x

News & Events

The Royal Flying Doctor Service (Queensland Section) (RFDS) in Cairns has received a helping hand to restock essential aeromedical and clinical equipment thanks to a COVID-19 Emergency Community Grant of almost $10,000 from Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland.

Much-needed items such as specialised coolers to transport vaccines, syringe drivers, digital thermometers and intensive care response kits will be purchased with the funds, to help the local base to continue providing aeromedical and primary health care services to rural and remote patients.

Since the onset of COVID-19, community fundraising for the RFDS by volunteer groups and through events such as campdrafts, sausage sizzles and open days, has decreased significantly across the state due to strict social distancing guidelines.

RFDS Cairns Base Service Coordinator Leanne Lowe welcomed the grant, stating that it helped to address an urgent need.

“As the state opens up to tourism and business, we expect to see an increase in aeromedical work, and this equipment will be vital for our response,” Ms Lowe said.

“While incredibly grateful for the funding we receive from the State and Federal Governments, the RFDS also relies on community fundraising and donations such as this to deliver vital healthcare services. 

“We are extremely grateful for this donation from Hand Heart Pocket and for their wonderful support over the years.”

Murray Freemasons Lodge representative Alan Sims said they nominated the Cairns Base of the Royal Flying Doctor Service for the grant.

“We have supported the Cairns Base over a number of years, but with the COVID-19 restrictions we had to put our charity work on hold,” Alan said.

“We are so proud that the Freemason charity has come to the aid of the local RFDS with this grant, in recognition of the important role that the service plays in improving health outcomes in regional and remote Far North Queensland.”

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said the charity was focused on assisting its existing charity partners and working with Freemason Lodges to increase support at a grassroots level during the Coronavirus pandemic.

“So far, Hand Heart Pocket has provided over $750,000 in COVID-19 emergency support and Grassroots Community Grants to charities across Queensland during the pandemic,” Gary said.

“Cairns RFDS provides an essential service for the region, and we are glad we could provide this extra support at a time when their community needs them the most.”

Photo: Carpentaria Deputy District Grand Master Raja Chohan, Murray Lodge representative Alan Sims, Royal Flying Doctor Service PHC Nurse Lisa Wisely and Cairns Base Service Coordinator Leanne Lowe.

Find out more about our support during COVID-19

Redland Community Centre has received a hand up to continue supporting the region’s homeless, having secured a $10,000 COVID-19 Emergency Grant from Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland.

The grant will fund additional administrative assistance to help the Homeless United team to cope with the rise in case management brought on by the pandemic.

Redland Community Centre CEO Allison Wicks said this would make a significant difference for the Centre which has been operating on skeleton staff ever since social distancing restrictions had come into effect several months ago.

“The Centre has remained open throughout the pandemic in order to provide homeless support services for those doing it tough and what we’ve seen is a huge spike in demand for help,” Ms Wicks said.

“Sadly, our team of volunteers aren’t back on site to help us out so this additional admin support will help us to get through both the face to face and phone assessments, to get people the help they need.”

Redlands Freemasons Lodge Secretary Ken Rose said they nominated the local organisation for the grant.

“The Homeless United team has responded to this urgent need within the community and are so very deserving of this grant,” Mr Rose said.

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said the charity was focused on assisting its existing charity partners and working with Freemason Lodges to increase support at a grassroots level during the Coronavirus pandemic.

“So far, Hand Heart Pocket has provided over $750,000 in COVID-19 emergency support and Grassroots Community Grants to charities across Queensland during the pandemic,” Mr Mark said.

“Redland Community Centre provides an essential service for the region, and we are glad we could provide this extra support at a time when they needed it the most.”

Photo: Redland Community Centre Board Chair Chris Webster, Redlands Freemasons Lodge representatives Romeo Asa, Billy Cupples and Ken Rose alongside Redland Community Centre Operations Manager Rachel Wicks.

Find out more about our support during COVID-19

Even now, Bloomhill Cancer Care client Ric Colclough tears up when he recalls the first time that he walked into the renowned Wellness Centre, with Billy, his red kelpie almost three years ago.

At the time he was already into his second year of treatment and was a little apprehensive about seeking support.  However, the welcome that he got changed everything.

“I sensed something deep and special here, an acceptance and understanding of my plight from everyone, staff, volunteers and other clients,” Ric said.

“Bloomhill showed me there was more to my cancer journey than IV drips and the nauseating side effects of treatment.”

The 71-year-old’s cancer journey began in late 2014 when he was diagnosed with stage 3 Hodgkins Lymphoma above and below his abdomen. His life expectancy was six to 12 months had he not pursued treatment. Following six months of chemotherapy, Ric relapsed eight months later resulting in another three months of treatment and a gruelling autologous stem cell transplant (SCT) which saw him receive seven days of 24/7 IV chemo, in complete isolation.

It was around this time that Ric reached out to Bloomhill. He has since had a dedicated registered nurse who regularly monitors his wellbeing, has formed connections with other cancer patients, joined support groups, exercise classes and meditation as well as having had a peaceful place to relax with Billy.

