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8 - January 6, 2012 | Salem Community Patriot

by Pat Blodgett How could such a small building unimposingly situated in Salem Depot hold some of the hugest hearts in town? I sat down with Paul Brown, Director of Club 85, which is part of the Masonic Spicket Lodge 85, to learn what drives this generous, energetic, and compassionate group of Masons. You are probably familiar with the charitable projects of the Masons, from their weekly public breakfasts, donations to local food pantries, special meals to moms on Mother’s Day, the Christmas breakfast with Santa. Not

to mention the larger Masonic community that supports the

Shriners Burns Hospital, a hospital where burn victims receive free medical care. Next year the Masons will be offering a new program, by presenting scholarship to a local student. This past week Paul

Brown was asked by fellow Mason Bob Anderson if the group would run a fundraiser breakfast for Bob’s granddaughter, Anne, who for an entire year has been undergoing painful and debilitating chemotherapy to combat neuroblastoma, one of the worst and most feared of childhood cancers. I asked Paul Brown how long it took to give Bob an answer. Paul responded, “No hesitation. Of course we’ll do it! I don’t even have to call the cooks. I just know it’s going to happen the minute I ask for their help.” So the Masonic Club 85 Breakfast Team, which includes Rita Sampson and Vinnie Marinelli, will assemble for the Anne Blodgett Fundraising Breakfast, Saturday, January 14 from 8 a.m. to noon, Masonic Hall, 107 Main Street, Salem Depot, for a delicious hot buffet breakfast and raffles. The public is invited and donations are suggested. Because the expenses involved with daily

transporting Anne to Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock in Lebanon and Children’s Hospital in Boston, MA, takes a big bite out of the average paycheck, this is the second fundraising breakfast the Masons have held for Anne. At the first fundraiser the Breakfast Team ran out of food twice and had purchase more food. Worshipful Master Bill Arvidson isn’t one to close the kitchen just because the pan of hash browns is getting low. “As long as Anne’s supporters keep coming through the doors, we’ll keep cooking. And we can always rely on help from the “special ladies” of Spicket Lodge 85 and Eastern Star Chapter 57. I ask for a couple of extra hands and 15 ladies show up.”

Front Porch From My

Bill Arvidson is also responsible for communications between surrounding Masonic Lodges and keeping their members aware of all activities and programs. Bill showed up at a meeting at the Rising Sun Lodge in Nashua, and was elated when the members handed him $175 for

Anne’s Breakfast! Several Salem companies, organizations, and individuals have donated super gifts and attractive baskets of goodies for this raffle, which will be drawn after breakfast, and you do not have to be present to win. ‘A picture’s worth a thousand words’ – I could write a thousand words to describe the pain and tears of childhood neuroblastoma. Anne has required two stem cell transplants, and she and her dad, Jason Blodgett, spent 24 days just in the Boston hospital this summer. But Anne’s picture tells the whole story. She hasn’t had a lot to smile about the last year, although she has been bravely enduring her ordeal. Paul Brown and his team, indeed every single Mason in Salem and hundreds in the area, will be working hard to give Anne a morning full of smiles. If you show up and join in, it will be a morning you’ll remember for a long time.

Anne and her little brother

Paul Brown (kneeling), Bob Anderson, Rita Sampson, Worshipful Master Bill Arvidson, and Vinnie Marinelli.

Charity Gaming Deals out Dollars by S. Aaron Shamshoyan

While expanded gaming remains a heavily debates issue by state lawmakers, charity gambling is providing support the state’s non- profit organizations. “They will average about $50,000 each,” said Ed Callahan, President and General Manager of Rockingham Park. Volunteers from local non-profits assist in the operation of a poker room at Rockingham Park about 360 days of the year as a way to supplement their revenues. A total of 37 charities working with Rockingham Park will raise about $1.8 million annually. “What New Hampshire did was basically allow for the professional operation of table games,” explained Callahan, about poker room host facilities. He added that the facilities must be fully licensed and have professional game operators. Qualifying charities have to be registered with the state over two years and hold a non-profit status among other requirements. “Each of the charities have to submit a list of their members,” said Callahan, adding volunteers are required to undergo full background checks. Each charity is assigned ten days annually

to operate the room, but different from other poker rooms in the state, charities’ days are scattered throughout the year. “Charities operate registration for sit and go’s,” he said.


