical health.

Coinciding with the Beaudesert Masonic Centre’s upcoming public Open Day on 29th September, Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland and the local Freemasons will run an information session in partnership with CheckUP as part of the 2019 Men’s Health Matters awareness campaign. The community event is the first of up to 15 events to be held across Queensland from September 2019 – March 2020.

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said they are excited for the launch in Beaudesert.

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

The free information session will be delivered by a healthcare provider and will cover a range of topics such as nutrition and physical activity, early detection of cancer, important CheckUPs for men, diabetes and heart disease, mental health and wellbeing and relationships.

CheckUP CEO Ann Maree Liddy said this format is the perfect vehicle to spread awareness about men’s health and wellbeing.

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

 “The importance of mental and physical health can’t be ignored and providing a safe environment for attendees to have a conversation about their mental and physical health is essential,” Ms Liddy said.

Beaudesert Freemason Len Undy is looking forward to welcoming people to the Masonic Centre.

“Being attentive to the needs of the community is part of what it means to be a Freemason. If the Men’s Health Matters information session can motivate one person to make a positive change in their life, then that’s going to have a ripple effect on their family unit and our community in the long run,” Len said.

“Everybody is welcome to this community event. It’s also a great opportunity to find out what the Freemasons are all about. There is so much more to our work than secret handshakes and rituals,” he said.

The Beaudesert Men’s Health Matters information session will take place on Sunday 29th September at the Beaudesert Masonic Centre from 11am – 12:30pm.

Find out more about Hand Heart Pocket’s philosophy

 

There’s no disputing that a good night’s sleep can vastly improve a person’s quality of life and when it comes to the aged a specialised bed can make all the difference.

Allora Nursing Home (Southern Cross Care) thanks to Hope Masonic Lodge, was recently gifted a new Floorline Bed. The 21-bed facility was one of six community initiatives across Queensland to receive a Grassroots Community Grant from Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland, sharing in over $50K as part of its 2019 round.

Hope Masonic Lodge Secretary Allan Darr said they were chuffed that their nomination had been successful.

“This is about helping to care for the elderly,” Allan said.

“The new bed will ensure a comfortable night’s rest, helping to prevent falls and pressure injuries. It will be easier on staff too which is another plus.”

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said helping communities to meet the challenges of an ageing population was part of their long-term charitable focus.

“Initiatives that are centered around enhancing the lives of the aged are in line with our values,” Gary said.

“Our grassroots support has helped to fulfil a need within Hope Lodge’s local community – empowering the aged to lead better lives,” he said.

Photo: Allora Nursing Home Administrator Robyn Vivian, Hope Masonic Lodge Secretary Allan Darr and Southern Cross Care Chief Mission and Identity Michael Hart.

Find out more about Hand Heart Pocket’s philosophy

Since opening its doors in October last year, the HELP Centre of Excellence Community Disability Hub has enabled 100 young people living with a disability to integrate into the workforce. Also in the past year, it has offered valuable work experience opportunities for 70 students with disabilities in Years 10-12.

The $3.3 Million Centre in Crestmead, Logan City, is an initiative of disability employment charity, Help Enterprises. Last June, HELP received a $1 Million Flagship Grant from Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland to help cover the funding gap with the purchase and fit-out of this new Centre.

Now almost 12 months since its opening, one young employee has provided an insight into the impact that working there has had on her. 21-year-old Rebekah works two days a week as part of the supply chain services business. She undertakes a range of tasks such as product assembly, packaging and warehousing.

Just like any 21-year-old, she loves the freedom that having a job - and her own money - offers. She says her favourite part of the job is spending time with her colleagues, meeting new people and chatting with visitors to the warehouse. She also enjoys the variety of tasks that are on offer at HELP Enterprises and says that it’s exciting to always be learning something new. Rebekah’s enthusiasm and friendly nature have made her a valuable part of the team.

A lucky coincidence connected Rebekah, her mum and HELP Enterprises when they saw a job advertisement in the window at HELP Enterprise’s office at Browns Plains. They decided to go inside and have a chat and found out that the role would be a great fit for Rebekah.