Although when all seemed well, in May of last year, pain near his belly button turned out to be a tennis ball-sized lump or follicular Lymphoma which is incurable but has a slower growth rate.  

“Six months of another chemo brew ensued ending on Christmas Eve… Happy Christmas. I responded to treatment well.”

Up until March Ric was receiving radiation or maintenance treatment but chose to ‘hospital distance’ when COVID-19 restrictions came into effect, but not before he ended up in Emergency with sepsis which saw him warded for seven days.

Like all other Bloomhill clients, Ric has been in strict lockdown over the past four months but having access to their online services has been vital.

“I enthusiastically joined the Bloomhill Survivor Group online,” Ric said.

“Here I am in lockdown frequently talking with my Bloomhill nurses, zooming meditation sessions and fortnightly psychology appointments. I reckon at 71 and single I have earned the ‘Survivor’ label. I haven’t felt this good for years.”

As lockdown restrictions ease, Bloomhill is slowly returning to face-to-face appointments, and Ric is looking forward to being back at the Centre.

Despite all the ups and downs, Ric remains positive and is grateful to Bloomhill for their unwavering support. He has also expressed his gratitude to Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland and Freemasons across the state for getting behind the service especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I am so appreciative that the Freemasons are supporting Bloomhill. I don't know how it would have been for me over the past three years if it hadn't been for all the services Bloomhill supplies to us clients.

“Bloomhill without a doubt, has been and always will be a heart-warming sanctuary for us. It's not only the deep understanding of the day to day challenges we face in our respective cancer journeys but the welcoming and nurturing presence that is the Bloomhill hallmark we appreciate so much.

“The Bloomhill team face many challenges presently, not only pandering to our needs but just being able to survive in these troubling times. You not only helped me to survive and provide me with a quality of life in difficult and sometimes dark times but an opportunity to always look on the bright side of life. So once again a heartfelt thank you from all of us to all of you.”

Last month, Bloomhill Cancer Care’s calls for help were answered by Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland, ensuring 1,228 people living with cancer on the Sunshine Coast could continue to live well.

The Freemason charity provided a $200,000 COVID-19 Emergency Grant to help support the operating costs of the service in the wake of the pandemic. This came a year after the service received a $570,000 Flagship Grant and $130,000 interest-free loan from Hand Heart Pocket to expand its capabilities as a wellness facility in Buderim and relocate the warehouse for its op shop social enterprise.

The latest funding was crucial given that social distancing regulations had significantly reduced its primary source of revenue, with 11 of its 12 social enterprise op shops having to halt trading for a period of time, directly impacting the organisation’s ability to continue funding some of its cancer wellness services.

To further lessen the financial blow that the pandemic delivered, Hand Heart Pocket also provided

Bloomhill Cancer Care with more flexibility around the repayment of last year’s interest-free loan.

The grant was announced amid the Freemason charity providing close to $750,000 in emergency support and Grassroots Community Grants in the wake of COVID-19.

Find out more about our support during COVID-19

Young people with high care needs will be empowered to navigate their way through the COVID-19 pandemic and stay socially connected, through a new virtual support network to be launched by Youngcare next month.

The initiative has been made possible thanks to a $20,000 COVID-19 Emergency Grant from Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland.

The unrestricted funding, which was awarded earlier this month, was initially intended to help set up a new phone service as a way for young people with high care needs to maintain social contact whilst in isolation. However, the initiative was repurposed to better meet the need of their clients who will continue to remain in isolation for some time even though restrictions are slowly easing.  

Youngcare CEO Anthony Ryan said the new virtual support network which is currently not available or covered by the NDIS, will help to create a sense of community and reduce anxiety levels among those most vulnerable.

“Helping those in our community to live with choice and independence is of utmost importance to us, as is their mental health and wellbeing, so this modified initiative will help us to respond to their needs in a more meaningful way during these unprecedented times. 

“Over the next six months we will deliver a series of fortnightly information sessions and monthly masterclasses through the new online platform, giving young people and their families, carers and disability health professionals a forum to share their experiences as well.

“A number of guest speakers are lined up to host the masterclasses based on their area of expertise like automation and smart technology, mental health, financial resilience and carer wellbeing to help build new skills and confidence within our community.”

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said the charity was focused on assisting its charity partners and working with Freemason Lodges to increase support at a grassroots level during the Coronavirus pandemic.

“So far, we have provided almost $750,000 in COVID-19 emergency support and Grassroots Community Grants to charities across Queensland during the pandemic,” said Gary.

“Youngcare has previously been a charity partner of ours, with Hand Heart Pocket having provided half-a-million-dollars’ worth of grants and helping more than 90 young people with high care needs to stay at home and out of inappropriate housing from 2016 to 2018.

“Youngcare provides an essential service, and we are glad we could step in and provide this extra support to help them to adapt at a time when their community needs them the most.”

Find out more about our support during COVID-19

The Maroochy Men’s Shed is another step closer to completion having been awarded a $4,889 Grassroots Community Grant from Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland.

The funds will go towards their lighting costs, helping to cover the funding gap.

