The families of Maine infantrymen will receive critical assistance through the generous support that Bangor-area Masons are giving the Maine Infantry Foundation Charities.
Several members of the Maine Army National Guard started the Maine Infantry Foundation in July 2009, according to Bangor resident Darryl Lyon. He belongs to the Masonic Order’s St. Andrew’s Lodge and serves with the Maine Army Guard.
Among the projects started by MIF members is a Maine Infantry Museum, currently under construction at the Brewer Armory. A combination conference room and museum, “it’s a memorial to every Maine infantryman,” Lyon said.
Foundation members also established the non-profit MIF Charities after “we found that people wanted to donate to assist soldiers’ families,” he said. “It’s for any soldier who’s in need. We see it at almost every drill; soldiers and their families may be going through a hard time, and we want to help them.”
According to Lyon, MIF Charities serves three purposes: meeting emergency needs, providing scholar-ships for soldiers and their family members; and community outreach. The last purpose will be met by opening the Maine Infantry Museum for public use; the first two purposes are dependent on donations made to MIF Charities.
Local Masons are stepping forward to financially support the organization. Twelve local Masonic lodges comprise the 6th Masonic District in Maine, and lodge officers “belong to the 6th District Officers Association,” said Hermon resident Russ Maynard. He is the junior warden of St. Andrew’s Lodge in Bangor.
The officers’ association meets monthly. During a February 2012 meeting, “we discussed something that we could do as an officers’ association to benefit the community,” Maynard said.
Lyon recalled that Randy Elliot, who belongs to the Mechanics’ Lodge in Orono, “said, ‘Hey, we should do something for veterans.’”
“I asked Darryl [Lyon] if the veterans needed anything,” Maynard said. “He mentioned the Maine Infantry Foundation Charities.”
The 6th District Officers Association members decided that supporting the MIF Charities “is something we’re excited about,” Maynard said. Officers then presented the idea at their local lodge meetings.
During a Feb. 23 St. Andrew’s Lodge meeting held in Bangor, members unanimously approved Maynard’s motion that the lodge donate $500 to MIF Charities. Elliot made a similar motion during a recent Mechanics’ Lodge meeting, and members also voted to support the charitable fund.
According to Maynard, each lodge donation was matched by the Masonic Charitable Foundation of the Grand Lodge of Maine, of which Elliot is the grand junior warden. Maynard is the Grand Lodge’s grand junior deacon.
With the matching donations, St. Andrew’s Lodge and Mechanics’ Lodge will each give $1,000 to the Maine Infantry Foundation Charities. The 115-member Mechanics’ Lodge presented its check on Feb. 15. “The lodge has funds that we can use for any purpose,” Elliot said. “This was a worthwhile event.
“We just couldn’t stand by and let it go. We have two wars going on right now,” he said. “These people are defending us. It’s a huge debt of gratitude that we owe them. We made it a priority.
“We have a few members of the National Guard who belong to our lodge. They shouldn’t have to worry if a wife or a husband has enough money for food or fuel oil,” Elliot said. “The funds raised here can help our soldiers’ families.”
The donations will continue this spring as “other lodges in this area are starting to do it as well,” Maynard said.
St. Andrew’s Lodge members will present a $1,000 check to MIF Charities during a March 31 benefit dinner being held at the Bangor Masonic Center on Seminary Hill. That dinner will raise funds to improve the facility’s kitchen.
Bangor-area Masons are also selling raffle tickets to raise funds for memorials honoring two Maine Army Guardsmen killed by a roadside bombing in Iraq on May 6, 2006. The granite memorials will be placed at the Maine Infantry Museum in honor of Staff Sgt. Dale J. Kelly Jr. and Staff Sgt. David Veverka. Both soldiers were assigned to Co. B, 3rd Battalion, 172nd Infantry (Mountain) Regiment; the company is based at the Brewer Armory.
The raffle winner has a choice of prizes: a kayak, 100 gallons of heating oil, or a .270 Weatherby rifle. “Ticket sales have been phenomenal,” said Maynard, a nine-year Army veteran employed as an air traffic controller at Bangor International Airport.
“I’ve sold a lot of raffle tickets in my time, and these by far are the easiest I’ve ever sold,” he said.
To purchase a raffle ticket, contact a Bangor-area Mason or contact Maynard at (207) 409-6904. The raffle drawing will take place in May during the Grand Lodge of Maine convention in Bangor.
To learn more about Maine Infantry Foundation Charities, log onto www.maineinfantryfoundation.org.