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News & Events

Bloomhill Cancer Care’s calls for help have been answered by Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland to ensure Sunshine Coast cancer patients can continue to receive much-needed care.

The Freemason charity has provided a COVID-19 Emergency Grant of $200,000 in unrestricted funding to help support Bloomhill Cancer Care’s operating costs in the wake of the pandemic.

The grant comes 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 funding comes at a crucial time for Bloomhill Cancer Care, with social distancing regulations significantly reducing its primary source of trading revenue. The forced trade suspensions of 11 of its 12 social enterprise op shops has impacted the organisation’s ability to continue running its cancer wellness services.

To further lessen the financial burden of the pandemic, Hand Heart Pocket has also provided Bloomhill Cancer Care with more flexibility around the repayment of last year’s interest-free loan.

Bloomhill Cancer Care CEO Chris Frank said the grant, along with generous community support, would help the organisation get through this rough patch so it can continue providing specialised support to thousands of cancer patients living on the Sunshine Coast, Kilcoy, Gympie and Burpengary.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been completely debilitating for our organisation,” Chris said.

“This grant, as well as the flexibility Hand Heart Pocket has afforded us around our existing loan, will alleviate some of our financial stress, allow us to keep staff on, and help preserve the business during this difficult period so we can focus on improving outcomes over the long-term.

“It will also continue to tide us through while we undergo a trial period to conservatively start to build up op shop revenue once again.”

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.

 “Hand Heart Pocket is committed to ensuring its existing charity partners can continue providing support to the community during this challenging time,” Gary said.

“So far, we have provided around $700,000 in COVID-19 emergency support and Grassroots Community Grants to charities across Queensland during the pandemic.

“Bloomhill Cancer Care provides an essential service for its region, and we are glad we could step in and provide this extra support at a time when their community needs them the most.”

Photo: Bloomhill Cancer Care CEO Chris Franck discusses their partnership with Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland at an event last year.

To find out more about Bloomhill Cancer Care go to www.bloomhill.com.au 

Cairns COUCH Cancer Wellness Centre has renewed confidence in their capacity to create a sustainable future supporting Far North Queenslanders affected by cancer and their families, thanks to a $106,000 COVID-19 Emergency Grant announced today from Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland.

The unrestricted funding from Hand Heart Pocket will fill a fundraising shortfall experienced as a result of the economic impact of the Coronavirus pandemic. The grant will also allow the centre to continue providing its telehealth services free of charge during COVID-19, ensuring critical support is provided, in a safe manner, for those who needed it most.

COUCH Wellness Centre Chair Ron Holden said that the grant was a welcome relief since the centre was still in its growth phase.

“Although our past fundraising activities have given us the capacity to provide free telehealth services in the short-term, the local Cairns tourism businesses that support us have been severely impacted by the pandemic,” said Mr Holden.

“This additional financial support for the Wellness Centre means we won’t need to diminish our working capital during this difficult time and gives us renewed confidence in being able to create and sustain a financially secure future for COUCH.”

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said the Freemason 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 around $700,000 in COVID-19 emergency support and Grassroots Community Grants to ensure our existing partners and grassroots charities can continue providing support to the community during the pandemic,” Gary said.

“We were strong supporters of the COUCH Wellness Centre development, providing a half-amillion- dollar grant to see the initial stage of the centre come to fruition.

“The COUCH Wellness Centre provides an essential service for Far North Queensland, and we wanted to ensure that they could meet current needs and continue to improve outcomes for the community over the long-term.”

Photo: COUCH Wellness Centre in Cairns is one of the latest recipients of a COVID-19 Emergency Grant from Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland.

To find out more about COUCH Wellness Centre go to www.couch.org.au

A record number of charities will receive a hand up to continue their important work in the community, as Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland provides close to $700,000 in emergency support and Community Grants in the wake of COVID-19.

COVID-19 Emergency Grants totalling almost $600,000 have been provided to ten charities to help them continue their services and to meet emerging needs as a result of the pandemic. Five of the organisations to benefit are grassroots charities identified by Freemason Lodges. While some of Hand Heart Pocket’s charity partners have received more substantial and flexible support such as Murilla Community Centre in Miles, Vanguard Laundry Services in Toowoomba, Bloomhill Cancer Care on the Sunshine Coast and COUCH Wellness Centre in Cairns.

A further fifteen grassroots charitable initiatives identified by Freemason Lodges will share in just over $120,000 as part of Hand Heart Pocket’s 2020 Grassroots Community Grants round. These grants provide a cash boost of up to $10,000 for qualifying grassroots charitable initiatives identified by Freemason Lodges across Queensland and in Papua New Guinea that support youth at risk, our ageing population, men’s mental and physical health and women’s financial and physical security.

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said the Freemason charity had provided additional funding in the form of COVID-19 Emergency Grants and had increased its funding for its annual Community Grants in response to current community needs.

“We are committed to ensuring our charity partners, as well as grassroots charities, can continue providing support to the community during this challenging time and achieve their planned outcomes over the long-term,” Gary said.

Eight Central West Queensland charities received the lion’s share of funds with just over $200,000 being distributed in this region. One of the COVID-19 Emergency Community Grant recipients, Kaloma Home for the Aged, will purchase equipment such as iPads, to help keep the aged residents connected during this difficult time.