Maroochy Men’s Shed Secretary Otto Alder said they were grateful for the assistance.

“We are amazed by the community support we have received to date to make this Men’s Shed a reality,” Mr Alder.

“We could not do what we do without the support of organisations like Hand Heart Pocket and the Sunshine Coast Freemasons.”

Maroochydore Freemasons Lodge Secretary Doug McGill said they nominated the group for the grant.

“The service they offer to the community to enhance men’s mental and physical health through companionship and hands-on projects is invaluable,” Doug said.

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said the Freemason charity was pleased to provide this extra assistance.

“We are appreciative of the Maroochydore Freemasons for identifying this need in their community and nominating the local Men’s Shed for the grant,” Gary said.

“This year we received a greater number of applications with a large geographical spread, particularly in regional Queensland. Fifteen charities shared in almost $120,000 as part this year’s Community Grants round.

“Although the grant round was oversubscribed, we wanted to make sure we maximised our support at a time the community needed it the most. Among the causes we’ve been able to support are youth at risk, our ageing population, men’s mental and physical health, and women’s financial and physical security.”

The grant was announced amid the Freemason charity providing over $700,000 in emergency support and Grassroots Community Grants in the wake of COVID-19.

Find out more about our support during COVID-19

At-risk youth in the Miles District will receive more support to gain skills and find work, with Murilla Community Centre being awarded a $10,000 Grassroots Community Grant from Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland.

The Centre will use the funds to revitalise the disused Miles Scout Den, to make it the hub for their new youth at risk program.

They will also be able to find a Youth Worker and start developing resources in preparation for the launch of the program later this year.

Murilla Community Centre Manager Cecily Brockhurst said the region was in need of a program of this kind.

“Youth unemployment in the area is sitting at over 50%, and youth crime is on the rise too, so we really need to do more to empower vulnerable young people in our community to have a positive outlook for their futures,” Cecily said.

“This new program will give them a central place where they can go, to get help, gain skills, build support networks and go on to secure stable work.”

Murilla Freemasons Lodge representative Ted Gibbons said the local Freemasons were strong supporters of the centre’s work, which is why they had nominated them for the grant.

“We’re all for supporting our local community, and giving the young people of Miles a hand up to realise their potential is an initiative we are proud to champion,” Ted said.

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said they were pleased to work with the local Freemasons again to provide support to Murilla Community Centre to meet the needs of the community.

“We are proud supporters of the centre, having already provided almost $140,000 in grants to them over the past year, including a recent COVID-19 Emergency Grant and funding for their new bus and vehicle,” Gary said.

“We are pleased we could provide this additional support to help improve outcomes for youth at risk.

“Fifteen charities shared in almost $120,000 as part this year’s Community Grants round. We also received a greater number of applications with a large geographical spread, particularly in regional Queensland.”

He said the Freemason charity had provided more than $700,000 in emergency support and Grassroots Community Grants in the wake of COVID-19.

Find out more about our support during COVID-19

Residents at Akooramak Home for the Aged in Warwick will continue to receive the highest standard of care, with the facility having been awarded a $10,000 Grassroots Community Grant from Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland.

The 100-bed facility now has a new bedpan washer and sanitiser, with the grant covering the funding gap.

Chief Executive Officer Darryl Chapman said this was an essential piece of equipment which they were grateful to be able to replace.

“The time was right to replace our old machine, and if it wasn’t for this grant, we would still be looking for ways to fund this purchase,” Mr Chapman said.

“The washer fits perfectly in our pan room and will help our staff to continue providing the highest level of care to our residents by maintaining good infection control practices.”

Cunningham Lodge Secretary Doug Cutmore said the Warwick Freemasons had nominated the home for the grant.

“Supporting Akooramak, is one way that we can help to look after the elderly in our community,” Doug said.

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said his organisation was pleased to provide this extra assistance.

“We are appreciative of the Warwick Freemasons for identifying this need in their community and nominating the organisation for the grant,” Gary said.

“This year we received a greater number of applications with a large geographical spread, particularly in regional Queensland. Fifteen charities shared in almost $120,000 as part this year’s Community Grants round.

“Although the grant round was oversubscribed, we wanted to make sure we maximised our support at a time the community needed it the most. Among the causes we’ve been able to support are youth at risk, our ageing population, men’s mental and physical health, and women’s financial and physical security.”

The grant was announced amid the Freemason charity providing over $700,000 in emergency support and Grassroots Community Grants in the wake of COVID-19.

Photo: President Warwick Benevolent Society Inc Don Stewart, Akooramak Home for the Aged Chief Executive Officer Darryl Chapman alongside Cunningham Freemasons Lodge representatives Bob Lindenberg and Doug Cutmore OAM.

Find out more about our support during COVID-19

More students with disabilities at Maryborough Special School will be re-engaged in learning as a new sensory therapy program is introduced at the school.

The initiative was made possible thanks to a $10,000 Grassroots Community Grant from Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland.

Maryborough Special School Principal Sue Omar said sensory therapy has the ability to reduce challenging behaviours and improve students’ mood so that they can better engage in the classroom.

