Masonry is first and foremost a fraternity rather than a service organization, social club or benevolent society. However, charity in the form of helping other people, is considered to be a cornerstone of the fraternity.
The first step of Freemasonry is what we call the Blue or Craft Lodge. This is where Masons begin their journey in the craft and can later join condordant bodies if they are of interest. Some of these bodies include Shriners, Scottish Rite, York Rite, Knights Templar and many more. However, Craft Lodge has plenty to offer in terms of fellowship and education and many Masons are content to stay involved at this level.
The image below is an illustration of some of the steps that encompass Freemasonry.
The Shriners for example, are a charitable arm of Freemasonry and are committed to community service and have been instrumental in countless public projects throughout their domain. Operating and raising funds for Shriners Children’s hospitals located throughout North America is one of the primary initiatives of this body of Masonry. Other bodies such as York Rite and Scottish Rite delve more into the history of Freemasonry but always have a primary focus on fellowship.
Masons are encouraged to be actively involved in their communities. Some of the community outreach programs that Masons are actively involved with are listed below:
The Masonic Foundation of Ontario, a public charity registered with the Canada Revenue Agency, supports hearing research, a bursary program for university and college students, autism services, prostate cancer research and alcohol and drug awareness programs in elementary and high schools.
The Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario sponsors the MasoniCh.I.P. child identification program. And we’re not above bleeding for a cause—every year, Ontario Masons support the Canadian Blood Services donor program with approximately 35,000 donations.
Shriners operate the largest network of hospitals in North America providing free care for burned and orthopaedically impaired children. The Scottish Rite Masons maintain a network of some 150 childhood language disorder clinics, centres and programs.
Individual districts support their own charitable projects.