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Information from the Grand Lodge of Vermont F. & A.M.

Members of the Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine for North America are members of the Masonic Order and adhere to the principles of Freemasonry -- Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth.

Freemasonry dates back hundreds of years to when stonemasons and other craftsmen on building projects gathered in shelter houses or lodges. Through the years these gatherings changed in many ways until formal Masonic lodges emerged, with members bound together not by trade, but by their own wishes to be fraternal brothers. There is no higher degree in Freemasonry than that of Master Mason (the Third Degree). 

Shriner are distinguished by an enjoyment of life in the interest of philanthropy. With almost 600,000 members the organization has a buoyant philosophy which has been expressed as "Pleasure without intemperance, hospitality without rudeness and jollity without coarseness." 


The Evolution of the "World's Greatest Fraternity"
The Ritual
The Emblem
The Salutation
The Fez
The First Meeting
The Imperial Council
Evolution of the "World's Greatest Philanthropy"
First Hospital
Orthopedic Research
The Path to the Shriners Burns Institutes
The Fraternity Continues
The East/West Shrine Game
The Peace Memorial
Shrine Rooms East and West
Shrine General Offices
The Shrine of North America-How the Organization Works
Directory Shriners Hospitals for Crippled Children
Admission Procedures
Ways of Giving


What is a Shriner? What kind of organization attracts truck drivers, dentists, contractors, heads of state, movie stars, generals, clergymen and accountants? What is the Shrine?

Someone might answer: "Oh yeah, Shriners are those guys who are always having those parades with the wild costumes and funny little cars." Another might think of Shrine circuses and Shrine clowns. The fellow next to them might interject, "No, Shriners are those guys who wear those funny hats-like flowerpots-and have those big conventions."

"I don't know about that," a passerby might add. "But I do know my little girl was born with club feet and now they are straight, and she can walk like anyone else thanks to Shriners Hospitals for Crippled Children."

"Crippled children?" questions still another. "I thought Shriners ran those fantastic Burns Institutes. I've read stories about them saving kids with burns on 90 percent of their bodies." All those people are right. Each has experienced an aspect of Shrinedom. What they cannot experience, unless they are Shriners, is the camaraderie, deep friendships, good fellowship and great times shared by all Shriners. What they may not know is that all Shriners share a Masonic heritage: each is a 32 degree Mason through the Scottish Rite or a Knights Templar Mason through the York Rite.

There are approximately 800,000 Shriners now. They gather in Temples throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Panama Canal Zone.

There are 22 Shriners Hospitals for Crippled Children - 19 orthopedic units and three Shriners Burns Institutes. These hospitals have cured or substantially helped more than 350,000 children - at no cost to parent or child - since the first Shriners Hospital opened in 1922. How did it all start? How does it work? What is the Shrine?

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In 1870, several thousand of the 900,000 inhabitants of Manhattan were Masons. Many of these Masons made it a point to lunch at the Knickerbocker Cottage, a restaurant at 426 Sixth Avenue. At a special table on the second floor, a particularly jovial group of men used to meet regularly. The Masons who gathered at this table were noted for their good humor and wit. They often discussed the idea of a new fraternity for Masons, in which fun and fellowship would be stressed more than ritual. Two of the table regulars, Walter M. Fleming, M.D., and William J. Florence, an actor, took the idea seriously enough to do something about it.

Billy Florence was a star. After becoming the toast of the New York stage, he toured London, Europe and Middle Eastern countries, always playing to capacity audiences. While on tour in Marseilles, France, Florence was invited to a party given by an Arabian diplomat. The entertainment was something in the nature of an elaborately staged musical comedy. At its conclusion, the guests became members of a secret society. Florence made copious notes and drawings at the initial viewing and on two other occasions when he attended the ceremony-once in Algiers and again in Cairo. Florence, recalling the conversations at the Knickerbocker Cottage, realized that this might well be the vehicle for the new fraternity. When he showed his material to Dr. Fleming on his return to New York in 1870, Fleming agreed.

Dr. Walter Millard Fleming was a prominent physician and surgeon. Born in 1838, he obtained a degree in medicine in Albany, New York, in 1862. During the Civil War, he was a surgeon with the 13th New York Infantry Brigade of the National Guard. He then practiced medicine in Rochester, New York, until 1868, when he moved to New York City and quickly became a leading practitioner.