“This grant will allow us to purchase a range of sensory items like tactile objects, visuals, and sound recordings to stimulate their senses, whilst also having a calming effect on them.”

“Our goal is to eventually create a dedicated Snoezelen or sensory room, as it is more commonly known, to help create the ultimate sensory experience for students and this grant gets us another step closer to achieving this,” Ms Omar said.

Mundubbera-Burnett Freemason Lodge Secretary Peter Keller said they nominated the school for the grant. The members live in the Wide Bay and meet in Maryborough every month.

“Helping students with disabilities to overcome barriers to education is a very worthy cause which the local Freemasons wholeheartedly support,” Mr Keller said.

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said they were pleased to be able to provide this support to Maryborough Special School to help empower students with disabilities in their learning environment.

“We would like to give Mundubbera-Burnett Freemasons a special mention for understanding the needs of their community and bringing this local initiative to our attention,” Gary said.

“Fifteen charities shared in almost $120,000 as part this year’s Community Grants round. We also received a greater number of applications with a large geographical spread, particularly in regional Queensland.

“Although the grant round was oversubscribed, we wanted to make sure we maximised our support at a time the community needed it the most.

“Among the causes we’ve been able to support are youth at risk, our ageing population, men’s mental and physical health, and women’s financial and physical security.”

The grant was announced amid the Freemason charity providing more than $700,000 in emergency support and Grassroots Community Grants in the wake of COVID-19.

Find out more about our support during COVID-19

Queenslanders affected by last summer’s horror bushfire season have not been forgotten by the Freemasons with more than $202K currently being distributed to help those who most need it. 

The funds were raised by Freemasons across the state as part of a Bushfire Appeal instigated by the Grand Master of the Freemasons’ United Grand Lodge of Queensland with funds raised later matched by Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland.

The funds are being distributed in the form of Eftpos cards through Hand Heart Pocket’s partners on the ground, such as the Rural Financial Counselling Service, Lifeline and Granite Belt Neighbourhood Centre. The cards will help to put food on the table and pay essential bills while supporting the local economy. 

Grand Master Paul Holland said this support would prove to be even more important given the heightened level of hardship brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Queensland’s recent bushfire season was devastating enough, not to mention the ongoing drought, but the Coronavirus has compounded the incredible hardship that these communities are facing,” Mr Holland said.

“Freemason Lodges from across the state generously contributed to the campaign, and it is encouraging to know that we’ve been able to provide this assistance to help people get through such difficult circumstances.”

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said the Freemason Charity was proud to match and distribute the funds raised as part of the Grand Master’s Bushfire Appeal.  

“Bushfire-affected families and communities on the Scenic Rim, Darling Downs, Southern Downs, South Burnett, Central Queensland and Atherton Tablelands will receive a helping hand as part of this latest effort,” Mr Mark said.

“We know just how resilient these communities are, having supported those impacted by the drought in previous years, together with the support of Freemason Lodges.”

Photo: Grand Master of the Freemasons’ United Grand Lodge of Queensland Paul Holland.

Find out more about Hand Heart Pocket’s philosophy

People with disabilities in Stanthorpe will now have access to overnight respite facilities that will soon look better than ever thanks to a grant from Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland.

The $10,000 Grassroots Community Grant from the Freemason charity will go towards the cost to paint the exterior of Arden House, which is expected to get underway soon.

The home, which was recently acquired by Granite Belt Support Services (GBSS) has undergone some internal renovations and provides overnight respite accommodation for up to six people with disabilities in the region.

GBSS Manager Therese Crisp said the new paintwork would help to make clients feel more at home.

“GBSS has advocated for people with disabilities for the past three decades, and this grant will help us in our efforts to provide a vibrant and welcoming facility,” Therese said.

“Respite provides more than just a break. It gives clients independent living training as well as the chance to interact socially with one another and attend community events such as the footy, karaoke or even a meal at one of the nearby restaurants,” Therese said.

Stanthorpe Masonic Lodge Secretary Justin Liddy said the local Freemasons championed the grant.

“Our community has been through so much through the years, first the drought, then the bushfires and water shortage. We wanted to do something that would uplift the town,” Justin said.

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said they were all for initiatives that empower people with a disability to live more independently.

“We would like to thank Stanthorpe Freemasons Lodge for understanding the needs of their community and bringing this local initiative to our attention,” Gary said.

“Fifteen charities shared in almost $120,000 as part this year’s Community Grants round. We also received a greater number of applications with a large geographical spread, particularly in regional Queensland.

“Although the grant round was oversubscribed, we wanted to make sure we maximised our support at a time the community needed it the most. Among the causes we’ve been able to support are youth at risk, our ageing population, men’s mental and physical health, and women’s financial and physical security.”

The grant was announced amid the Freemason charity providing more than $700,000 in emergency support and Grassroots Community Grants in the wake of COVID-19.

Photo: Granite Belt Support Services Therese Crisp and Stanthorpe Freemasons Lodge Secretary Justin Liddy.

Find out more about our support during COVID-19

The Royal Flying Doctor Service (Queensland Section) (RFDS) in Cairns has received a helping hand to restock essential aeromedical and clinical equipment thanks to a COVID-19 Emergency Community Grant of almost $10,000 from Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland.

