Over the past 40 years, the Masonic Foundation of Ontario and the Masons in this jurisdiction have proudly contributed to the success of many programs in our communities.
On March 25,1964, Royal Assent was given by the Provincial Legislature of Ontario to a Private Member’s Bill, creating “The Masonic Foundation of Ontario Act, 1964", which is significant, given that most private, not for profit charitable foundations are created by incorporation, not legislation.
From an initial “seed” grant of $100,000 from our Grand Lodge in 1964, the capital base of the MFO has g`rown to over $10,000,000 in 2008. However, the MFO is NOT a committee of the Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario. It is governed by a volunteer 15-member Board of Directors, who enjoy the support of two paid employees, a Corporate Secretary and an Assistant.
The base has grown due to our planned activities over the years. The MFO has launched three highly successful fund-raising campaigns. HELP (Hearing for Every Living Person) in 1978-79 (marking the 125th Anniversary of our Grand Lodge in 1980) which raised in excess of $620,000; Help Nip Drugs in the Bud was launched in 1988-89 marking the 25th Anniversary of the MFO and raised $1,171,000; Help-2-Hear was the Grand Lodge and MFO’s Millennium Project and raised in excess of $2,200,000.
In addition, donations are received annually through Yellow and Grey Envelopes, Bequests, Memoriams, life insurance policies, stocks and investment income.
At least 80% of donations received must be disbursed on charity. By Mission Statement: disbursements must be only for charitable purposes and only in Ontario. Recipients are not required to have Masonic connection. Since 1964, cumulative donations through the Foundation Programs have exceeded $7,670,000.
This does not include the several million dollars that are channeled every year through the Foundation for community benefitting District Projects. In recent years our district has supported Variety Village, Windreach Farms and Autism Ontario. It is noteworthy that during the Sesquicentennial Celebrations of our Grand Lodge in 2005-06, $781,000 was collected and directed to worthwhile local projects across the province.
In 2007-08 the MFO established a new policy to boost all registered District Projects, and now provide an additional 10% of funds collected to a maximum of $1,000.
Furthermore, last year the MFO took a significant step away from its more “traditional” project support by committing $15,000 per year for 3 years to the da Vinci Surgical Robotic System at St Joseph’s Health Care in London. This thrust, in the area of prostate cancer and emerging minimally invasive surgery, is complementary to our Grand Master’s Personal Project in support of Prostate Cancer Research-Early Detection and Awareness.
For nearly 30 years the MFO has supported Dr Robert Harrison and the Auditory Science Laboratory at Sick Kids in Toronto in pursuing significant basic and applied hearing research (auto-acoustic emissions, cochlear implants, universal hearing screening) contributing in excess of $2,000,000! SickKids this past year honoured these incredibly impactful contributions by Masons and publicized us as Donor of The Week.
Under Help-2-Hear, our Millennium Project, assistance is being directed at research at SickKids in Toronto (Dr Robert Harrison), University of Western Ontario in London (Dr Richard Seewald) and at the University of Ottawa (Dr Andree Durieux-Smith). We have completed 7 years of assistance at $35,000 per project per year, totaling $735,000 and more details of this research are found in our Annual Reports.
Help Nip Drugs in the Bud was the MFO’s proactive foray into the growing ‘epidemic’ of alcohol and drug abuse in the school system. Since 1990, the MFO has contributed more than $1,600,000 towards training over 7,000 peer leaders from over 200 schools in Ontario with an impact on thousands and thousands of students in Grade 8 and above. The two primary vehicles for delivering the program was achieved through Parent Action on Drugs (PAD) and CODA (Council on Drug Abuse).
Since 1981, the MFO has contributed over $310,000 to help Kerry’s Place (Autism Services) fight autism. As well, since 1981, the MFO has contributed over $320,000 in support of the Auditory Verbal Therapy programs of VOICE.
Each year, the MFO provides small donations of $3-4,000 to several youth groups in Ontario for specific projects: Scouts Ontario, Girl Guides of Canada (Ontario), Canadian 4-H Council and Order of Demolay.
Also, since 1965, the flagship MFO Bursaries Program has helped over 3,350 students complete their studies and realize their dreams…..through donations in excess of $2,245,000. This is a tangible and compelling investment in the future of Ontario through the MFO, the Mason’s Charity of Choice for the cause of good.
If you need more information, clarification and detail, it is readily available in the Annual Reports of the MFO - and its early history is recalled in the book “For the Cause of Good 1964-1989". If you have specific questions, please do not hesitate to contact me or Mel Duke at the MFO offices in Hamilton.
These are the programs the MFO support and links to their sites: Health Services • Hospital for Sick Children's Auditory Science Lab • Kerry's Place Autism Services • VOICE for Hearing Impaired Children Youth Programs • Council on Drug Abuse • Parent Action on Drugs Youth Organizations • Canadian 4-H Clubs • DeMolay • Girl Guides of Canada • Scouts Canada