However, her Mum says that life would be very different for Rebekah if she didn’t have the opportunity to work part-time. The job has made Rebekah feel like she belongs. Just like her siblings, she has a routine: she gets up, goes to work, and earns a regular paycheck. She can now choose how she spends her money and enjoys more independence than ever before.

Rebekah has also become more self-sufficient by building new skills in her work routine, such as operating the communal microwave in the lunchroom and using the kettle responsibly. Without employment, Rebekah would be spending her days at home, and have far fewer opportunities to socialise with her peers and build these important skills.

Rebekah’s story is one of many success stories. It’s clear that the Help Centre of Excellence is making an impact on those who might otherwise slip through the cracks. Through the support of Hand Heart Pocket and other donors, young people with a disability like Rebekah have been given a hand up and are making a valuable contribution to the community while building more independent futures for themselves.

Photo: 21-year-old Rebekah works two days a week at Help Enterprises’ supply chain services business in Crestmead.

Find out who we help

The prestigious Order of Service to Benevolence Jewel was recently awarded to Norm Souter-Smith of Cleveland Masonic Lodge for his dedication to the community.

Having been a Freemason for over 26 years, Norm has excelled in his role as the coordinator of the annual Townsville Masonic Charity Debutante Ball.

Initially taking on the role of publicity officer, over the years Norm has made every effort to help keep this tradition alive for the region’s youth.

He ensures that the whole community is engaged with this event through fundraising activities such as raffles, ticket sales, sponsorship and general volunteer engagement.

Thousands of dollars have been distributed to local charities, with the help of Hand Heart Pocket.

More recently, during the Townsville floods in February, Norm went out of his way to make sure others in his community were ok.

He became Hand Heart Pocket’s liaison on the ground, helping those in most need to apply for Disaster Relief funding.

In the weeks after the floods, Norm was still checking in with members of the community to make sure they were alright. Congratulations Norm!

Photo from left: Order of Service to Benevolence Jewel recipient Norm Souter-Smith and his wife Beryl who was also recognised by the then Grand Master Alan Townson (now immediate Past Grand Master).

Find out more about Hand Heart Pocket’s philosophy

This year didn’t get off to a good start for North Queensland with the region being ravaged by floods in February. Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark reflected on the impact that the North Queensland Freemasons had in the immediate aftermath, with Hand Heart Pocket’s support, to help people get back on their feet.

“Thanks to the Freemasons on the ground in Townsville who were able to quickly identify those who needed our support the most, we were able to act quickly and provide those people with a one-off disaster relief grant,” Gary said.

“Twenty-four families were given a hand up, with a total of $48,000 being distributed.”

“People were of course, also receiving on the ground assistance from other support agencies and the government, including emergency payments. We would especially like to thank our members on the ground for keeping us updated on the situation,” he said.

North Queensland Freemason Norm Souter-Smith recalls how the local Masonic community provided practical support during the height of the weather event, as well as during the cleanup and recovery stages.

“It was such a distressing time, but we decided to roll up our sleeves and do what we could to help each other to get through this,” Norm said.

Now, six months on, people are slowly but surely rebuilding their lives. However, by most estimates, it could take a good 12 months or more to fully recover, with 1,500 of the 3,000 homes affected, still not habitable.

“Those that received assistance from Hand Heart Pocket all expressed their gratitude. In the last couple of weeks I have been in contact with eighteen of these recipients. Ten are still not back in their homes, some hope to return before Christmas, others after Christmas.”

“When you enter the houses of those who have returned, most are still not fully finished. The walls are yet to be painted, light fittings yet to be bought, and gardens neglected.”

“The owners talk of furniture ordered, but not yet delivered. You walk around and notice pictures on the walls but no family photographs, new side tables and chiffonieres without little collectables and new fridges without grand-children’s drawings held on by magnets. In fact, not even any magnets.”

“All those little things which make the house a home. Returning to their home is just the start of the recovery,” he said.

Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland provides Disaster Relief assistance to members of the community when a natural disaster has occurred such as a cyclone or flood, giving them a hand up to help them get back on their feet.