Much-needed items such as specialised coolers to transport vaccines, syringe drivers, digital thermometers and intensive care response kits will be purchased with the funds, to help the local base to continue providing aeromedical and primary health care services to rural and remote patients.

Since the onset of COVID-19, community fundraising for the RFDS by volunteer groups and through events such as campdrafts, sausage sizzles and open days, has decreased significantly across the state due to strict social distancing guidelines.

RFDS Cairns Base Service Coordinator Leanne Lowe welcomed the grant, stating that it helped to address an urgent need.

“As the state opens up to tourism and business, we expect to see an increase in aeromedical work, and this equipment will be vital for our response,” Ms Lowe said.

“While incredibly grateful for the funding we receive from the State and Federal Governments, the RFDS also relies on community fundraising and donations such as this to deliver vital healthcare services. 

“We are extremely grateful for this donation from Hand Heart Pocket and for their wonderful support over the years.”

Murray Freemasons Lodge representative Alan Sims said they nominated the Cairns Base of the Royal Flying Doctor Service for the grant.

“We have supported the Cairns Base over a number of years, but with the COVID-19 restrictions we had to put our charity work on hold,” Alan said.

“We are so proud that the Freemason charity has come to the aid of the local RFDS with this grant, in recognition of the important role that the service plays in improving health outcomes in regional and remote Far North Queensland.”

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said the charity was focused on assisting its existing charity partners and working with Freemason Lodges to increase support at a grassroots level during the Coronavirus pandemic.

“So far, Hand Heart Pocket has provided over $750,000 in COVID-19 emergency support and Grassroots Community Grants to charities across Queensland during the pandemic,” Gary said.

“Cairns RFDS provides an essential service for the region, and we are glad we could provide this extra support at a time when their community needs them the most.”

Photo: Carpentaria Deputy District Grand Master Raja Chohan, Murray Lodge representative Alan Sims, Royal Flying Doctor Service PHC Nurse Lisa Wisely and Cairns Base Service Coordinator Leanne Lowe.

Find out more about our support during COVID-19

Redland Community Centre has received a hand up to continue supporting the region’s homeless, having secured a $10,000 COVID-19 Emergency Grant from Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland.

The grant will fund additional administrative assistance to help the Homeless United team to cope with the rise in case management brought on by the pandemic.

Redland Community Centre CEO Allison Wicks said this would make a significant difference for the Centre which has been operating on skeleton staff ever since social distancing restrictions had come into effect several months ago.

“The Centre has remained open throughout the pandemic in order to provide homeless support services for those doing it tough and what we’ve seen is a huge spike in demand for help,” Ms Wicks said.

“Sadly, our team of volunteers aren’t back on site to help us out so this additional admin support will help us to get through both the face to face and phone assessments, to get people the help they need.”

Redlands Freemasons Lodge Secretary Ken Rose said they nominated the local organisation for the grant.

“The Homeless United team has responded to this urgent need within the community and are so very deserving of this grant,” Mr Rose said.

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said the charity was focused on assisting its existing charity partners and working with Freemason Lodges to increase support at a grassroots level during the Coronavirus pandemic.

“So far, Hand Heart Pocket has provided over $750,000 in COVID-19 emergency support and Grassroots Community Grants to charities across Queensland during the pandemic,” Mr Mark said.

“Redland Community Centre provides an essential service for the region, and we are glad we could provide this extra support at a time when they needed it the most.”

Photo: Redland Community Centre Board Chair Chris Webster, Redlands Freemasons Lodge representatives Romeo Asa, Billy Cupples and Ken Rose alongside Redland Community Centre Operations Manager Rachel Wicks.

Find out more about our support during COVID-19

Even now, Bloomhill Cancer Care client Ric Colclough tears up when he recalls the first time that he walked into the renowned Wellness Centre, with Billy, his red kelpie almost three years ago.

At the time he was already into his second year of treatment and was a little apprehensive about seeking support.  However, the welcome that he got changed everything.

“I sensed something deep and special here, an acceptance and understanding of my plight from everyone, staff, volunteers and other clients,” Ric said.

“Bloomhill showed me there was more to my cancer journey than IV drips and the nauseating side effects of treatment.”

The 71-year-old’s cancer journey began in late 2014 when he was diagnosed with stage 3 Hodgkins Lymphoma above and below his abdomen. His life expectancy was six to 12 months had he not pursued treatment. Following six months of chemotherapy, Ric relapsed eight months later resulting in another three months of treatment and a gruelling autologous stem cell transplant (SCT) which saw him receive seven days of 24/7 IV chemo, in complete isolation.

It was around this time that Ric reached out to Bloomhill. He has since had a dedicated registered nurse who regularly monitors his wellbeing, has formed connections with other cancer patients, joined support groups, exercise classes and meditation as well as having had a peaceful place to relax with Billy.

Although when all seemed well, in May of last year, pain near his belly button turned out to be a tennis ball-sized lump or follicular Lymphoma which is incurable but has a slower growth rate.  

