Order of the Eastern Star strives to take care of peopleJun 22, 2017 10:34AM ● By Ruth Hendricks
Betsy Jones and Nancy Strader donated more than 100 stuffed animals to Mayor JoAnn Seghini and Police Chief Jason Mazuran during a city council meeting. (Ruth Hendricks/City Journals)
By Ruth Hendricks | [email protected]
Betsy Jones, leader of the local Order of the Eastern Star organization, and her sister Nancy Strader presented more than 100 stuffed animals to the Midvale City Council at the May 16 meeting.
Mayor Joann Seghini thanked them and suggested the animals be given to the police department for children in crisis, noting that it helps these children to have something comforting to hold on to. Police Chief Jason Mazuran accepted the donation and said he would give some to a victim’s advocate group as well.
The Order of the Eastern Star is an auxiliary of the Masons which men and women can join. “George Washington was a Mason,” said Strader, “as were Brigham Young and Joseph Smith.”
The Order of the Eastern Star was established in 1850 by Rob Morris who was a Mason, which is an organization for men only. Morris and his wife Charlotte thought that it would be good for female relatives of Masons to share the benefits of knowledge and self-improvement that Freemasonry made available to men, and to let men and women participate together.
Jones said, “I always say that Morris probably started it because the men were going to meetings all the time and left the women home with the kids, and they whined and griped to the men until Morris decided to shut them up and start their own chapter.”
Strader explained that women age 18 and older can join the Order of the Eastern Star if there is some Masonic relationship, such as being an immediate family member or farther out to in-laws, step-relations or cousins. Men can join if they are Master Masons. Jones is currently the president, which is called the Worthy Matron, of the Martha chapter of the Eastern Star. “Martha chapter is 107 years old,” said Strader. They celebrated this in May.
Eastern Star is an international organization with chapters in places such as South America, Europe, New Zealand, Japan, Mexico, and Canada. In the US there are the local chapters, the state chapters and a national chapter. The General Grand Chapter is worldwide. The order is dedicated to the ideals of charity, truth and loving kindness.
There are also youth groups to teach love of family, God and country, and to train young people for future leadership roles. Job’s Daughters is for girls ages 10 to 20, and the Order of DeMolay is for boys ages 12 to 21.
The building in Midvale where the order meets houses two Masonic lodges, three Eastern Star chapters, the two youth organizations, and a group called York Rite. Each chapter has a banner in the main meeting room.
When asked why they wanted to join the order, Strader said, “I joined because it was part of the family. I wanted to belong because they do a lot of good.” Jones, who is a sister to Strader, said “Our mother belonged and our grandmother. My husband’s parents were both active in Missouri.” Jones emphasized that, “One of the main things we believe in is that you treat people well and take care of them.”
Jones also noted that, “We are not a religion, but there has to be a holy book on our altar. It can be the Bible, it can be the Koran. It can be whatever the members want.” Strader added that members have to believe in a supreme being, but it can be any religion. Eastern Star’s principles are based on the accomplishments of women in the Bible. It used to be a secret organization, but there is nothing secret anymore.
Giving the stuffed animals to the city is just one of many philanthropic gifts from the Eastern Star. Some of the things Martha chapter has done in the past include supplying diapers and clothes to a children’s home, giving donations to the Midvale Road Home shelter, and gathering hygiene items for battered women’s shelters. “We try and give to this area since we’ve been in this area,” Jones said.
Another cause they support is the Shrine Hospital Transportation Fund which brings children and parents from across the country, even Mexico, to go to the Shriner’s hospital. Eastern Star also has a scholarship fund.
A few years ago, the statewide group bought bulletproof vests for police dogs. “They are expensive,” said Strader. “I think we raised enough money for three of them. One went to St. George, since they raised some of the money.”
The bottom line for these women is to follow the golden rule and help others. “I don’t like to use the word ‘charity’ much anymore. It has a bad connotation,” said Jones. “There were too many socialites in the past that were ‘charitable’ people, and they just did it for the name. It wasn’t really done in love. And we like to think of charity as love.”