Photo: North Queensland Freemason Michael Fry and his wife Jacqui. Michael points out the height to which the water rose.

Find out more about Hand Heart Pocket’s philosophy

Members are invited to our ‘Year in Review’ event where we will outline our achievements over the past year and hear from some of our charity partners.

When: Monday November 4, 2019
            5.15pm (for a 6pm start)

Where: Brisbane Airport Conference Centre
             2 Dryandra Road, Brisbane Q 4008

Places are limited. Subsidised transport will be available from Gympie, Cooroy, Maroochydore, Caboolture, Toowoomba and Ipswich. 

To express your interest in attending, please email info@handheartpocket.org.au by Thursday 24th October 2019. 

A vital bus service which enables the elderly and people with disabilities in the Western Downs region to maintain their independence has been saved, with the local Freemasons championing a sizable philanthropic grant.

Murilla Masonic Lodge which turns 100 this month, was the driving force behind a $102,500 Significant Grant from Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland to the Murilla Community Centre in Miles, allowing the organisation to replace one of its community buses, with a new wheelchair accessible Hiace bus and allow them to purchase a RAV4.

Murilla Community Centre Manager Cecily Brockhurst said their bus service is the only transport option for the aged and disabled in the area, and with one of the buses in constant need of repairs, the Centre was on the brink of scaling back the service.

“Approximately 100 people use this service every month to visit the Community Centre, to partake in social activities, to do their shopping and banking and to travel as far as Toowoomba for specialist appointments,” Cecily said.

“Therefore, had we not received this generous grant, at this time, our clients’ quality of life would have been severely impacted, especially because there is no taxi or public transport service in this region.”

“These new vehicles will allow us to provide continuity of support to the most vulnerable in our community, enabling them to access reliable, safe and fit-for-purpose transportation – we are so very grateful for this hand up,” she said.

Murilla Masonic Lodge representative Ted Gibbons said there is no better way to ring in their centenary celebrations.

“Over the last 100 years Murilla Lodge has taken an interest in supporting local causes, to help fulfil the needs of our community. We are elated that our push for this funding was a success,” Ted said.

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said this grant had been provided on behalf of the Freemasons of Queensland.

“Empowering people to lead more independent lives is at the heart of what we do,” Gary said.

“Also, helping regional communities to meet the challenges of an aging population is one of our long-term charitable focuses.”

“We credit the local Freemasons for prioritising the quality of life of the elderly and people with disabilities in the Western Downs region and are particularly proud to provide this grant in Murilla Lodge’s centenary year,” he said.

Photo: Freemasons of the Western Downs region joined Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland for the handover of two new vehicles to the Murilla Community Centre in Miles. 

Find out who we help

More men will be able to seek help to improve their mental wellbeing and lead a more fulfilling life, with a community men’s suicide awareness program being announced as the third beneficiary of the Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland River 2 Reef Charity Ride.

The Suicide Prevention Community Action Planning Group’s Men’s Campaign based at ‘selectability’ joins RACQ CQ Rescue Helicopter Service and Mackay and District Sporting Wheelies as beneficiaries of the ride which has raised more than $450,000 in the past nine years.

Earlier this year, Hand Heart Pocket signed on as the Naming Rights Sponsor of the Mackay-based event for the next three years. The sponsorship agreement will see the Freemason charity contribute $25,000 each year towards the event from 2019-2021. In addition, they will match the first $50,000 raised through the event, dollar-for-dollar, each year during the sponsorship period. This means the more participants, the more funds that will be raised, and the ability for the event to support this third charity.

‘selectability’ CEO Debra Burden thanked the local Freemasons for championing the need for additional support in the area of suicide awareness within the community.

“Since 2017, we have been supporting this region to develop and implement a Suicide Prevention Community Action Plan. Funding from the Hand Heart Pocket River 2 Reef Charity Ride will help to extend our reach so more people can access and benefit from our Suicide Prevention program within the Mackay, Whitsunday and Isaac region.”

Mackay District Freemason David Sykes said the impact of this ‘hand up’ will be felt in the community.