“Six months of another chemo brew ensued ending on Christmas Eve… Happy Christmas. I responded to treatment well.”

Up until March Ric was receiving radiation or maintenance treatment but chose to ‘hospital distance’ when COVID-19 restrictions came into effect, but not before he ended up in Emergency with sepsis which saw him warded for seven days.

Like all other Bloomhill clients, Ric has been in strict lockdown over the past four months but having access to their online services has been vital.

“I enthusiastically joined the Bloomhill Survivor Group online,” Ric said.

“Here I am in lockdown frequently talking with my Bloomhill nurses, zooming meditation sessions and fortnightly psychology appointments. I reckon at 71 and single I have earned the ‘Survivor’ label. I haven’t felt this good for years.”

As lockdown restrictions ease, Bloomhill is slowly returning to face-to-face appointments, and Ric is looking forward to being back at the Centre.

Despite all the ups and downs, Ric remains positive and is grateful to Bloomhill for their unwavering support. He has also expressed his gratitude to Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland and Freemasons across the state for getting behind the service especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I am so appreciative that the Freemasons are supporting Bloomhill. I don't know how it would have been for me over the past three years if it hadn't been for all the services Bloomhill supplies to us clients.

“Bloomhill without a doubt, has been and always will be a heart-warming sanctuary for us. It's not only the deep understanding of the day to day challenges we face in our respective cancer journeys but the welcoming and nurturing presence that is the Bloomhill hallmark we appreciate so much.

“The Bloomhill team face many challenges presently, not only pandering to our needs but just being able to survive in these troubling times. You not only helped me to survive and provide me with a quality of life in difficult and sometimes dark times but an opportunity to always look on the bright side of life. So once again a heartfelt thank you from all of us to all of you.”

Last month, Bloomhill Cancer Care’s calls for help were answered by Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland, ensuring 1,228 people living with cancer on the Sunshine Coast could continue to live well.

The Freemason charity provided a $200,000 COVID-19 Emergency Grant to help support the operating costs of the service in the wake of the pandemic. This came a year after the service received a $570,000 Flagship Grant and $130,000 interest-free loan from Hand Heart Pocket to expand its capabilities as a wellness facility in Buderim and relocate the warehouse for its op shop social enterprise.

The latest funding was crucial given that social distancing regulations had significantly reduced its primary source of revenue, with 11 of its 12 social enterprise op shops having to halt trading for a period of time, directly impacting the organisation’s ability to continue funding some of its cancer wellness services.

To further lessen the financial blow that the pandemic delivered, Hand Heart Pocket also provided

Bloomhill Cancer Care with more flexibility around the repayment of last year’s interest-free loan.

The grant was announced amid the Freemason charity providing close to $750,000 in emergency support and Grassroots Community Grants in the wake of COVID-19.

Find out more about our support during COVID-19

Young people with high care needs will be empowered to navigate their way through the COVID-19 pandemic and stay socially connected, through a new virtual support network to be launched by Youngcare next month.

The initiative has been made possible thanks to a $20,000 COVID-19 Emergency Grant from Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland.

The unrestricted funding, which was awarded earlier this month, was initially intended to help set up a new phone service as a way for young people with high care needs to maintain social contact whilst in isolation. However, the initiative was repurposed to better meet the need of their clients who will continue to remain in isolation for some time even though restrictions are slowly easing.  

Youngcare CEO Anthony Ryan said the new virtual support network which is currently not available or covered by the NDIS, will help to create a sense of community and reduce anxiety levels among those most vulnerable.

“Helping those in our community to live with choice and independence is of utmost importance to us, as is their mental health and wellbeing, so this modified initiative will help us to respond to their needs in a more meaningful way during these unprecedented times. 

“Over the next six months we will deliver a series of fortnightly information sessions and monthly masterclasses through the new online platform, giving young people and their families, carers and disability health professionals a forum to share their experiences as well.

“A number of guest speakers are lined up to host the masterclasses based on their area of expertise like automation and smart technology, mental health, financial resilience and carer wellbeing to help build new skills and confidence within our community.”

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said the charity was focused on assisting its charity partners and working with Freemason Lodges to increase support at a grassroots level during the Coronavirus pandemic.

“So far, we have provided almost $750,000 in COVID-19 emergency support and Grassroots Community Grants to charities across Queensland during the pandemic,” said Gary.

“Youngcare has previously been a charity partner of ours, with Hand Heart Pocket having provided half-a-million-dollars’ worth of grants and helping more than 90 young people with high care needs to stay at home and out of inappropriate housing from 2016 to 2018.

“Youngcare provides an essential service, and we are glad we could step in and provide this extra support to help them to adapt at a time when their community needs them the most.”

Find out more about our support during COVID-19

The Maroochy Men’s Shed is another step closer to completion having been awarded a $4,889 Grassroots Community Grant from Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland.

The funds will go towards their lighting costs, helping to cover the funding gap.

Maroochy Men’s Shed Secretary Otto Alder said they were grateful for the assistance.

“We are amazed by the community support we have received to date to make this Men’s Shed a reality,” Mr Alder.