Six Western Queensland charities such as Emerald PCYC and Charleville Neighbourhood Centre received a share in almost $40,000. Emerald PCYC will use its grant to invest in new equipment and fit out a new space to run their enhanced program for at-risk young people on community service orders.

The Wide Bay region was gifted just over $32,000 with three charitable initiatives benefiting including the Royal Flying Doctor Service in Bundaberg, who received a COVID-19 Emergency Grant to purchase equipment and supplies to help reduce the risk for staff and patients during the pandemic.

North Queensland’s Joyful Foundation received $10,000 along with $106,000 in COVID-19 emergency support to COUCH Wellness Centre in the Far North.

Three Sunshine Coast causes shared in almost $210,000 worth of support, including a COVID-19 Emergency Grant to Bloomhill Cancer Care to help them navigate the pandemic.

Hand Heart Pocket’s COVID-19 Emergency Grants will continue to be awarded until the end of June.

“We maintain our commitment to helping our state-wide charity partners during this difficult time and will continue to work with Freemason Lodges to identify grassroots charitable initiatives that require emergency support.”

Find out who we help

Vanguard Laundry Services in Toowoomba can keep people affected by mental illness employed in the wake of COVID-19, thanks to the support of Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland.

A $100,000 COVID-19 Emergency Grant was given by the Freemason charity to the social enterprise commercial laundry so it can continue improving outcomes for people in the region with a lived experience of mental illness.

Since opening its doors, Vanguard Laundry Services has provided jobs and employment pathways for 80 people impacted by mental illness and has helped many of them successfully transition into mainstream work.

Low hotel occupancy as a result of COVID-19 has had a domino effect for Vanguard Laundry Services, with the social enterprise commercial laundry experiencing a reduction in client demand for its services from 52 tonnes of laundry per week to less than eight tonnes per week.

Vanguard Laundry Services Founder Luke Terry said the COVID-19 situation had significantly impacted the laundry’s bottom line, making it very difficult to keep employing people in need.

“The unrestricted COVID-19 Emergency Grant from Hand Heart Pocket will assist us in maintaining critical staff and helping preserve our business during this difficult period,” Mr Terry said.

“Having a mental illness or disability can be a huge barrier to being gainfully employed, but with the right support, we have been able to prove that it is possible to find meaningful employment and enjoy greater independence.

“Without the support of our key partners like Hand Heart Pocket, our sustainable business model would face a significant threat. We are so thankful for this hand up.”

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said the Freemason charity has provided almost $600,000 to date in COVID-19 Emergency Grants and is focused on assisting its existing charity partners and working with Freemason Lodges to increase support at a grassroots level during the Coronavirus pandemic.

“This COVID-19 Emergency Grant is in addition to the $277,500 Significant Grant provided to the laundry in November last year to allow it to take on larger clients and service new contracts, with a view to creating new jobs and an employment pathway for 30 people in the next 12 months,” Mr Mark said.

“Hand Heart Pocket is committed to ensuring its existing charity partners can continue providing support to the community during this challenging time and achieve their planned outcomes over the long-term.

“Vanguard Laundry Services provides an important service for its region, and we are pleased to be able to lend this extra support to help the organisation continue to create employment pathways for people with mental illness.”

Photo: Freemason charity Hand Heart Pocket provides a $100,000 COVID-19 Emergency Grant to charity partner Vanguard Laundry Services in addition to the $277,500 Significant Grant announced to the social enterprise in November last year (pictured).

To find out more about Vanguard Laundry Services go to www.vanguardlaundryservices.com.au

Families in the Western Downs region, who are suffering financial hardship in the wake of COVID-19, can continue to receive emergency assistance from Murilla Community Centre thanks to a COVID-19 Emergency Grant from Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland.

The Freemason charity has granted $36,500 to the Murilla Community Centre in Miles to help people in the region who have been affected by the pandemic to purchase necessities such as food, fuel, pharmaceuticals and toiletries.

The grant is a welcome addition to Murilla Community Centre’s existing emergency relief program, which previously generated most of its funding through a volunteer-run secondhand bookstore. Social distancing regulations meant the store had to close, which has put the emergency relief program in jeopardy at a time when it was needed most.

Murilla Community Centre Manager Cecily Brockhurst said the grant allowed the center to continue to support thousands of Western Downs residents, particularly those who were ineligible for other forms of assistance. It will also help the local economy through the distribution of vouchers to be spent locally.

“We are seeing greater demand for emergency relief in the Western Downs as people lose their jobs or their working hours are reduced because of the Coronavirus. Many are also still suffering from the effects of the drought, so our community is facing some unique economic challenges,” Cecily said.

“We expect a large number of people will need emergency relief while they go through the process of applying for unemployment benefits. This grant will alleviate some of that financial stress and allow us to also provide support for anyone who falls through the cracks and is unable to claim government assistance.”

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said the Freemason 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.

“This COVID-19 Emergency Grant is in addition to the $102,500 Significant Grant provided to the Centre in July last year to purchase a bus and vehicle to ensure the elderly and those with a disability in the community could maintain their independence,” Gary said.

“Hand Heart Pocket is committed to ensuring its existing charity partners can continue providing support to the community during this challenging time and achieve their planned outcomes over the long-term.

“Murilla Community Centre provides an essential service for its region, and we are pleased to be able to to provide this extra support to help them continue to meet the growing community need for emergency relief.”