“The Suicide Prevention Community Action Planning Group is doing incredibly important work to increase awareness about male suicide in the region, so we are pleased that the charity of Freemasons Queensland, Hand Heart Pocket, are able to provide them with this extra support,” David said.

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark agreed, pointing out that one of their priorities is to improve men’s mental and physical health.

“Our work is based around alleviating suffering and empowering people to lead better lives,” Gary said.

“The statistics on men’s mental health, in general, are deeply concerning - six out of every eight suicide victims in Australia are men, nearly three times the number who die in road accidents.,” he said.

Ride organiser Evan Corry said Hand Heart Pocket’s generous sponsorship built on the ride’s strong local support and enabled assistance to extend to a third charity.

“We encourage everyone to get involved in the ride – it’s a great event – and we are looking forward to seeing the community come out in force this year in support of three really important local charities.”

The 2019 Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland River 2 Reef Ride will be held on Saturday 14 September 2019. To register for the ride, visit: https://river2reefride.com.au/

Photo: The Mackay District Freemasons, River 2 Reef Charity Ride organisers, selectability, RACQ CQ Rescue, Mackay and District Sporting Wheelies and other notable guests were among those to join Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland for the special announcement. 

 

The first sod has been turned on a purpose-built accommodation complex which will help more people with disabilities have access to appropriate housing on the Darling Downs.

The single-storey complex, located in Centenary Heights, will include four fully customised units which will meet individual needs, include assistive technology, and help empower residents to lead more independent lives.

One of the three-bedroom units will be owned by YellowBridge QLD thanks to a generous donation from Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland.

YellowBridge received $450,000 from the Masonic charity to construct and manage the unit which will accommodate two people with disabilities and a carer.

YellowBridge QLD Chief Executive Officer Penny Hamilton said it was exciting to finally see construction commence after 12 months of planning and building approvals.

“We are in the midst of a disability housing crisis on the Darling Downs, where people with disabilities, especially those whose ageing parents can no longer look after them, have no-where to go,” Penny said.

“We know of 40 people in this position. While many have the means to buy or rent their own place, there is simply no suitable housing for them in the region,” she said.

“A few will never have the means to pay for a place to live.”

“Having access to appropriate housing is an important part of the equation for improving the overall quality of life of people with disabilities.”

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said the local Freemasons were vocal supporters of YellowBridge QLD, due to its proven record of supporting more than 4,000 people to lead more meaningful and connected lives each year.

“Our purpose is to provide sustainable support that delivers positive outcomes; to provide a hand up to communities, charities and individuals that have limited access to other funding sources,” Mr Mark said.

“Alleviating the stress on ageing parents who care for their disabled children - through the provision of innovative purpose-built housing - aligns with our values of equipping people to lead better lives,” he said.

“We are delighted to partner with YellowBridge QLD on this important initiative and know it will be a catalyst for changing the landscape of disability housing in the region.”

The units are being built by local construction firm, Enabled Living, which specialises in custom-built housing for people with a disability. They are expected to be completed by early 2020.

Photo: Toowoomba Freemasons Ian Parry, Maurice Howell, Bob Holzberger, Roger Turnbull, Barry Hennessy, Harry Butler and Lachlan Evans joined Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark, YellowBridge Chief Executive Officer Penny Hamilton, YellowBridge Chief Financial Officer Adrian Bonica and YellowBridge General Manager Disability Services Jodie Collins for the turning of the first sod. 

Find out who we help

As the sun came up in Mackay on Saturday morning, 1,000 participants lined up along River Street near Paxton’s Markets for the start of the Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland River 2 Reef Charity Ride.

Organisers of the annual event were thrilled to announce that $100,000 had been raised in 2019 – the most that has been raised in the event’s nine-year history – taking the total raised over nine years to well over half a million dollars.

As the new Naming Rights Sponsor of the event, Hand Heart Pocket contributed $25,000 and also agreed to match the first $50,000 raised, dollar-for-dollar. Due to this extra support from Hand Heart Pocket, for the first time in the event’s history, a third local charity will benefit. The Suicide Prevention Community Action Planning Group’s Men’s Campaign based at ‘selectability joined RACQ CQ Rescue and the Mackay and District Sporting Wheelies as  beneficiaries of the event.