Fleming was devoted to fraternalism. He became a Mason in Rochester and took some of his Scottish Rite work there, then completed his degrees in New York City. He was coroneted a 33 degree Scottish Rite Mason on September 19, 1872.

Fleming took the ideas supplied by Florence and converted them into what would become the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (A.A.O.N.M.S.). While there is some question about the origin of the Fraternity's name, it is probably more than coincidence that its initials, rearranged, spell out the words "A MASON."

With the help of other Knickerbocker Cottage regulars, Fleming drafted the ritual, designed the emblem and ritual costumes, formulated a salutation, and declared that members would wear a red fez.

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The initiation rites, or ceremonials, were drafted by Fleming with the help of three Brother Masons: Charles T. McClenachan, lawyer and expert on Masonic ritual; William Sleigh Paterson, printer, linguist, and ritualist; and Albert L. Rawson, prominent scholar and Mason who provided much of the Arabic background.

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The Crescent was adopted as the Jewel of the Order. Though any materials could be used in forming the Crescent, the most valuable were the claws of a Royal Bengal Tiger, united at their base in a gold setting. In the center was the head of a sphinx, and on the back were a pyramid, urn and star. The Jewel bore the Arabic motto "Kuwat wa Ghadab," which means "Strength and Fury." Today, the Shrine emblem includes a scimitar from which the crescent hangs and a five-pointed star beneath the head of the sphinx.

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Dr. Fleming and his coworkers also formulated a salutation used today by Shriners "es Selamu Aleikum!"- Which means, "Peace be with you!" In returning the salutation, the gracious wish is "Aleikum Es Selamu," which means, "With you be peace.

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The red fez with a black tassel, the Shrine's official hallmark, has been handed down through the ages. It derives its name from the place where it was first manufactured-the Holy City of Fez, Morocco.

Some historians claim it dates back to about AD 980, but the name of the fez, or tarboosh, does not appear in Arabic literature until around the 14th century. One of the earliest references to the headgear is in "Arabian Nights."

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On September 26, 1872, in the New York City Masonic Hall, the first Shrine Temple in the United States was organized. Brother McClenachan and Dr. Fleming had completed the ritual and proposed that the first Temple be named Mecca. The original 23 Masons of the Knickerbocker Cottage lunch group were named Charter Members of Mecca Temple. Noble Florence read a letter outlining the "history" of the Order and giving advice on the conduct of meetings. The officers elected were William J. Fleming, Potentate; Charles T. McClenachan, Chief Rabban; John A. Moore, Assistant Rabban; Edward Eddy, High Priest and Prophet; George W Millar, Oriental Guide; James S. Chappel, Treasurer; William S. Moore, Recorder; and Oswald M. d'Aubigne, Captain of the Guard.

But the organization was not an instant success, even though a second Temple was chartered in Rochester in 1875. Four years after the Shrine's beginnings, there were only 43 Shriners, all but six of whom were from New York.

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The Imperial Council

At a meeting of Mecca Temple on June 6, 1876, in the New York Masonic Temple, a new body was created to help spur the growth of the young fraternity. This governing body was called "The Imperial Grand Council of the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine for the United States of America." Fleming became the first Imperial Grand Potentate and the new body established rules for membership and the formation of new Temples. The initiation ritual was embellished, as was the "mythology" about the fraternity. An extensive publicity and recruiting campaign was initiated.

It worked. Just two years later, in 1878, there were 425 Shriners in 13 Temples. Five of these Temples were in New York, two were in Ohio and the others were in Vermont, Pittsburgh, Connecticut, Iowa, Michigan and Massachusetts.

The Shrine continued to grow during the 1880s. By the time of the 1888 Annual Session (convention) in Toronto, there were 7,210 members in 48 Temples located throughout the United States and one in Canada.

While the organization was still primarily social, instances of philanthropic work became more frequent. During an 1888 Yellow Fever epidemic in Jacksonville, Fla., members of the new Morocco Temple and Masonic Knights Templar worked long hours to relieve the suffering populace. In 1889, Shriners came to the aid of the Johnstown Flood victims. In 1898, there were 50,000 Shriners, and 71 of the 79 Temples were engaged in some sort of philanthropic work.By the turn of the century, the Shrine had come into its own. At its 1900 Imperial Session, representatives from 82 Temples marched in a Washington, D.C., parade reviewed by President William McKinley. Shrine membership was well over 55,000.