Photo: Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland has provided a further grant to their charity partners, Murilla Community Centre, to enable their emergency relief program to continue in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. This grant is in addition to the support provided last year for a new bus and vehicle so the centre could help the communities elderly and disabled maintain their independence.  

To find out more about the Murilla Community Centre go to www.mccm.org.au.

 

On the morning of Friday 13 October 2017, four-year-old Mia Wilkinson had been playing happily with her cousins, but complained of a belly ache later that afternoon. By Sunday, she had been admitted into the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) with a diagnosis of sepsis. Mia spent ten days in PICU fighting for her life. The sepsis stopped Mia’s little heart, requiring her to be resuscitated, and rendering her unable to breathe without assistance.

During this period, Mia showed everyone what a tremendous fighter she was when her illness caused blood to stop circulating to both her hands and feet. On 10 November 2017, both Mia’s arms were amputated below the elbow. On 3 January 2018, Mia underwent additional major surgery to amputate both her legs.

Fast forward to today, and the Wilkinsons are adjusting to their new ‘normal’. Mia is a happy, healthy and cheeky little girl. She enjoys swimming lessons, her reading and writing skills have improved, and she has a wonderful and supportive group of friends and teachers at school.

“Mia can move around independently at home now, on her knees, or on a little ride-on toy car. She wears her prosthetic legs for short periods each day and, for the remainder of the time, she uses her wheelchair,” said Amy, Mia’s Mum.

One of the biggest challenges the Wilkinsons faced was that their family home was not adequately equipped to accommodate Mia, following her discharge from the hospital. They couldn’t afford the necessary modifications because of the high ongoing costs associated.

A family friend, Nan Ott, whose husband Alan is a member of Fraser Coast United Lodge suggested that Hand Heart Pocket might be able to assist. Nan made initial contact with Hand Heart Pocket and supported the Wilkinsons with their application.

In 2018 the Wilkinsons received $15,000 in Benevolence Assistance to complete the required modifications on their home. Mia now has a bathroom she can independently access and use. They’ve installed a large, wet shower area and mixer taps so Mia can shower herself without help.

“We also modified the doorway to remove the ‘lip’ between the living and wet area so Mia can ‘zoom’ in and out on her ride-on car. These may not seem like huge modifications to some people, but to us, they mean the world. Without the kindness and support from our local community, including Hand Heart Pocket and the Maryborough Freemasons, this journey would have been terribly lonely, sad and impossible. People have shown us so much overwhelming kindness.”

Over the long-term, Mia will face the challenges of continuing to increase her independence and find new ways for her to complete tasks, such as cooking and driving. She will also require revision surgery as her arm and leg bones grow.

“I am sure she will amaze us, as she already has. Every day we love Mia, cuddle her, hear her laugh, see her develop and we feel grateful she is alive. Instead of seeing what she has ‘lost’ we see what we ‘have’ – a beautiful little girl.”

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said the organisation has helped 60 people doing it tough last financial year through their Benevolence Assistance program.

“It’s always lovely to see people doing well after going through a tough time, especially after having been there for them in their time of need, even in a small way,” he said.

Find out more about Hand Heart Pocket’s philosophy

Townsville Freemason Ron Donnellan was awarded the prestigious Order of Service to Benevolence (OSB) Jewel for his commitment to Masonic charity, in September last year. 

A Freemason of some 48 years, Ron has always set an example for others, giving his time and energy to the community. His positive can-do attitude and compassion for others are what sets him apart. When presenting him with his award late last year, North Queensland District Grand Master Beresford Whyte, commended Ron for his ability to rise above any challenge and for always putting others first.

The retired teacher is probably best known for establishing the Joyful Foundation in memory of his late daughter Joy. Under Ron’s leadership, the organisation has empowered hundreds of disadvantaged primary school students across North Queensland to reach their full potential through the provision of the essentials they need to learn, such as stationery packs. They are also advocates for anti-bullying and promote a more caring environment at schools through the installation of buddy benches.

He is an inspiration to us all. Congratulations Ron!

Photo: North Queensland District Grand Master Beresford Whyte presents Ron Donnellan with his OSB Jewel, in September 2019.

Find out more about Hand Heart Pocket’s philosophy

At Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland, we are very aware that our charity partners and their communities may be facing many challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Building long-term partnerships is important to us, and we want to see our charity partners endure this difficult period and be able to succeed in achieving their planned outcomes over the long-term.

Helping to meet the immediate needs in our communities across Queensland and Papua New Guinea is of utmost importance to us at this time.

We remain committed to providing the $4.25 million in philanthropic support that we have budgeted for this financial year and currently have some budgeted philanthropic funds still available. Our focus for these funds is to:

  • Provide additional support to some of our current and past Significant and Flagship charity partners, where there is the greatest need to ensure important services and programs can continue to be delivered during this difficult time. The need for extra support may be as a result of reduced fundraising or other income due to current health restrictions, an increase in demand for services, or a need to adapt services. Although our refined philanthropic focus is to assist charity partners who support at-risk youth, we will also look to support some current and past charity partners who have the greatest need and are still delivering services at this time. While we will not be able to support every request, we are keen to assist with the grant funding we still have available this financial year where we are able. At this point in time, we will not look to partner with any new charities with which we do not already have a working relationship.
  • Increase our charity work at a grassroots level by supporting important community initiatives identified by our network of Freemason Lodges, where there is an urgent need as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Provide benevolence assistance to individuals who are in extreme need.