“We could not do what we do without the support of organisations like Hand Heart Pocket and the Sunshine Coast Freemasons.”

Maroochydore Freemasons Lodge Secretary Doug McGill said they nominated the group for the grant.

“The service they offer to the community to enhance men’s mental and physical health through companionship and hands-on projects is invaluable,” Doug said.

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said the Freemason charity was pleased to provide this extra assistance.

“We are appreciative of the Maroochydore Freemasons for identifying this need in their community and nominating the local Men’s Shed for the grant,” Gary said.

“This year we received a greater number of applications with a large geographical spread, particularly in regional Queensland. Fifteen charities shared in almost $120,000 as part this year’s Community Grants round.

“Although the grant round was oversubscribed, we wanted to make sure we maximised our support at a time the community needed it the most. Among the causes we’ve been able to support are youth at risk, our ageing population, men’s mental and physical health, and women’s financial and physical security.”

The grant was announced amid the Freemason charity providing over $700,000 in emergency support and Grassroots Community Grants in the wake of COVID-19.

Find out more about our support during COVID-19

At-risk youth in the Miles District will receive more support to gain skills and find work, with Murilla Community Centre being awarded a $10,000 Grassroots Community Grant from Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland.

The Centre will use the funds to revitalise the disused Miles Scout Den, to make it the hub for their new youth at risk program.

They will also be able to find a Youth Worker and start developing resources in preparation for the launch of the program later this year.

Murilla Community Centre Manager Cecily Brockhurst said the region was in need of a program of this kind.

“Youth unemployment in the area is sitting at over 50%, and youth crime is on the rise too, so we really need to do more to empower vulnerable young people in our community to have a positive outlook for their futures,” Cecily said.

“This new program will give them a central place where they can go, to get help, gain skills, build support networks and go on to secure stable work.”

Murilla Freemasons Lodge representative Ted Gibbons said the local Freemasons were strong supporters of the centre’s work, which is why they had nominated them for the grant.

“We’re all for supporting our local community, and giving the young people of Miles a hand up to realise their potential is an initiative we are proud to champion,” Ted said.

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said they were pleased to work with the local Freemasons again to provide support to Murilla Community Centre to meet the needs of the community.

“We are proud supporters of the centre, having already provided almost $140,000 in grants to them over the past year, including a recent COVID-19 Emergency Grant and funding for their new bus and vehicle,” Gary said.

“We are pleased we could provide this additional support to help improve outcomes for youth at risk.

“Fifteen charities shared in almost $120,000 as part this year’s Community Grants round. We also received a greater number of applications with a large geographical spread, particularly in regional Queensland.”

He said the Freemason charity had provided more than $700,000 in emergency support and Grassroots Community Grants in the wake of COVID-19.

Find out more about our support during COVID-19

Residents at Akooramak Home for the Aged in Warwick will continue to receive the highest standard of care, with the facility having been awarded a $10,000 Grassroots Community Grant from Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland.

The 100-bed facility now has a new bedpan washer and sanitiser, with the grant covering the funding gap.

Chief Executive Officer Darryl Chapman said this was an essential piece of equipment which they were grateful to be able to replace.

“The time was right to replace our old machine, and if it wasn’t for this grant, we would still be looking for ways to fund this purchase,” Mr Chapman said.

“The washer fits perfectly in our pan room and will help our staff to continue providing the highest level of care to our residents by maintaining good infection control practices.”

Cunningham Lodge Secretary Doug Cutmore said the Warwick Freemasons had nominated the home for the grant.

“Supporting Akooramak, is one way that we can help to look after the elderly in our community,” Doug said.

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said his organisation was pleased to provide this extra assistance.

“We are appreciative of the Warwick Freemasons for identifying this need in their community and nominating the organisation for the grant,” Gary said.

“This year we received a greater number of applications with a large geographical spread, particularly in regional Queensland. Fifteen charities shared in almost $120,000 as part this year’s Community Grants round.

“Although the grant round was oversubscribed, we wanted to make sure we maximised our support at a time the community needed it the most. Among the causes we’ve been able to support are youth at risk, our ageing population, men’s mental and physical health, and women’s financial and physical security.”

The grant was announced amid the Freemason charity providing over $700,000 in emergency support and Grassroots Community Grants in the wake of COVID-19.

Photo: President Warwick Benevolent Society Inc Don Stewart, Akooramak Home for the Aged Chief Executive Officer Darryl Chapman alongside Cunningham Freemasons Lodge representatives Bob Lindenberg and Doug Cutmore OAM.

Find out more about our support during COVID-19

More students with disabilities at Maryborough Special School will be re-engaged in learning as a new sensory therapy program is introduced at the school.

The initiative was made possible thanks to a $10,000 Grassroots Community Grant from Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland.

Maryborough Special School Principal Sue Omar said sensory therapy has the ability to reduce challenging behaviours and improve students’ mood so that they can better engage in the classroom.

“This grant will allow us to purchase a range of sensory items like tactile objects, visuals, and sound recordings to stimulate their senses, whilst also having a calming effect on them.”