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The Shrine was unstoppable in the early1900s. Membership grew rapidly, and the geographical range of Temples widened. Between 1900 and 1918, eight new Temples were created in Canada, and one each in Honolulu, Mexico City and the Panama Canal Zone. The organization became, in fact, the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine for North America. New flourishes were added to a growing tradition of colorful pageantry. More Shrine bands were formed. The first Shrine circus is said to have opened in 1906 in Detroit. During the same period, there was growing member support for establishing an official Shrine charity. Most Temples had individual philanthropies and sometimes the Shrine as an organization gave aid. After the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the Shrine sent $25,000 to help the stricken city, and in 1915, the Shrine contributed $10,000 for the relief of European war victims. But neither the individual projects nor the special one-time contributions satisfied the membership.

In 1919, Freeland Kendrick (Lu Lu Temple, Philadelphia) was the Imperial Potentate-elect for the 363,744 Shriners. He had long been searching for a cause for the thriving group to support. In a visit to the Scottish Rite Hospital for Crippled Children in Atlanta, he became aware of the overwhelming needs of crippled children in North America. At the June 1919 Imperial Session, Kendrick proposed establishing "The Mystic Shriners Peace Memorial for Friendless, Orphaned and Crippled Children." His resolution never came to a vote. As lmperial Potentate in 1919 and 1920, he traveled more than 150,000 miles, visiting a majority of the 146 Temples and campaigning for Shrine philanthropy.

The climax came at the June 1920 Imperial Session in Portland, Oregon. Kendrick changed his resolution to one establishing the "Shriners Hospital for Crippled Children," to be supported by a $2 yearly assessment from each Shriner.

Conservative Shriners expressed doubts about the Shrine assuming this kind of responsibility. Prospects for approval were dimming when Noble Forrest Adair (Yaarab Temple, Atlanta) rose to speak:

"I was lying in bed yesterday morning, about four o'clock ... and some poor fellow who had strayed from the rest of the band ... stood down there under the window for 25 minutes playing 'I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles.' He said that when he awoke later, "I thought of the wandering minstrel, and I wondered if there were not a deep significance in the tune that he was playing for Shriners, 'I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles.'

He noted, "While we have spent money for songs and spent money for bands, it's time for the Shrine to spend money for humanity.

"I want to see this thing started. Let's get rid of all the technical objections. And if there is a Shriner in North America," he continued, "who objects to having paid the two dollars after he has seen the first crippled child helped, I will give him a check back for it myself." When he was through, Noble Adair sat down to thunderous applause. The whole tone of the session had changed. There were other speakers, but the decision had already been reached. The resolution was passed unanimously.

A committee was chosen to determine the site and personnel for the Shriners Hospital. After months of work, research and debate, the committee concluded that there should be not just one hospital but a network of hospitals throughout North America. It was an idea that appealed to Shriners, who liked to do things in a big and colorful way. When the committee brought the proposal to the 1921 Imperial Session in Des Moines, Iowa, it too was passed.

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First Hospital

Before the June 1922 Session, the cornerstone was in place for the first Shriners Hospital for Crippled Children in Shreveport, La. The rules for this hospital, and all the other Shriners Hospitals which would follow, were simple: To be admitted, a child must be from a family unable to pay for the orthopedic treatment he would receive, be under 14 years of age (later increased to 18) and be, in the opinion of the chief of staff, someone whose condition could be helped.

The work of the great Shriners Hospital network is supervised by the members of the Board of Trustees, who are elected at the annual meeting of the Hospital Corporation. Each hospital operates under the supervision of a local Board of Governors, a chief of staff and an administrator. Members of the boards are Shriners, who serve without pay.

The network of orthopedic units grew as follows: Shreveport, Sept.16, 1922; Honolulu, Jan. 2, 1923; Twin Cities, March 12, 1923; San Francisco, June 16, 1923; Portland, Jan.15, 1924; St. Louis, April 8, 1924; Spokane, Nov.15, 1924; Intermountain, Jan.22, 1925; Montreal, Feb.18, 1925; Springfield, Feb.21, 1925; Chicago, March 20, 1926; Philadelphia, June 24, 1926; Lexington, Nov. 1, 1926; Greenville, Sept. 1, 1927; Mexico City, March 10, 1945; Houston, Feb. 1, 1952; Los Angeles, Feb. 25, 1952; Winnipeg, March 16, 1952 (closed Aug.12, 1977); Erie, April 1, 1967; and Tampa, Oct.16, 1985.