To provide our charity partners with some extra reassurance during this time of uncertainty, we would also like to let you know that we are committed to the following:

  • Providing continuity of service – we have made some key changes over the past few weeks to ensure our continuity of service and support. This includes social distancing practices such as moving staff to a virtual working from home environment, virtual meetings, and placing a hold on all work-related travel. We are well placed to provide a continued service to our charity partners, the community and to support the charity work of Freemason Lodges during this difficult period.
  • Exercising flexibility – we understand that these unprecedented times may require your organisation to divert their efforts to more immediate needs. This might mean that projects, programs or services may need to be put on hold, or you may need extra time to formally report back to us. In some exceptional circumstances, our board will also consider requests, on a case by case basis, to redirect granted funds to more immediate and urgent needs. We invite you to have a conversation with us and to maintain open communication channels to keep us abreast of how we can best support your organisation’s needs by exercising flexibility.
  • Maintaining our current commitments - we will maintain our commitment to any new grant recipients that were successful in our latest grant round, of which some are still to be announced.

While there are many challenges that we will face over the coming months, we hope that by working together and maintaining open communication channels, we can continue to improve outcomes for our community over the long-term. 

A Brisbane-based charity working with vulnerable LGBTIQ+ youth, who experience a variety of life challenges, was announced as one of the latest successful grant recipients set to receive a funding injection from Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland.

Open Doors Youth Service (ODYS) who provide more than 2,000 young LGBTIQ+ people each year with support for homelessness, family breakdown, mental health issues and alcohol and drug addiction, will receive an $80,000 Significant Grant from the Freemason charity. The grant will allow ODYS to engage a specialist to help them develop a framework to better understand, measure and manage the impact they are making, and to prepare them to take advantage of future philanthropic funding opportunities.  

Open Doors Youth Service Chief Executive Officer Chris Pickard said the grant was a welcomed boost as the organisation looked to take its services to the next level.

“People who identify as lesbian, bisexual, transgender or gay are at least twice as likely as the general population to experience homelessness at least once in their lifetime, and are at least three times more likely to experience adverse mental health concerns so there’s a real need for support services tailored to helping those who are most at risk,” Mr Pickard said.

“The new framework will allow us to evaluate and redefine our current services, build a stronger foundation for our organisation moving forward, and ultimately, help us to further enrich the lives of young LGBTIQ+ people.”

Hand Heart Pocket CEO Gary Mark said his organisation was committed to helping improve outcomes for the most at risk and vulnerable youth in Queensland.

“We look to partner with other charities and philanthropists whose focus is also youth at risk, so together, we can become a catalyst for change,” Mr Mark said.

“Open Doors Youth Service is an organisation who is passionate about enhancing young people’s connections to family, culture, and community, and giving them hope for their own futures, which is a key focus of our organisation,” Mr Mark said.

“We are delighted to form this new partnership with ODYS.” 

To find out more about Open Doors Youth Service, please visit www.opendoors.net.au 

More older Queenslanders with hearing loss will be able to stay socially connected with the help of a $110,000 Significant Grant and a $110,000 interest-free loan from Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland to Hear and Say, world-leading experts in hearing technology and listening and spoken language therapy.

The capacity-building hand-up will allow Hear and Say to accelerate the growth of their new Adult Hearing and Rehabilitation program, which provides adults with access to technologies such as hearing aids or cochlear implants and skills to manage the everyday impacts of hearing loss.

The funding also supports the social enterprise structure of the Adult Hearing and Rehabilitation program, which sees any surplus funding directed to support Hear and Say’s work with children who are deaf or hard of hearing to hear, listen and speak.

Hear and Say CEO Chris McCarthy said one of the benefits of the funding would be to assist with educating adults on hearing rehabilitation strategies.

“Hearing loss can occur at any age, at any time, and can slowly affect the way you interact with the world,” Mr McCarthy said.

“Living well with hearing loss does not depend exclusively on the use of hearing technologies, and we work to give more adults the skills needed to overcome hearing barriers in their everyday life.

“The program’s social enterprise model will also fill funding gaps for Hear and Say’s not-for-profit programs, which support children who are born deaf and in need.”

Hand Heart Pocket CEO Gary Mark said the initiative was identified as an increasingly urgent cause to support given Australia’s ageing population, and that it supported his organisation’s broader strategy to help improve outcomes for this group.

“Hearing loss is a common condition currently affecting approximately one in six Australians, and with an ageing population, this figure is anticipated to increase to one in four by 2050,” Mr Mark said.

“While our core focus is helping to improve outcomes for youth at risk, our broader strategy also gives us the opportunity to back important initiatives that support our ageing population, men’s mental and physical health and women’s financial and physical security.

“This initiative not only aligned well with our broader strategy but would also benefit our younger generation through Hear and Say’s social enterprise model.”

Hear and Say’s Adult Hearing and Rehabilitation program is currently provided across its centres in Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Toowoomba, and through a dedicated clinic based at AVEO Springfield.

For more information about Hear and Say please visit www.hearandsay.com.au.

