How to Obtain Relief
Edward W. Hartley, P. M.
Former Representative, Board of Relief, 11th District
The Board of Relief is a committee of the Grand Lodge of Georgia created for the purpose of relieving the distress of its members and their families. This is accomplished in response to an application submitted by the individual in need of relief and is investigated and approved by the District Deputy to the Grand Master of the appropriate sub district and the Worshipful Master of the appropriate Lodge. The process to apply for relief is:
- A Master Mason in good standing with his Lodge in Georgia, his wife, widow or dependent children are qualified to apply for relief by informing the Worshipful Master of the Lodge where the Master Mason is a member. If the Master Mason is sojourning or if the family member does not know the process, any Master Mason may be informed of the need and it then becomes his responsibility to notify the Worshipful Master of his Lodge of the request for relief.
- When notified that a need exists, the Worshipful Master assigns a committee to determine and confirm the need. Each Lodge is responsible for alleviating the needs of its members, so long as the ability so does not impact the finances and resources of the Lodge. If this occurs, the Worshipful Master notifies the District Deputy to the Grand Master of his sub district of the need for relief, and the two of them arrange to meet the individual needing relief. The District Deputy has the form required to document the specifics of the request for relief.
- The 'GRAND LODGE OF GEORGIA DISTRICT DEPUTY GRAND MASTER’S RELIEF REPORT' is an eight-page form. All of the information requested is important and must be entered correctly. Financial data must be complete and totaled correctly. This form is the basis for granting or denying a request for relief and the responsibility for its accuracy depends solely on the parties involved in submitting it to the Board of Relief. Any time assistance is needed, the Board of Relief member representing the particular Masonic District is to be consulted. An incomplete form will delay its processing by the Board of Relief. Each application for relief is important and must be treated with expediency and professionalism. Nothing in the process should be trivialized or delayed. Therefore, it is important that each District Deputy to the Grand Master, Worshipful Master, and Board of Relief representative educate himself in the process before attempting to become an active participant in the case. Following the correct procedure with regard to someone’s request for financial assistance is paramount to obtaining the assistance requested. We, as Master Masons, are all aware of our responsibilities to our Brothers where charity is concerned. We are reminded of this responsibility every time we open and close Lodge. So, no discussion is necessary here except to say that an examination of our own personal involvement in this facet of our Fraternity may be in order. We must know how humbling it would be for us to request financial assistance. Likewise, it is just as humbling for some one to request it of us.
Therefore, as Masons we must be acutely aware of the needs of our Brothers and make the necessary plans to assist them when needed. The Lodge is the appropriate source for this assistance. When the Lodge has exhausted its resources, it is appropriate to turn to the Board of Relief for assistance. However, any assistance provided by the Board of Relief is of a short-term nature and is intended only to gain relief until the recipient can make other arrangement for long-term assistance. This is not to say that there is a fixed amount of relief to be granted or a fixed term to receive relief. Each case is determined on its own merit. Due to the similar nature of the reasons a person may find himself in need of relief, the members of the Board of Relief have all gained valuable experience over the years to guide an applicant for relief to the various resources available to alleviate the problems they are experiencing. These resources include credit counseling, funeral expenses, obtaining prescription drugs, paying hospital and doctor bills, or filing bankruptcy. Just remember that full disclosure to a worthy Brother early, before the need become insurmountable, is the first step to resolving the need. We owe it to ourselves and to our Brothers to be forthcoming with our burden while it is still manageable and to not wait until it becomes a disaster. We must all remember, so far as relief is concerned, as someone has so aptly put it, “There but by the Grace of God, go I.” For further information on this subject consult the Masonic Code, Section 2-207, Board of Relief, or call the Board of Relief Representative in your District and arrange for him to come to your Lodge and speak to the Brethren.
So Mote It Be.
Completed applications are due in the Grand Lodge Office one (1) week prior to Board of Relief Meeting for processing.