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September 10, 2021

"Brother I see your lights. Help is on the way":

Masons come together in District 11 to bring aid
and relief to those distressed by Hurricane Ida.

by Brother Thomas Bush, 11th Masonic District Lodge Treasurer

Donald Bush and I, with the blessing of Grand Lodge, the 11th Masonic District, and Hope Lodge No. 145 decoded to help after those areas were ravaged by Hurricane Ida.  We spoke with the MWB Steve Pence, Grand Secretary, to get the Grand Lodge's blessing, With the help of Kris Potier, 11th District Secretary, Right Worshipful Brother Walton Theall DDGM, Worshipful Brother Bill Geer, Worshipful Master of Hope Lodge No. 145 (who authorized the use of Hope Lodge as a collection point), and Brother Donald Bush, Junior Warden of Hope Lodge No. 145, we began to campaign for funds to accomplish supply runs to the area. By Tuesday, August 31st, a plan was in place to raise funds and purchase items, or get items donated, to send to the Golden Meadow and Houma areas.  

Through coordination with Blaise Smith, Worshipful Master of Franklin Lodge No. 57, Earl Toups Past D.D.G.M. of the 11th District, Brother Jay Pitre, Bro Lonny Babin, and several other brothers throughout the affected area.  Bro. Pitre has been generous enough to help stage and distribute supplies to those in need throughout Cutoff, Golden Meadow and Grand Isle.  

The first trip down was tasked with meeting some basic needs.  We acquired and delivered 2 pallets of drinking water, 275 gallons of non potable water, 105 gallons of fuel, 10 cases of Vienna Sausage, 5 cases of Spam, misc donated canned goods, tarps, paper towels, toilet paper and 2700 baby wipes in 50 sheet packs.  All items except the misc canned goods and tarps were sourced from monies raised.  This delivery was made last week, on September 4th, 2021.  At the time of this writing (September 8,2021) a second delivery was being made by Bro. Donald Bush and Bro. Crosby Richardson of Hope No. 145 that included the following: 3 pallets of water, 185 gallons of gas, 110 rolls of toilet paper (purchase limit), 45 rolls of paper towels (purchase limits), approximately 1000 individual packs of food items such as granola bars, spam, Vienna sausage, canned chicken breast, crackers, chips, Welsh’s fruit snacks, Cheese Its etc...also some misc donated canned goods.  We will coordinate another delivery in the coming days.  More food and fuel.

Pallets of supplies and relief on its way to areas affected the worst by Hurricane Ida.

I helped to source and acquire supplies needed for the Abbeville and Gueydan lodges to go down and cook a Jambalaya for 700 people.  We had to source supplies from Lake Charles to accomplish this.  I met with the brothers, who I will miss several names, to deliver the acquired materials Saturday, September 4th, where they were preparing to cook.  Bro. Earl Toups, Bro. Walton Theall, Bro. Butch, Bro. Robert Bufford, Bro. Tony Mire, Bro. Cabbage, and several other brothers.  Bro. Stuart Averitt (Hope Lodge) acquired the bread and vegetables to go with the meal.  Bro. Tony Mire came to Hope Lodge's stated meeting on September 7th, and reported that the meal cook and distribution was a huge success, and they plan on doing two more cooks in the coming weeks. Feedback included "thanks for the first hot meal in days".  

Brothers come together to make Jambalaya, and provide many with their first hot meal in days.

There are several local suppliers and people that should be recognized.  The Costco General Manager in Lafayette, Misty, who was more than happy to help us find a cost effective way to buy bulk water in the middle of a busy Saturday morning. She took her time to talk with us, and explain the rules of the road with the shortages.  We could not have made these runs without her help. Evangeline Maid bread company who donated 119 loaves of bread for the Jambalaya plates (coordinated by Bro Stuart Averrit of Hope Lodge). The owner of the Welcome Shell station in Lafayette on Hwy. 167, who was gracious enough to allow us to buy around 290 gallons of fuel in bulk during a supply shortage, because he felt the need was immediate. (He also told me not to include his name in this because in India they have a saying that "you throw charity in the river”, which means you do charity but you don’t ask for thanks. Many other companies and individuals continue to come forward to aid and assist our communities in need and the list is growing daily. Hope Lodge No. 145 will be accepting donations by appointment and we are having a donation drive at the lodge next Saturday 9/18/21.  Times to be announced.  