Cairns COUCH Cancer Wellness Centre has renewed confidence in their capacity to create a sustainable future supporting Far North Queenslanders affected by cancer and their families, thanks to a $106,000 COVID-19 Emergency Grant announced today from Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland.

The unrestricted funding from Hand Heart Pocket will fill a fundraising shortfall experienced as a result of the economic impact of the Coronavirus pandemic. The grant will also allow the centre to continue providing its telehealth services free of charge during COVID-19, ensuring critical support is provided, in a safe manner, for those who needed it most.

COUCH Wellness Centre Chair Ron Holden said that the grant was a welcome relief since the centre was still in its growth phase.

“Although our past fundraising activities have given us the capacity to provide free telehealth services in the short-term, the local Cairns tourism businesses that support us have been severely impacted by the pandemic,” said Mr Holden.

“This additional financial support for the Wellness Centre means we won’t need to diminish our working capital during this difficult time and gives us renewed confidence in being able to create and sustain a financially secure future for COUCH.”

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said the Freemason 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 around $700,000 in COVID-19 emergency support and Grassroots Community Grants to ensure our existing partners and grassroots charities can continue providing support to the community during the pandemic,” Gary said.

“We were strong supporters of the COUCH Wellness Centre development, providing a half-amillion- dollar grant to see the initial stage of the centre come to fruition.

“The COUCH Wellness Centre provides an essential service for Far North Queensland, and we wanted to ensure that they could meet current needs and continue to improve outcomes for the community over the long-term.”

Photo: COUCH Wellness Centre in Cairns is one of the latest recipients of a COVID-19 Emergency Grant from Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland.

To find out more about COUCH Wellness Centre go to www.couch.org.au

A record number of charities will receive a hand up to continue their important work in the community, as Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland provides close to $700,000 in emergency support and Community Grants in the wake of COVID-19.

COVID-19 Emergency Grants totalling almost $600,000 have been provided to ten charities to help them continue their services and to meet emerging needs as a result of the pandemic. Five of the organisations to benefit are grassroots charities identified by Freemason Lodges. While some of Hand Heart Pocket’s charity partners have received more substantial and flexible support such as Murilla Community Centre in Miles, Vanguard Laundry Services in Toowoomba, Bloomhill Cancer Care on the Sunshine Coast and COUCH Wellness Centre in Cairns.

A further fifteen grassroots charitable initiatives identified by Freemason Lodges will share in just over $120,000 as part of Hand Heart Pocket’s 2020 Grassroots Community Grants round. These grants provide a cash boost of up to $10,000 for qualifying grassroots charitable initiatives identified by Freemason Lodges across Queensland and in Papua New Guinea that support youth at risk, our ageing population, men’s mental and physical health and women’s financial and physical security.

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said the Freemason charity had provided additional funding in the form of COVID-19 Emergency Grants and had increased its funding for its annual Community Grants in response to current community needs.

“We are committed to ensuring our charity partners, as well as grassroots charities, can continue providing support to the community during this challenging time and achieve their planned outcomes over the long-term,” Gary said.

Eight Central West Queensland charities received the lion’s share of funds with just over $200,000 being distributed in this region. One of the COVID-19 Emergency Community Grant recipients, Kaloma Home for the Aged, will purchase equipment such as iPads, to help keep the aged residents connected during this difficult time.

Six Western Queensland charities such as Emerald PCYC and Charleville Neighbourhood Centre received a share in almost $40,000. Emerald PCYC will use its grant to invest in new equipment and fit out a new space to run their enhanced program for at-risk young people on community service orders.

The Wide Bay region was gifted just over $32,000 with three charitable initiatives benefiting including the Royal Flying Doctor Service in Bundaberg, who received a COVID-19 Emergency Grant to purchase equipment and supplies to help reduce the risk for staff and patients during the pandemic.

North Queensland’s Joyful Foundation received $10,000 along with $106,000 in COVID-19 emergency support to COUCH Wellness Centre in the Far North.

Three Sunshine Coast causes shared in almost $210,000 worth of support, including a COVID-19 Emergency Grant to Bloomhill Cancer Care to help them navigate the pandemic.

Hand Heart Pocket’s COVID-19 Emergency Grants will continue to be awarded until the end of June.

“We maintain our commitment to helping our state-wide charity partners during this difficult time and will continue to work with Freemason Lodges to identify grassroots charitable initiatives that require emergency support.”

Find out who we help

Vanguard Laundry Services in Toowoomba can keep people affected by mental illness employed in the wake of COVID-19, thanks to the support of Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland.

A $100,000 COVID-19 Emergency Grant was given by the Freemason charity to the social enterprise commercial laundry so it can continue improving outcomes for people in the region with a lived experience of mental illness.

Since opening its doors, Vanguard Laundry Services has provided jobs and employment pathways for 80 people impacted by mental illness and has helped many of them successfully transition into mainstream work.

Low hotel occupancy as a result of COVID-19 has had a domino effect for Vanguard Laundry Services, with the social enterprise commercial laundry experiencing a reduction in client demand for its services from 52 tonnes of laundry per week to less than eight tonnes per week.

Vanguard Laundry Services Founder Luke Terry said the COVID-19 situation had significantly impacted the laundry’s bottom line, making it very difficult to keep employing people in need.

“The unrestricted COVID-19 Emergency Grant from Hand Heart Pocket will assist us in maintaining critical staff and helping preserve our business during this difficult period,” Mr Terry said.