Among this year’s ride participants was Hand Heart Pocket’s Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark who joined the Mackay District Freemasons team.

“This was my first time doing the River 2 Reef Charity Ride and while it was cold to begin with, it turned out to be a lovely day,” Gary said.

A broad cross-section of the community participated, including families as well as those well over 70 years of age.

The volunteers and supporters kept the riders going and by mid-morning many of the participants had crossed the finish line, before having some well-earned brunch at the Bluewater Quay. 

Gary said by supporting this regional community event, Hand Heart Pocket was furthering some of their own charitable goals.

“Our work is focused on alleviating suffering and empowering people to lead better lives. Also improving men’s mental and physical health is one of our priorities, hence us having chosen a local suicide prevention awareness campaign as the third beneficiary,” Gary said.

“We thank the local Freemasons for bringing this regional community event to our attention and for their support in the lead up to the event and on the day. We look forward to seeing the impacts that will be made by the benfiting charities,” he said. 

Photo: The Mackay District Freemasons team at the starting line. 

Find out more about Hand Heart Pocket’s philosophy

Men in the Scenic Rim will be empowered to lead better lives, with the local Freemasons set to host the first leg of a statewide awareness campaign focussed on improving men’s mental and physical health.

Coinciding with the Beaudesert Masonic Centre’s upcoming public Open Day on 29th September, Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland and the local Freemasons will run an information session in partnership with CheckUP as part of the 2019 Men’s Health Matters awareness campaign. The community event is the first of up to 15 events to be held across Queensland from September 2019 – March 2020.

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said they are excited for the launch in Beaudesert.

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

The free information session will be delivered by a healthcare provider and will cover a range of topics such as nutrition and physical activity, early detection of cancer, important CheckUPs for men, diabetes and heart disease, mental health and wellbeing and relationships.

CheckUP CEO Ann Maree Liddy said this format is the perfect vehicle to spread awareness about men’s health and wellbeing.

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

 “The importance of mental and physical health can’t be ignored and providing a safe environment for attendees to have a conversation about their mental and physical health is essential,” Ms Liddy said.

Beaudesert Freemason Len Undy is looking forward to welcoming people to the Masonic Centre.

“Being attentive to the needs of the community is part of what it means to be a Freemason. If the Men’s Health Matters information session can motivate one person to make a positive change in their life, then that’s going to have a ripple effect on their family unit and our community in the long run,” Len said.

“Everybody is welcome to this community event. It’s also a great opportunity to find out what the Freemasons are all about. There is so much more to our work than secret handshakes and rituals,” he said.

The Beaudesert Men’s Health Matters information session will take place on Sunday 29th September at the Beaudesert Masonic Centre from 11am – 12:30pm.

Find out more about Hand Heart Pocket’s philosophy

 

There’s no disputing that a good night’s sleep can vastly improve a person’s quality of life and when it comes to the aged a specialised bed can make all the difference.

Allora Nursing Home (Southern Cross Care) thanks to Hope Masonic Lodge, was recently gifted a new Floorline Bed. The 21-bed facility was one of six community initiatives across Queensland to receive a Grassroots Community Grant from Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland, sharing in over $50K as part of its 2019 round.

Hope Masonic Lodge Secretary Allan Darr said they were chuffed that their nomination had been successful.

“This is about helping to care for the elderly,” Allan said.

“The new bed will ensure a comfortable night’s rest, helping to prevent falls and pressure injuries. It will be easier on staff too which is another plus.”

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said helping communities to meet the challenges of an ageing population was part of their long-term charitable focus.

“Initiatives that are centered around enhancing the lives of the aged are in line with our values,” Gary said.

“Our grassroots support has helped to fulfil a need within Hope Lodge’s local community – empowering the aged to lead better lives,” he said.

Photo: Allora Nursing Home Administrator Robyn Vivian, Hope Masonic Lodge Secretary Allan Darr and Southern Cross Care Chief Mission and Identity Michael Hart.