For myself, I have a couple points I would like to make:  First this is not one lodge doing this.  This is the entire 11th Masonic District, and beyond.  We have gotten donations from several lodges, and the outpouring of support for this endeavor is humbling.  Donald and I want to thank all of the brothers involved from the bottom of our hearts.  This experience, while still new, is guiding us on a path to find a way to help those affected as this disaster continues to progress.  

Donald and I, on April 11th of 2019, along with my son Jason and a good friend Ahmad, were working in the Houma area. At 11:05 a.m. we were involved in a deadly car wreck where we rolled 2.5 times at 40mph.  Ahmad was killed instantly, Jason had his leg broken, both bones on his right lower leg he now has a rod in, Donald got his shoulders torn up, and I broke my right arm which now has three plates and fourteen screws, and a finger with three pins, a concussion, and some really bad damage to my back.   I was stuck in the truck because my seatbelt broke.  I will never forget the first words I heard from the state trooper when he arrived on scene, “Brother, I see your lights, help is on the way”.  Oh boy was help on the way, I was told that brothers left work to come help.  That is Masonry, that is the Fraternity.  That is love for your fellow man, and that is the example we as Masons must strive to achieve.  Amid all of the chaos and blood, “Brother, I see your lights, Help is on the way.”  I don’t know that officer.  He came to New Orleans to check on us later.  I barely remember because I was whacked out on Morphine. But he took time from his life to come an hour's drive to see us, and tell us good luck and make sure we would be okay.  I remember praying with him briefly before I passed out again.  I have never gotten the opportunity to travel to those lodges in Houma to thank those heroic brothers.  But now with the unfortunate circumstance I can say "Brother I see your lights.  Help is on the way."  

May you all be blessed, and may all Louisiana Free and Accepted Masons feel and show love to each other, and to our communities. 

The 3Cs Rule of The Louisiana Freemason

by Brother Gar Pickering, Editor
If you do not
you should not Complain
about the Casseroles.

That is the "3Cs Rule" I just invented. It is tongue-in-cheek, sure, but it contains some truth. I am grateful for the Masons who have contributed to "The Louisiana Freemason" over the past two+ years that I have been working directly on it. The eEdition contributions have picked up and if it were not for those handful of lodges/Masons sending in photos from installations, award ceremonies, or working in the community, there wouldn't be anything to add in the Tidings from Louisiana Lodges segment, literally. On occasion I get an essay from a Louisiana Mason to read and consider for publication in the eEditions, or in the (annual-by-default) main issue(s) through the year. Those are a treasure, because without them, there would be no main issue(s) to be had. That said, however, publishing the same few writers over-and-over isn't what the magazine is there for. There have been two (digital) Summer issues planned over the past two years that couldn't come to fruition for lack of content. There were three or more years where nothing was being published; mostly for lack of content. The two printed (Spring 20/Spring 21) issues we have published have had some great content, but without the resolutions, they would have been about 10 pages long. Last year I put out the call for men in every lodge to step up and appoint themselves as their lodge's "Official Louisiana Freemason Correspondent". I even offered to give something back to the ones who contribute regularly and frequently. That program died on the vine.

To the men who have sent me things fairly regularly, I am truly grateful (they know who they are), but there has to be more. Every one of us has a production studio in our pockets today. Novels have been written with a cell phone. If you are reading this and you're inspired to do something about it, I humbly ask that you follow through with it. Take photos, get names, write it up, and email it to me ( If you want to write on history or symbolism, or anything relevant to Freemasonry, write it up. If it needs work, I'll help you get it there if there's something to it.

There are some Masons who only show up for the casseroles, some who show up hoping something changed, and even more who eat the casserole only to complain about it. Then there are the ones turning on the lights, heating up the oven, airing out the building, cooking the casserole, serving the food, learning the work, and conferring the degrees. There are some lodges I imagine that only have casseroles and little more...I don't want the eEdition to just be pictures of a casserole, and I don't think you, the reader, wants that either. Spread the word brethren, advocate in lodge for it if you yourself don't feel like you can contribute. There may be someone who can do it that doesn't know it is needed.

This isn't a complaint on my part, but a call-to-arms. "The Louisiana Freemason" is an 80 year old magazine brand. It's not mine, or the Grand Masters, or even Steve Pence' is ours. It will take all of us to keep it going because a handful of us can't do it alone. So, for "The Louisiana Freemason", and to the Grand Lodge of Louisiana, I say, it's up to us to keep it going, and not just for the casseroles. Huzzah.

Click Here for the recipe for the Green Bean Casserole pictured above.


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