“Having a mental illness or disability can be a huge barrier to being gainfully employed, but with the right support, we have been able to prove that it is possible to find meaningful employment and enjoy greater independence.

“Without the support of our key partners like Hand Heart Pocket, our sustainable business model would face a significant threat. We are so thankful for this hand up.”

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said the Freemason charity has provided almost $600,000 to date in COVID-19 Emergency Grants and is focused on assisting its existing charity partners and working with Freemason Lodges to increase support at a grassroots level during the Coronavirus pandemic.

“This COVID-19 Emergency Grant is in addition to the $277,500 Significant Grant provided to the laundry in November last year to allow it to take on larger clients and service new contracts, with a view to creating new jobs and an employment pathway for 30 people in the next 12 months,” Mr Mark said.

“Hand Heart Pocket is committed to ensuring its existing charity partners can continue providing support to the community during this challenging time and achieve their planned outcomes over the long-term.

“Vanguard Laundry Services provides an important service for its region, and we are pleased to be able to lend this extra support to help the organisation continue to create employment pathways for people with mental illness.”

Photo: Freemason charity Hand Heart Pocket provides a $100,000 COVID-19 Emergency Grant to charity partner Vanguard Laundry Services in addition to the $277,500 Significant Grant announced to the social enterprise in November last year (pictured).

To find out more about Vanguard Laundry Services go to www.vanguardlaundryservices.com.au

Families in the Western Downs region, who are suffering financial hardship in the wake of COVID-19, can continue to receive emergency assistance from Murilla Community Centre thanks to a COVID-19 Emergency Grant from Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland.

The Freemason charity has granted $36,500 to the Murilla Community Centre in Miles to help people in the region who have been affected by the pandemic to purchase necessities such as food, fuel, pharmaceuticals and toiletries.

The grant is a welcome addition to Murilla Community Centre’s existing emergency relief program, which previously generated most of its funding through a volunteer-run secondhand bookstore. Social distancing regulations meant the store had to close, which has put the emergency relief program in jeopardy at a time when it was needed most.

Murilla Community Centre Manager Cecily Brockhurst said the grant allowed the center to continue to support thousands of Western Downs residents, particularly those who were ineligible for other forms of assistance. It will also help the local economy through the distribution of vouchers to be spent locally.

“We are seeing greater demand for emergency relief in the Western Downs as people lose their jobs or their working hours are reduced because of the Coronavirus. Many are also still suffering from the effects of the drought, so our community is facing some unique economic challenges,” Cecily said.

“We expect a large number of people will need emergency relief while they go through the process of applying for unemployment benefits. This grant will alleviate some of that financial stress and allow us to also provide support for anyone who falls through the cracks and is unable to claim government assistance.”

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said the Freemason 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.

“This COVID-19 Emergency Grant is in addition to the $102,500 Significant Grant provided to the Centre in July last year to purchase a bus and vehicle to ensure the elderly and those with a disability in the community could maintain their independence,” Gary said.

“Hand Heart Pocket is committed to ensuring its existing charity partners can continue providing support to the community during this challenging time and achieve their planned outcomes over the long-term.

“Murilla Community Centre provides an essential service for its region, and we are pleased to be able to to provide this extra support to help them continue to meet the growing community need for emergency relief.”

Photo: Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland has provided a further grant to their charity partners, Murilla Community Centre, to enable their emergency relief program to continue in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. This grant is in addition to the support provided last year for a new bus and vehicle so the centre could help the communities elderly and disabled maintain their independence.  

To find out more about the Murilla Community Centre go to www.mccm.org.au.

 

On the morning of Friday 13 October 2017, four-year-old Mia Wilkinson had been playing happily with her cousins, but complained of a belly ache later that afternoon. By Sunday, she had been admitted into the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) with a diagnosis of sepsis. Mia spent ten days in PICU fighting for her life. The sepsis stopped Mia’s little heart, requiring her to be resuscitated, and rendering her unable to breathe without assistance.

During this period, Mia showed everyone what a tremendous fighter she was when her illness caused blood to stop circulating to both her hands and feet. On 10 November 2017, both Mia’s arms were amputated below the elbow. On 3 January 2018, Mia underwent additional major surgery to amputate both her legs.

Fast forward to today, and the Wilkinsons are adjusting to their new ‘normal’. Mia is a happy, healthy and cheeky little girl. She enjoys swimming lessons, her reading and writing skills have improved, and she has a wonderful and supportive group of friends and teachers at school.

“Mia can move around independently at home now, on her knees, or on a little ride-on toy car. She wears her prosthetic legs for short periods each day and, for the remainder of the time, she uses her wheelchair,” said Amy, Mia’s Mum.

One of the biggest challenges the Wilkinsons faced was that their family home was not adequately equipped to accommodate Mia, following her discharge from the hospital. They couldn’t afford the necessary modifications because of the high ongoing costs associated.

A family friend, Nan Ott, whose husband Alan is a member of Fraser Coast United Lodge suggested that Hand Heart Pocket might be able to assist. Nan made initial contact with Hand Heart Pocket and supported the Wilkinsons with their application.

In 2018 the Wilkinsons received $15,000 in Benevolence Assistance to complete the required modifications on their home. Mia now has a bathroom she can independently access and use. They’ve installed a large, wet shower area and mixer taps so Mia can shower herself without help.