The hospitals have a three-fold purpose: to help children, to conduct research, and to train medical personnel. All care for treatment at Shriner's Hospitals is totally FREE of charge to the patients and their families. Assistance with transportation, meals and accommodations may be provided on an as-needed basis. 

The first patient to be admitted in 1922 was a little girl from the red clay country south of Shreveport, La., a tot with a clubfoot who had learned to walk on the top of one foot rather than the sole. The first child to be admitted in Minneapolis was a Black-foot Indian boy suffering from the deformities of polio. Since that time, more than 350,000 children have been treated at the 22 Shriners Hospitals. Surgical techniques developed in Shriners Hospitals have become standard in the orthopaedic world. Thousands of children have been fitted with arm and leg braces and artificial limbs, most of them made in special workrooms in the hospitals by expert technicians.

All of this is offered to all children, regardless of race, religion or relationship to a Shriner, at no charge to them, their families or any third party. In establishing Shriners Hospitals for Crippled Children, Shriners had founded the "World's Greatest Philanthropy." Since 1922, this philanthropy has been the heart and soul of the Shrine. Shriners Hospitals are funded through the Shriners Hospitals for Crippled Children Endowment Fund. With a total budget exceeding $420 million annually, where does all of this money come from? This endowment is maintained through gifts, bequests and contributions from Shriners and the public, an annual assessment paid by every Shriner, and designated charitable Temple fund-raising activities.

More than $1.5 billion has been spent building and operating Shriners Hospitals. More important, thousands of Shriners devote many hours of their time entertaining, transporting, and comforting the patients in their hospitals.

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Orthopedic Research

From 1950 to 1960, the Shrine's funds for the care of crippled children increased rapidly. At the same time, the waiting lists of new patients for admission to Shriners Hospitals began to decline, due to the polio vaccine and new antibiotics. Thus, Shriners found themselves able to provide additional services, and Shrine leaders began to look for other ways they could help the children of North America.

One result was the collating of the medical records of patients of Shriners Hospitals. By placing the records of each patient and treatment on computer and microfilm, valuable information was made available to all Shrine surgeons and the medical world as a whole. This process, begun in 1959, also made it easier to initiate clinical research in Shrine orthopedic units.

Though Shriners Hospitals had always engaged in clinical research, in the early '60s, the Shrine aggressively entered the structured research field and began earmarking funds for research projects. By 1967, Shriners were spending $20,000 on orthopedic research. Today, the research budget for 1989 alone is $16.7 million. Shrine researchers are working on a vast variety of projects including: studies of biochemical changes in children afflicted with cerebral palsy and osteogenesis imperfecta; degeneration of tissue in growth, aging, arthritis and other diseases; and acquired or childhood disorders of bone and mineral metabolism.

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This expansion of orthopaedic work was not enough for the Shriners. They had enough funds to further expand their philanthropy. The only question was - What unmet need could they fill? A special committee was established to explore areas of need and found that burns treatment was a field of service that was being bypassed. In the early '60s, the only burns treatment center in the United States was part of a military complex. The committee was ready with a resolution for the 1962 Imperial Session in Toronto. This read in part:

"WHEREAS, reliable medical surveys disclose that each year thousands of children are rendered actually or potentially crippled by burns; and

"WHEREAS, the facilities in North America for research, treatment and care of such burns are inadequate and limited; and

"WHEREAS, the Shrine, as a leader of child therapy in the field of orthopedics, can again make a contribution to medical science"

"Now therefore, be it resolved, that Shriners Hospitals for Crippled Children, a Colorado Corporation, do construct, establish, and operate one or more hospitals for the care and treatment of curable crippled children afflicted with acutely dangerous burns, and for research, activities, and training programs related thereto, at such place or places in North America as the Board of Trustees of the Shriners Hospitals for Crippled Children may determine, at an aggregate cost not to exceed ten million dollars; "And, be it further resolved, that the Board of Trustees be directed to proceed forthwith to cause the first proposed hospitals to be built and put in operation." The resolution, dated July 4, 1962, was adopted by unanimous vote.