Find out more about Hand Heart Pocket’s philosophy

Since opening its doors in October last year, the HELP Centre of Excellence Community Disability Hub has enabled 100 young people living with a disability to integrate into the workforce. Also in the past year, it has offered valuable work experience opportunities for 70 students with disabilities in Years 10-12.

The $3.3 Million Centre in Crestmead, Logan City, is an initiative of disability employment charity, Help Enterprises. Last June, HELP received a $1 Million Flagship Grant from Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland to help cover the funding gap with the purchase and fit-out of this new Centre.

Now almost 12 months since its opening, one young employee has provided an insight into the impact that working there has had on her. 21-year-old Rebekah works two days a week as part of the supply chain services business. She undertakes a range of tasks such as product assembly, packaging and warehousing.

Just like any 21-year-old, she loves the freedom that having a job - and her own money - offers. She says her favourite part of the job is spending time with her colleagues, meeting new people and chatting with visitors to the warehouse. She also enjoys the variety of tasks that are on offer at HELP Enterprises and says that it’s exciting to always be learning something new. Rebekah’s enthusiasm and friendly nature have made her a valuable part of the team.

A lucky coincidence connected Rebekah, her mum and HELP Enterprises when they saw a job advertisement in the window at HELP Enterprise’s office at Browns Plains. They decided to go inside and have a chat and found out that the role would be a great fit for Rebekah.

However, her Mum says that life would be very different for Rebekah if she didn’t have the opportunity to work part-time. The job has made Rebekah feel like she belongs. Just like her siblings, she has a routine: she gets up, goes to work, and earns a regular paycheck. She can now choose how she spends her money and enjoys more independence than ever before.

Rebekah has also become more self-sufficient by building new skills in her work routine, such as operating the communal microwave in the lunchroom and using the kettle responsibly. Without employment, Rebekah would be spending her days at home, and have far fewer opportunities to socialise with her peers and build these important skills.

Rebekah’s story is one of many success stories. It’s clear that the Help Centre of Excellence is making an impact on those who might otherwise slip through the cracks. Through the support of Hand Heart Pocket and other donors, young people with a disability like Rebekah have been given a hand up and are making a valuable contribution to the community while building more independent futures for themselves.

Photo: 21-year-old Rebekah works two days a week at Help Enterprises’ supply chain services business in Crestmead.

Find out who we help

The prestigious Order of Service to Benevolence Jewel was recently awarded to Norm Souter-Smith of Cleveland Masonic Lodge for his dedication to the community.

Having been a Freemason for over 26 years, Norm has excelled in his role as the coordinator of the annual Townsville Masonic Charity Debutante Ball.

Initially taking on the role of publicity officer, over the years Norm has made every effort to help keep this tradition alive for the region’s youth.

He ensures that the whole community is engaged with this event through fundraising activities such as raffles, ticket sales, sponsorship and general volunteer engagement.

Thousands of dollars have been distributed to local charities, with the help of Hand Heart Pocket.

More recently, during the Townsville floods in February, Norm went out of his way to make sure others in his community were ok.

He became Hand Heart Pocket’s liaison on the ground, helping those in most need to apply for Disaster Relief funding.

In the weeks after the floods, Norm was still checking in with members of the community to make sure they were alright. Congratulations Norm!

Photo from left: Order of Service to Benevolence Jewel recipient Norm Souter-Smith and his wife Beryl who was also recognised by the then Grand Master Alan Townson (now immediate Past Grand Master).

Find out more about Hand Heart Pocket’s philosophy

This year didn’t get off to a good start for North Queensland with the region being ravaged by floods in February. Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark reflected on the impact that the North Queensland Freemasons had in the immediate aftermath, with Hand Heart Pocket’s support, to help people get back on their feet.

“Thanks to the Freemasons on the ground in Townsville who were able to quickly identify those who needed our support the most, we were able to act quickly and provide those people with a one-off disaster relief grant,” Gary said.

“Twenty-four families were given a hand up, with a total of $48,000 being distributed.”