“We also modified the doorway to remove the ‘lip’ between the living and wet area so Mia can ‘zoom’ in and out on her ride-on car. These may not seem like huge modifications to some people, but to us, they mean the world. Without the kindness and support from our local community, including Hand Heart Pocket and the Maryborough Freemasons, this journey would have been terribly lonely, sad and impossible. People have shown us so much overwhelming kindness.”

Over the long-term, Mia will face the challenges of continuing to increase her independence and find new ways for her to complete tasks, such as cooking and driving. She will also require revision surgery as her arm and leg bones grow.

“I am sure she will amaze us, as she already has. Every day we love Mia, cuddle her, hear her laugh, see her develop and we feel grateful she is alive. Instead of seeing what she has ‘lost’ we see what we ‘have’ – a beautiful little girl.”

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said the organisation has helped 60 people doing it tough last financial year through their Benevolence Assistance program.

“It’s always lovely to see people doing well after going through a tough time, especially after having been there for them in their time of need, even in a small way,” he said.

Find out more about Hand Heart Pocket’s philosophy

Townsville Freemason Ron Donnellan was awarded the prestigious Order of Service to Benevolence (OSB) Jewel for his commitment to Masonic charity, in September last year. 

A Freemason of some 48 years, Ron has always set an example for others, giving his time and energy to the community. His positive can-do attitude and compassion for others are what sets him apart. When presenting him with his award late last year, North Queensland District Grand Master Beresford Whyte, commended Ron for his ability to rise above any challenge and for always putting others first.

The retired teacher is probably best known for establishing the Joyful Foundation in memory of his late daughter Joy. Under Ron’s leadership, the organisation has empowered hundreds of disadvantaged primary school students across North Queensland to reach their full potential through the provision of the essentials they need to learn, such as stationery packs. They are also advocates for anti-bullying and promote a more caring environment at schools through the installation of buddy benches.

He is an inspiration to us all. Congratulations Ron!

Photo: North Queensland District Grand Master Beresford Whyte presents Ron Donnellan with his OSB Jewel, in September 2019.

Find out more about Hand Heart Pocket’s philosophy

At Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland, we are very aware that our charity partners and their communities may be facing many challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Building long-term partnerships is important to us, and we want to see our charity partners endure this difficult period and be able to succeed in achieving their planned outcomes over the long-term.

Helping to meet the immediate needs in our communities across Queensland and Papua New Guinea is of utmost importance to us at this time.

We remain committed to providing the $4.25 million in philanthropic support that we have budgeted for this financial year and currently have some budgeted philanthropic funds still available. Our focus for these funds is to:

  • Provide additional support to some of our current and past Significant and Flagship charity partners, where there is the greatest need to ensure important services and programs can continue to be delivered during this difficult time. The need for extra support may be as a result of reduced fundraising or other income due to current health restrictions, an increase in demand for services, or a need to adapt services. Although our refined philanthropic focus is to assist charity partners who support at-risk youth, we will also look to support some current and past charity partners who have the greatest need and are still delivering services at this time. While we will not be able to support every request, we are keen to assist with the grant funding we still have available this financial year where we are able. At this point in time, we will not look to partner with any new charities with which we do not already have a working relationship.
  • Increase our charity work at a grassroots level by supporting important community initiatives identified by our network of Freemason Lodges, where there is an urgent need as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Provide benevolence assistance to individuals who are in extreme need.

To provide our charity partners with some extra reassurance during this time of uncertainty, we would also like to let you know that we are committed to the following:

  • Providing continuity of service – we have made some key changes over the past few weeks to ensure our continuity of service and support. This includes social distancing practices such as moving staff to a virtual working from home environment, virtual meetings, and placing a hold on all work-related travel. We are well placed to provide a continued service to our charity partners, the community and to support the charity work of Freemason Lodges during this difficult period.
  • Exercising flexibility – we understand that these unprecedented times may require your organisation to divert their efforts to more immediate needs. This might mean that projects, programs or services may need to be put on hold, or you may need extra time to formally report back to us. In some exceptional circumstances, our board will also consider requests, on a case by case basis, to redirect granted funds to more immediate and urgent needs. We invite you to have a conversation with us and to maintain open communication channels to keep us abreast of how we can best support your organisation’s needs by exercising flexibility.
  • Maintaining our current commitments - we will maintain our commitment to any new grant recipients that were successful in our latest grant round, of which some are still to be announced.

While there are many challenges that we will face over the coming months, we hope that by working together and maintaining open communication channels, we can continue to improve outcomes for our community over the long-term. 

A Brisbane-based charity working with vulnerable LGBTIQ+ youth, who experience a variety of life challenges, was announced as one of the latest successful grant recipients set to receive a funding injection from Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland.

Open Doors Youth Service (ODYS) who provide more than 2,000 young LGBTIQ+ people each year with support for homelessness, family breakdown, mental health issues and alcohol and drug addiction, will receive an $80,000 Significant Grant from the Freemason charity. The grant will allow ODYS to engage a specialist to help them develop a framework to better understand, measure and manage the impact they are making, and to prepare them to take advantage of future philanthropic funding opportunities.  

Open Doors Youth Service Chief Executive Officer Chris Pickard said the grant was a welcomed boost as the organisation looked to take its services to the next level.

