One of the most gratifying, and humbling things that has come my way in my 65+ years has been to be a member of the Board of Governors of the Shrine Children's Hospital organization. I represent the Shriners for State of New Mexico, and attend meetings at the Los Angeles, Shrine Children's Hospital every month. What a fine group of men this board consists of and the hospital staff impresses us with their compassion for kids at every meeting.
This organization, in 90 years, has managed to provide medical treatment for thousands of children, and during that period of time, has pledged never to charge a child (or their parents) for hospital or medical treatment. In a recent event, between IHOP , the Shriners across USA were present as IHOP gave a free short stack of pancakes for free, if their customers would give a contribution to the Shrine Hospital fund. I stood at an IHOP and person after person came to me and said: "The Shrine Hospitals saved my child" or "The Shrine Hospitals took my nephew and gave him new legs".
We were there just to greet people and let them see that Shriners were ordinary neighbors, just interested in helping kids. We raised money, nation wide, but the real reward for most of us was the grateful expressions of thanks that came our way, because of the decades of good work this group has done. At my side was a corporate executive, who had a salary in six figures, yet, he was devoting his day, to stand at a pancake house to help raise money for "our Shrine Hospital kids".
IT'S ALL ABOUT THE KIDS
Now I must admit to you, that I normally am not much of a "joiner". But I have had professional experience, appraising and doing environmental and feasibility studies for hospitals in our appraisal business. So being a part of this group of men, running "non profit" hospitals, has lifted my spirits and given me renewed appreciation for men and women of good will and generous hearts. It has allowed me to use some professional expertise to help a charitable entity. We are so blessed in the USA to have the Shrine organization. I have sat in these board meetings and seen these men discus kids from every social class, every race and multiple nationalities, and always say..."It is all about the kids, let's help them."
Recently we had a child from Afghanistan, who had been injured by bombs in his village. That child was flown to the USA, and given new legs, at no charge by the Shrine Hospitals. Why? Not for propaganda, but because a child was in need of help and we decided that was all of the qualification that was required.
"RED AND YELLOW BLACK AND WHITE , THEY ARE PRECIOUS IN HIS SIGHT" was the words of a song we were taught in my Sunday school class when I was a child. Our churches taught this and I have discovered that the Shriners practice this ethic.
So, when you hear of a child in need, whether from a rich family or a poor one. Whether from Mexico, Ecuador or the USA. Remember the Shriners. We have 22 hospitals, coast to coast, and our devotion is to kids. To that end, we raise millions of dollars a year. Those of us who work and raise money and serve on these boards, all do it at our own expense. The money we raise is all to pay for treating the kids and keeping our hospitals running well.
Our nurses, staff and doctors are some of the best. The Los Angeles hospital has a board Chairman, Larry Adamson, who raises hundreds of thousands of dollars a year "for the kids". The Chief of Staff, Dr. Kit Song is brilliant in making the hospital work for kids. The nurses and therapists can probably make more money at other hospitals, but they love the work of the Shriners. They are hired on the basis of their love for children as well as professional skills. When we treat a child, we don't roll them out in a wheelchair with an "Adios" and a big bill. We walk with them, on their own two legs and these kids are a part of our family until they become adults. A Shrine Kid, is a part of our family, and we stay in touch and keep a relationship with these kids and their parents for years. They are never sent a bill. The Shrine Board of Governors "at work" in this photo has voted to build yet a new hospital in Pasadena "for the kids".
The new California hospital will be one of the most modern facilities for treating children, in the nation and could be complete within 24 months. It is being designed to coordinate with a new diversified "children's Clinic system" which will have small diagnostic and treatment centers throughout the nation, to save families the hardship of travelling so far for treatment.
On the home front, Shrine members like Joe Lamphere an electrician or Cary Culbertson a realtor or Judge Jay Harris in Las Vegas, New Mexico or Joe Alvarado of Las Vegas, Nevada are the type of people who make things happen. They go out and help with circus acts, sell pancakes, wash cars, march in parades, sell onions and host rock bands to raise money, do it free, donating time and money. More importantly, we donate our wit, intelligence and lives to helping these kids. Perhaps your child, or grandchild or a friend or associate's child will need help some day. Remember, we are there for them. Our gift is the joy and satisfaction of helping kids get a "leg up" in this world. Look up the Shrine Children's Hospitals on the internet. I think you will be impressed with this good organization.
Large photo above of Ben B. Boothe, Sr., at a Shrine Hospital Board meeting.