“Our goal is to eventually create a dedicated Snoezelen or sensory room, as it is more commonly known, to help create the ultimate sensory experience for students and this grant gets us another step closer to achieving this,” Ms Omar said.

Mundubbera-Burnett Freemason Lodge Secretary Peter Keller said they nominated the school for the grant. The members live in the Wide Bay and meet in Maryborough every month.

“Helping students with disabilities to overcome barriers to education is a very worthy cause which the local Freemasons wholeheartedly support,” Mr Keller said.

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said they were pleased to be able to provide this support to Maryborough Special School to help empower students with disabilities in their learning environment.

“We would like to give Mundubbera-Burnett Freemasons a special mention for understanding the needs of their community and bringing this local initiative to our attention,” Gary said.

“Fifteen charities shared in almost $120,000 as part this year’s Community Grants round. We also received a greater number of applications with a large geographical spread, particularly in regional Queensland.

“Although the grant round was oversubscribed, we wanted to make sure we maximised our support at a time the community needed it the most.

“Among the causes we’ve been able to support are youth at risk, our ageing population, men’s mental and physical health, and women’s financial and physical security.”

The grant was announced amid the Freemason charity providing more than $700,000 in emergency support and Grassroots Community Grants in the wake of COVID-19.

Find out more about our support during COVID-19

Queenslanders affected by last summer’s horror bushfire season have not been forgotten by the Freemasons with more than $202K currently being distributed to help those who most need it. 

The funds were raised by Freemasons across the state as part of a Bushfire Appeal instigated by the Grand Master of the Freemasons’ United Grand Lodge of Queensland with funds raised later matched by Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland.

The funds are being distributed in the form of Eftpos cards through Hand Heart Pocket’s partners on the ground, such as the Rural Financial Counselling Service, Lifeline and Granite Belt Neighbourhood Centre. The cards will help to put food on the table and pay essential bills while supporting the local economy. 

Grand Master Paul Holland said this support would prove to be even more important given the heightened level of hardship brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Queensland’s recent bushfire season was devastating enough, not to mention the ongoing drought, but the Coronavirus has compounded the incredible hardship that these communities are facing,” Mr Holland said.

“Freemason Lodges from across the state generously contributed to the campaign, and it is encouraging to know that we’ve been able to provide this assistance to help people get through such difficult circumstances.”

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said the Freemason Charity was proud to match and distribute the funds raised as part of the Grand Master’s Bushfire Appeal.  

“Bushfire-affected families and communities on the Scenic Rim, Darling Downs, Southern Downs, South Burnett, Central Queensland and Atherton Tablelands will receive a helping hand as part of this latest effort,” Mr Mark said.

“We know just how resilient these communities are, having supported those impacted by the drought in previous years, together with the support of Freemason Lodges.”

Photo: Grand Master of the Freemasons’ United Grand Lodge of Queensland Paul Holland.

Find out more about Hand Heart Pocket’s philosophy

People with disabilities in Stanthorpe will now have access to overnight respite facilities that will soon look better than ever thanks to a grant from Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland.

The $10,000 Grassroots Community Grant from the Freemason charity will go towards the cost to paint the exterior of Arden House, which is expected to get underway soon.

The home, which was recently acquired by Granite Belt Support Services (GBSS) has undergone some internal renovations and provides overnight respite accommodation for up to six people with disabilities in the region.

GBSS Manager Therese Crisp said the new paintwork would help to make clients feel more at home.

“GBSS has advocated for people with disabilities for the past three decades, and this grant will help us in our efforts to provide a vibrant and welcoming facility,” Therese said.

“Respite provides more than just a break. It gives clients independent living training as well as the chance to interact socially with one another and attend community events such as the footy, karaoke or even a meal at one of the nearby restaurants,” Therese said.

Stanthorpe Masonic Lodge Secretary Justin Liddy said the local Freemasons championed the grant.

“Our community has been through so much through the years, first the drought, then the bushfires and water shortage. We wanted to do something that would uplift the town,” Justin said.

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said they were all for initiatives that empower people with a disability to live more independently.

“We would like to thank Stanthorpe Freemasons Lodge for understanding the needs of their community and bringing this local initiative to our attention,” Gary said.

“Fifteen charities shared in almost $120,000 as part this year’s Community Grants round. We also received a greater number of applications with a large geographical spread, particularly in regional Queensland.

“Although the grant round was oversubscribed, we wanted to make sure we maximised our support at a time the community needed it the most. Among the causes we’ve been able to support are youth at risk, our ageing population, men’s mental and physical health, and women’s financial and physical security.”

The grant was announced amid the Freemason charity providing more than $700,000 in emergency support and Grassroots Community Grants in the wake of COVID-19.

Photo: Granite Belt Support Services Therese Crisp and Stanthorpe Freemasons Lodge Secretary Justin Liddy.

Find out more about our support during COVID-19

Members are invited to our ‘Year in Review’ event to hear about our achievements over the past year and from some of our charity partners. Places are limited.

When: Monday 2 November, 2020
            5.15pm (for a 6pm start)

Where: Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre
            Glenelg St, South Brisbane.

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