“People were of course, also receiving on the ground assistance from other support agencies and the government, including emergency payments. We would especially like to thank our members on the ground for keeping us updated on the situation,” he said.

North Queensland Freemason Norm Souter-Smith recalls how the local Masonic community provided practical support during the height of the weather event, as well as during the cleanup and recovery stages.

“It was such a distressing time, but we decided to roll up our sleeves and do what we could to help each other to get through this,” Norm said.

Now, six months on, people are slowly but surely rebuilding their lives. However, by most estimates, it could take a good 12 months or more to fully recover, with 1,500 of the 3,000 homes affected, still not habitable.

“Those that received assistance from Hand Heart Pocket all expressed their gratitude. In the last couple of weeks I have been in contact with eighteen of these recipients. Ten are still not back in their homes, some hope to return before Christmas, others after Christmas.”

“When you enter the houses of those who have returned, most are still not fully finished. The walls are yet to be painted, light fittings yet to be bought, and gardens neglected.”

“The owners talk of furniture ordered, but not yet delivered. You walk around and notice pictures on the walls but no family photographs, new side tables and chiffonieres without little collectables and new fridges without grand-children’s drawings held on by magnets. In fact, not even any magnets.”

“All those little things which make the house a home. Returning to their home is just the start of the recovery,” he said.

Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland provides Disaster Relief assistance to members of the community when a natural disaster has occurred such as a cyclone or flood, giving them a hand up to help them get back on their feet.

Photo: North Queensland Freemason Michael Fry and his wife Jacqui. Michael points out the height to which the water rose.

Find out more about Hand Heart Pocket’s philosophy

A vital bus service which enables the elderly and people with disabilities in the Western Downs region to maintain their independence has been saved, with the local Freemasons championing a sizable philanthropic grant.

Murilla Masonic Lodge which turns 100 this month, was the driving force behind a $102,500 Significant Grant from Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland to the Murilla Community Centre in Miles, allowing the organisation to replace one of its community buses, with a new wheelchair accessible Hiace bus and allow them to purchase a RAV4.

Murilla Community Centre Manager Cecily Brockhurst said their bus service is the only transport option for the aged and disabled in the area, and with one of the buses in constant need of repairs, the Centre was on the brink of scaling back the service.

“Approximately 100 people use this service every month to visit the Community Centre, to partake in social activities, to do their shopping and banking and to travel as far as Toowoomba for specialist appointments,” Cecily said.

“Therefore, had we not received this generous grant, at this time, our clients’ quality of life would have been severely impacted, especially because there is no taxi or public transport service in this region.”

“These new vehicles will allow us to provide continuity of support to the most vulnerable in our community, enabling them to access reliable, safe and fit-for-purpose transportation – we are so very grateful for this hand up,” she said.

Murilla Masonic Lodge representative Ted Gibbons said there is no better way to ring in their centenary celebrations.

“Over the last 100 years Murilla Lodge has taken an interest in supporting local causes, to help fulfil the needs of our community. We are elated that our push for this funding was a success,” Ted said.

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said this grant had been provided on behalf of the Freemasons of Queensland.

“Empowering people to lead more independent lives is at the heart of what we do,” Gary said.

“Also, helping regional communities to meet the challenges of an aging population is one of our long-term charitable focuses.”

“We credit the local Freemasons for prioritising the quality of life of the elderly and people with disabilities in the Western Downs region and are particularly proud to provide this grant in Murilla Lodge’s centenary year,” he said.

Photo: Freemasons of the Western Downs region joined Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland for the handover of two new vehicles to the Murilla Community Centre in Miles. 

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More men will be able to seek help to improve their mental wellbeing and lead a more fulfilling life, with a community men’s suicide awareness program being announced as the third beneficiary of the Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland River 2 Reef Charity Ride.

The Suicide Prevention Community Action Planning Group’s Men’s Campaign based at ‘selectability’ joins RACQ CQ Rescue Helicopter Service and Mackay and District Sporting Wheelies as beneficiaries of the ride which has raised more than $450,000 in the past nine years.

