There’s something incredibly powerful and energising about visiting the communities and meeting with the groups who put out support into action. That was confirmed when representatives of Freemasons Foundation Victoria (FFV) took to the road and spent time in Shepparton and Cohuna in Northern Victoria in March 2022 to touch base and explore opportunities for continued support.
Chair of Directors Rodney Lavin JP, Deputy Chair Philip Mayers AM and Executive Officer Neil Cripps hosted events celebrating the charitable work that Freemasons have achieved in these communities, and paid visits to a number of local organisations that had benefited from FFV’s support.
Since November 2014 in the Shepparton region, FFV has assisted the local Freemason Lodges with their charitable work and distributed $130,000 to local charities including Shepparton Food Share, 1st North Shepparton Scouts and Riding for the Disabled. Most recently, FFV announced a $46,350 grant to Dungala Kaiela Foundation. A day spent with these organisations illustrated how important this support is, and how meaningful these initiatives are for the vibrant community of Shepparton.
At Riding for the Disabled, the group was shown their new amenities block. FFV supported the 2021 project with $17,500 in funding, along with further funding from Freemasons of Lodge Eshcol, Cobram Lodge and Goulburn Murray Masonic Club. The Tallygaroopna Men’s Shed built the structure, which is a vast improvement on previous facilities which were prone to flooding. Now volunteers, program participants and parents/carers have comfortable easily accessible bathrooms. As Rodney commented, it’s not the most exciting project to tour, but nobody can dispute the importance of safe and accessible facilities on this site!
Following morning tea with the RDA volunteers (thank you!), the group went on to the Rumbalara Football Netball Club to present a cheque to the Dungala Kaiela Foundation. The community grant of $46,350 will support 15 local Yorta Yorta students to enrol in the Academy of Sport, Health and Education (ASHE). ASHE offers VCAL, Certificates in Community Services, and a Diploma of Nursing, and its delivered as a partnership between the Rumbalara Football Netball Club, University of Melbourne, and GoTafe.
“The Freemason’s have a long history of helping people. We like to give people a leg up, particularly young people. Education is very important to us,” said Rodney Lavin.
As part of the visit, the group enjoyed a tour of the Rumbalara clubhouse and the spectacular living history wall.
At Parklake Shepparton, the group had lunch with 50 guests including local Freemasons and partners and representatives of local charities. Neil Cripps and Rodney Lavin delivered a presentation about the Foundation’s work, during which Rod announced a surprise donation of $10,000 to Shepparton Food Share.
After lunch, Neil Cripps and Deputy Chair Philip Mayers AM visited the warehouse and had a tour of the facilities. Foodshare Chair Jeremy Rensford shared their challenges in attracting and retaining volunteers and noted that they were looking for a new premises. The $10,000 from FFV will go towards their ‘forever home’ and help ensure the service is sustainable.
The second day of the trip saw Neil and Philip head on to Cohuna, another regional spot where Freemasons are very active in the community. FFV has supported the Cohuna Lodge with funding towards a number of great projects and causes.
Cohuna Lodge has also been successful in securing FFV funding totalling $32,390 to support the Cohuna Secondary College Chaplaincy Foundation, the District Hospital, Cohuna Retirement Village Leitchville Senior Citizens Club and most recently the Gannawarra Memorial Toy Run.
Another lunch event hosted at the Cohuna Lodge was a fantastic opportunity to hear from nine different not-for-profit organisations that operate in the area about the work they do and services they provide.
FFV hopes to continue supporting important services and groups like these in Shepparton and Cohuna through the generosity of Victorian Freemasons and public donors, and careful investment of their funds.
If you would like to support this work, you can make a donation here.