Who are the Shriners? The Shrine of North America is known for its colorful parades, circuses and clowns. But there is also a serious side to this international fraternity of approximately 500,000 men belonging to 191 Shrine Temples, or chapters throughout North America. Since 1922, the Shrine has operated a network of specialized hospitals that treat children with orthopedic problems, burns, and spinal cord injuries up to their 18th birthday, free of charge.
The Shrine was founded in 1872 by a group of 13 men belonging to the Masonic Order. It was originally established to provide fun and fellowship for its members. But as the organization grew, its members decided to dedicate their efforts to helping others by establishing an official Shrine philanthropy — a network of specialized hospitals that have provided expert medical care to more than one million children.
Shrine charities have been cited a number of times as the most efficient health charity in the United States. Since the first Shriners Hospital opened in 1922, the Shrine has supported what has come to be known as the "World's Greatest Philanthropy."
The best known symbol of Shrinedom is the distinctive red fez that Shriners wear at official functions. Because Shriners are men who enjoy life, fun is a large part of the Shrine and the activities that help support the Shrine's philanthropy. Most Shrine Temples sponsor Shrine Clubs and special units, such as the motor corps, band or clown units and many other units of interest. They share in the camaraderie, deep friendships and good fellowship that are all part of being a Shriner.
The fire service has always been a great support to Shriners. The IAFF Burn Foundation has partnered with SHC – Boston for the past two years to sponsor the New England Walk for Burn Awareness fundraiser. This year's event raised $30,000.00 from sponsorships and donations. In addition, many local fire houses are running boot drives at 4th of July and other events throughout the year to support Shriners Hospitals for Children- Boston. The Sudbury firefighters raised over $5,300 for the care of the patients at Shriners.
Let me urge you to contact the Shriners to see if there is any way that you or your fire/EMS agency can be of assistance. I want you to know about the range of charitable care which is available at Shriners Hospitals. Like the title suggests, it is more than just burn treatment.
My friends at the Boston Shriners Hospital for Children would like to invite those in the fire service to visit the Boston Shriners Hospital for Children or a Shiners hospital in your region. They would also like to invite you to support their hospital and the children that they treat. If anyone is interested in donating or sponsoring an event please contact them at BOS_PR@shrinenet.org or 617-371-4883.
Your knowledge can make the all of the difference in the world during a critical life and death time when a quick trip to the Shriners Children's Hospital can make all the difference in the world. Let me urge you to learn as much as you can.
HARRY R. CARTER, Ph.D., CFO, MIFireE, a Firehouse.com Contributing Editor, is a municipal fire protection consultant based in Adelphia, NJ. Dr. Carter retired from the Newark, NJ, Fire Department and is a past chief and active life member of the Adelphia Fire Company. Follow Harry on his A View From my Front Porch blog. He recently published several texts, including Leadership: A View from the Trenches and Living My Dream: Dr. Harry Carter's 2006 FIRE Act Road Trip. You can reach Harry by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.