“People who identify as lesbian, bisexual, transgender or gay are at least twice as likely as the general population to experience homelessness at least once in their lifetime, and are at least three times more likely to experience adverse mental health concerns so there’s a real need for support services tailored to helping those who are most at risk,” Mr Pickard said.

“The new framework will allow us to evaluate and redefine our current services, build a stronger foundation for our organisation moving forward, and ultimately, help us to further enrich the lives of young LGBTIQ+ people.”

Hand Heart Pocket CEO Gary Mark said his organisation was committed to helping improve outcomes for the most at risk and vulnerable youth in Queensland.

“We look to partner with other charities and philanthropists whose focus is also youth at risk, so together, we can become a catalyst for change,” Mr Mark said.

“Open Doors Youth Service is an organisation who is passionate about enhancing young people’s connections to family, culture, and community, and giving them hope for their own futures, which is a key focus of our organisation,” Mr Mark said.

“We are delighted to form this new partnership with ODYS.” 

To find out more about Open Doors Youth Service, please visit www.opendoors.net.au 

More older Queenslanders with hearing loss will be able to stay socially connected with the help of a $110,000 Significant Grant and a $110,000 interest-free loan from Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland to Hear and Say, world-leading experts in hearing technology and listening and spoken language therapy.

The capacity-building hand-up will allow Hear and Say to accelerate the growth of their new Adult Hearing and Rehabilitation program, which provides adults with access to technologies such as hearing aids or cochlear implants and skills to manage the everyday impacts of hearing loss.

The funding also supports the social enterprise structure of the Adult Hearing and Rehabilitation program, which sees any surplus funding directed to support Hear and Say’s work with children who are deaf or hard of hearing to hear, listen and speak.

Hear and Say CEO Chris McCarthy said one of the benefits of the funding would be to assist with educating adults on hearing rehabilitation strategies.

“Hearing loss can occur at any age, at any time, and can slowly affect the way you interact with the world,” Mr McCarthy said.

“Living well with hearing loss does not depend exclusively on the use of hearing technologies, and we work to give more adults the skills needed to overcome hearing barriers in their everyday life.

“The program’s social enterprise model will also fill funding gaps for Hear and Say’s not-for-profit programs, which support children who are born deaf and in need.”

Hand Heart Pocket CEO Gary Mark said the initiative was identified as an increasingly urgent cause to support given Australia’s ageing population, and that it supported his organisation’s broader strategy to help improve outcomes for this group.

“Hearing loss is a common condition currently affecting approximately one in six Australians, and with an ageing population, this figure is anticipated to increase to one in four by 2050,” Mr Mark said.

“While our core focus is helping to improve outcomes for youth at risk, our broader strategy also gives us the opportunity to back important initiatives that support our ageing population, men’s mental and physical health and women’s financial and physical security.

“This initiative not only aligned well with our broader strategy but would also benefit our younger generation through Hear and Say’s social enterprise model.”

Hear and Say’s Adult Hearing and Rehabilitation program is currently provided across its centres in Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Toowoomba, and through a dedicated clinic based at AVEO Springfield.

For more information about Hear and Say please visit www.hearandsay.com.au.

Young Queenslanders living with physical or mental health injuries will soon have new pathways to paid or volunteer employment thanks to a grant of almost a half-a-million dollars announced today by Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland.

Brisbane-based charity Happy Paws Happy Hearts is set to receive the funding boost to allow them to establish an Employment Pathways program at Wacol, to service the Greater Brisbane and Ipswich community.

Happy Paws Happy Hearts CEO and co-founder Zoe Black said the new Employment Pathways program would be an extension to their current program, allowing them to achieve even better outcomes for the young people they work with.

“We currently work with people who, due to physical or mental health injuries, have become socially isolated. We re-engage them socially through our revolutionised animal therapy model that brings groups together to learn how to care for and train animals in rescue shelters and wildlife sanctuaries,” Ms Black said.

“The program helps them break down barriers and gives participants new skills, support and the confidence to create their own futures.”

Although the program has been a catalyst for change for many, the organisation hasn’t had the resources to transition young participants who had become job-ready into suitable paid or volunteer employment.

“Many of our young participants grow significantly in their time at Happy Paws Happy Hearts, and it’s fantastic that we will now be able to go that one step further to ensure they achieve longer-lasting outcomes through a structured employment pathway,” Ms Black said.

“The grant from Hand Heart Pocket will help us establish the new Employment Pathways program with a sustainable business model so that as an organisation, we can achieve deeper impact over the long-term.”

Hand Heart Pocket CEO Gary Mark said the grant aligns well with their refined philanthropic focus to help improve outcomes for youth at risk and would give Happy Paws Happy Hearts a significant boost to assist young people to realise their full potential.

“Our refined focus was launched late last year and will see Hand Heart Pocket take a more proactive approach in facilitating better outcomes to meet the needs of contemporary families, by building the right partnerships with charities and other philanthropists who are aligned with our focus on youth at risk,” Mr Mark said.

“We are excited to be partnering with Happy Paws Happy Hearts who are dedicated to providing sustainable outcomes for at risk youth and giving them the opportunity to make proactive decisions about their future.”

To find out more about Happy Paws Happy Hearts please visit www.hphhfoundation.org

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