Since 1844, the members of St. James Lodge, through their acts of charity, have exemplified the Masonic teachings of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth. In 1845 the Lodge donated $41.50 ($1,358 today) to an orphan school in Missouri and $50.00 ($1,637 today) for a scholarship in Kentucky. In 1849, another $50.00 was donated to fire victims in Baton Rouge. In 1850, the body of a deceased brother was escorted to Memphis by boat by two members of the Lodge at a cost of $53.50 ($1,774 today) . The minutes record many occasions when a widow’s taxes were paid in order to save her house from being repossessed. Mrs. Joseph W. Fowler, whose husband had passed away on May 5, 1849, received monthly payments from the Lodge for several years until her death in 1921. Payments were continued even after she moved her residence to Texas. Many advances made to brothers in financial and physical distress were written off when their circumstances did not improve. It was customary for the Lodge to pay the funeral expenses of its members. For the funeral of Capt. Reeder, the first Master of the Lodge, in 1873, the bill was $114.00 ($2,457 today) . A year later, his widow’s rent was paid by the Lodge for several months.
Calls for help from Arkansas, Mississippi, Michigan, Nebraska, South Carolina, New York, France, China and Italy were answered even when the Lodge’s finances were in a precarious state. Two instances in particular give us a sense of the times. In April 1906 the Lodge sent $50.00 to earthquake victims in San Francisco, only to receive $10.00 back two years later with the explanation that all the money received by the Grand Lodge of California was not expended. A donation of $150.00 made to the Square and Compass Club at Louisiana State University to help them get started was returned in July 1938, because it was not used. During 1923, separate donations of $1,000.00 and $500.00 were made to the YMCA in Baton Rouge. More recently, a van was donated to the Baton Rouge General Hospital in 1979 for use as a Bloodmobile. Other recent recipients of donations include Dreams Come True, Baton Rouge Battered Women’s Program and Baton Rouge Child Protection Council.
The Grand Lodge of Louisiana adopted a resolution, in 1998, establishing a dyslexia training program for children as its primary philanthropy. At this time, the Grand Lodge also authorized the establishment of a pilot program at 5800 Masonic Drive, Alexandria. The Grand Lodge expanded the program in 1999, and units are now in operation in every part of Louisiana. The dyslexia instructional classes are small to ensure students receive the attention they need. Each class is held after school hours, five days a week, except for holidays.
Information and application forms are available at the Grand Lodge of Louisiana website. You may also contact any active Louisiana Mason or Call the office of the Masonic Learning Center of Louisiana (318) 487-4986.