Earlier this year, Hand Heart Pocket signed on as the Naming Rights Sponsor of the Mackay-based event for the next three years. The sponsorship agreement will see the Freemason charity contribute $25,000 each year towards the event from 2019-2021. In addition, they will match the first $50,000 raised through the event, dollar-for-dollar, each year during the sponsorship period. This means the more participants, the more funds that will be raised, and the ability for the event to support this third charity.

‘selectability’ CEO Debra Burden thanked the local Freemasons for championing the need for additional support in the area of suicide awareness within the community.

“Since 2017, we have been supporting this region to develop and implement a Suicide Prevention Community Action Plan. Funding from the Hand Heart Pocket River 2 Reef Charity Ride will help to extend our reach so more people can access and benefit from our Suicide Prevention program within the Mackay, Whitsunday and Isaac region.”

Mackay District Freemason David Sykes said the impact of this ‘hand up’ will be felt in the community.

“The Suicide Prevention Community Action Planning Group is doing incredibly important work to increase awareness about male suicide in the region, so we are pleased that the charity of Freemasons Queensland, Hand Heart Pocket, are able to provide them with this extra support,” David said.

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark agreed, pointing out that one of their priorities is to improve men’s mental and physical health.

“Our work is based around alleviating suffering and empowering people to lead better lives,” Gary said.

“The statistics on men’s mental health, in general, are deeply concerning - six out of every eight suicide victims in Australia are men, nearly three times the number who die in road accidents.,” he said.

Ride organiser Evan Corry said Hand Heart Pocket’s generous sponsorship built on the ride’s strong local support and enabled assistance to extend to a third charity.

“We encourage everyone to get involved in the ride – it’s a great event – and we are looking forward to seeing the community come out in force this year in support of three really important local charities.”

The 2019 Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland River 2 Reef Ride will be held on Saturday 14 September 2019. To register for the ride, visit: https://river2reefride.com.au/

Photo: The Mackay District Freemasons, River 2 Reef Charity Ride organisers, selectability, RACQ CQ Rescue, Mackay and District Sporting Wheelies and other notable guests were among those to join Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland for the special announcement. 

 

Efforts to improve men’s health and wellbeing in Far North Queensland have been backed by the region’s Freemasons. Earlier this month a new Men’s Shed was officially opened at Holloways Beach.

The Carpentaria Freemasons and Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland each contributed $27.5k last year to help to bring this important community initiative to fruition.

Carpentaria District Board of Benevolence Acting Chairman Bob Lackey said this community effort, will ensure more men in Far North Queensland have a dedicated space where they can go to enhance their mental and physical health.

“As a fraternal organisation, we know the ripple effect that camaraderie and a sense of purpose can have on a person’s mental and physical health, which is why we were so keen to support this local Men’s Shed initiative.”

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said support for programs and services that address men’s mental and physical health is part of the organisation’s long-term strategic focus.

“Having a relaxed space, where men can not only build things, but build relationships and share their feelings will be hugely positive – not just for them, but for their families and the wider community as a whole,” Gary said.

“Many lives will be impacted for the better thanks to this new Men’s Shed at Holloways Beach. By teaming up with the Carpentaria Freemasons, we have been able to support this important local initiative,” he said.

Photo: Carpentaria Deputy District Grand Master Raja Chohan, Gregory Allan Lodge Chaplain and Men’s Shed member Keith Morgan, President of the Board of Benevolence for Carpentaria District Duncan Walker and Gregory Allan Lodge Almoner and Men’s Shed member John Cavill-Jones.

Find out more about Hand Heart Pocket’s philosophy

Members are invited to our ‘Year in Review’ event where we will outline our achievements over the past year and hear from some of our charity partners.

When: Monday November 4, 2019
            5.15pm (for a 6pm start)

Where: Brisbane Airport Conference Centre
             2 Dryandra Road, Brisbane Q 4008

Places are limited. Subsidised transport will be available from Gympie, Cooroy, Maroochydore, Caboolture, Toowoomba and Ipswich. 

To express your interest in attending, please email info@handheartpocket.org.au by Thursday 24th October 2019.