LEAVING A LEGACY can touch the lives of countless children

and create a lasting memory. Consider including the Boys & Girls Club of Salem in your will or estate plan.

For more information, contact Michael Goodwin at 898-7709 ex. 12


3 Geremonty Drive, Salem, NH

Goodwin, Executive Director of the Salem Boys and Girls Club said the funds were of significant help. “We’ve had lots of funding losses over the years in terms of federal funds and grant funds,” said Goodwin, “Charity gaming has been very important for the Boys and

Girls Club.” Goodwin said his experience at the track was

positive. “We’re able to serve more kids, run more programs, offer more financial assistance … It helps with our bottom line.” Acknowledging other non-profits, Goodwin felt gaming helped the entire community. “When some of these charities do better and are able to raise more money, then they’re able to give more back to the community.” The club also hosts bingo at the track, helping to fund the operating budget. “If something ever happened to the track and it wasn’t there, we would lose a large percentage of our operating budget.”

Beginning their sixth year at the track, the Greater Salem Caregivers has also benefited from the charity table games. “It’s been a blessing and a Godsend, and it’s helped us tremendously,” said Executive Director Richard O’Shaughnessy. Prior to the games, O’Shaughnessy said finances were tough. “We did not have financial stability.” “I see everything as very positive,” he said describing his experience at the track. O’Shaughnessy described Rockingham Park as an excellent organization and said he hasn’t seen any problems. The Greater Salem Caregivers are a service organization providing assistance to disabled and elderly people through rides to doctor’s appointments, shopping trips, and visits. New to the scene, the Salem Animal Rescue League had their first night in the poker room last Friday. “We’re obviously very excited,” said committee member Joanne Flynn, “We need to supplement donations.

Flynn said with only three major fundraising

events planned for the next year, the opportunity was presented at a needed time. “We’ve been on the waiting list for a very long time,” she said. Adopting out 74 animals in December and handling around a thousand a year, the organization was glad to receive the funding. Describing the first night as positive, Flynn said the room was busy. “We had some people that were happy about the cause,” she said, adding guests shared stories of their own animals. While the tables at Rockingham generate

money for charities, the games also create revenue for the state. “This facility will generate probably about $800,000 in taxes to the state,” said Callahan.

Limited to 37 charities operating games, an extensive list remains for others in the area

Salem Animal Rescue League Business Manager

Joleen Malot and Executive Director Lisa Giuffre volunteer at their first poker room event.

looking to get in on the action. “We’ve got about one hundred-eighty organizations that have called and are looking to participate,” Callahan said. Rockingham is the most popular poker room in the state, with the next highest room generating $800,000. “A big part of it is Massachusetts,” he said, “About seventy percent of our business is coming from Massachusetts.”

Callahan said gambling has taken place on the grounds of Rockingham Park for over a century. “There’s been gambling here in one form or another pretty much since 1906,” he said. The state legalized horse race gambling in 1933. As for addiction problems, Callahan said

Rockingham Park is associated with numerous organizations to help alleviate these problems. He said in the past they have heard form family members of people and referred their loved ones to these organizations. “Someone who does have a problem can jump in the car and go to Suffolk Downs or Foxwoods,” he said making assistance often difficult. He also said the biggest addiction problems were with alcohol. With the topic of expanded gaming being debated in Concord, the passage of a bill would not mean an end for charity gaming. “The licensee is required to make up the difference in charitable gaming, said Callahan, meaning funding wouldn’t be allowed to decrease. He also felt revenues could soon be lost to Massachusetts. “If New Hampshire doesn’t do anything and Massachusetts does, I would still anticipate there’d be a dramatic drop in charitable revenues.” Callahan said about four hundred to twelve hundred people visit the poker room daily with a higher attendance on weekends.

Staff photos by Aaron Shamshoyan

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