On November 1, 1963, the Shrine opened a seven-bed win in the John Sealy Hospital on the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston as an interim center for the care of severe burns in children. On February 1, 1964, the Shrine opened a seven-bed ward in the Cincinnati General Hospital on the campus of the University 0 Cincinnati. A third interim operation, a five-bed ward, was opened March 13, 1964, in the Massachusetts General Hospital (Boston) under the direction of the Harvard Medical School.

While children were being treated in these wards, separate buildings were constructed near each interim location. These buildings, the three 30-bed Shriners Burns Institutes, are d signed to meet the special need of burned children. At each, the staffs remain affiliated with the neighboring universities so that they may better carry out their three-fold programs of treatment, research and teaching.

The unit at Galveston opened March 20, 1966; the unit at Cincinnati opened February 19, 1968; and the Boston unit opened November 2, 1968.

Since the Shriners Burns Institutes opened, they have more than doubled the chances for survival of the severely burned child. They have saved children burned over 90 percent of their bodies. The techniques they have pioneered to prevent the crippling effects of severe burns have made a normal life possible for thousands of burn victims.

Most importantly, perhaps, the establishment of the Shriners Burns Institutes has alerted the medical world to this special need, which has, in turn, led to the establishment of non-Shrine burns centers throughout North America.

At the Shriners Burns Institutes the work goes on, continually searching for new ways to heal severe burns and reduce or, as much as possible, eliminate the crippling and scarring effects of those burns. Because of the special nature of the Shriners Burns Institutes, they will surely always be on the frontier of burn care.

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The Fraternity Continues

As the hospital network grew, the fraternity continued in its grand tradition. In 1923, there was a Shriner in the White House, and Noble/President William G. Harding reviewed the Shriners parade at the 1923 Imperial Session in Washington, D.C.

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The East/West Shrine Game

The East/West Shrine College all-star Football Game was established in 1925 in San Francisco with the motto, "Strong Legs Run So Weak Legs May Walk." Throughout its long history, this traditional end-of-the-year game has raised millions of dollars for Shriners Hospitals and helped millions of people become more familiar with the story of Shriners Hospitals. In this, as in other Shrine football games, the young players visit patients at Shriners Hospitals, so that the players themselves know the real purpose of the game.

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The Peace Memorial

In 1930, the Imperial Session was to be held in Toronto. For his Session, Imperial Potentate Leo V Youngworth wanted something special. With the appropriate approval, the leader of 600,000 Shriners commissioned a peace monument to be built in Toronto. It was to face south, commemorating 150 years of friendship between the United States and Canada. It was relocated and rededicated during the 1962 Imperial Session, and it stands today outside the National

Exposition grounds in Toronto. The plaque reads: 'Erected and dedicated to the cause of universal peace by the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine for North America June 12, 1930."

The 1930 Session was the Shrine's own antidote to the pervasive gloom of the Great Depression. But it was only temporary. Not even Shriners could escape the Depression. For the first time in its history, the Shrine began to lose members -the Nobles just could not pay their dues.

The struggle to keep the hospitals and the fraternity going during these years was enormous. It was necessary to dip into the Endowment Fund capital to cover operating costs of the hospitals. To ensure the financial distinction between the hospitals and the fraternity, a corporation for each was established in 1937.

The Shrine and its hospitals survived the Depression. By 1942, membership was once more increasing.

After World War II, the economy improved, and men found renewed interest in fraternalism. Like the rest of North America, the Shrine had adjusted to wartime existence. Imperial Sessions were limited to business and were attended only by official Temple Representatives. Shrine parade units stayed home and marched in local patriotic parades. During the four years of war, more than $1 billion was invested by and through the Shrine in government war bonds. The Hospital Corporation also invested all of its available funds in government securities.

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Shrine Rooms East and West

Alfred G. Arvold (El Zagal Temple, Fargo, N.D.), 1944-45 Imperial Potentate, became the only Shrine head in history that had no Imperial Session over which to preside. Only national Shrine officers and hospital trustees gathered in Chicago in 1945. Arvold made an impact nevertheless. He initiated, designed and made real his personal dream of special display rooms in the George Washington National Masonic Memorial in Alexandria, Va. Millions of visitors have since been to those Memorial Shrine Rooms - now called Shrine Rooms East - which were refurbished in 1963.

In 1972, a new Shrine museum - International Shrine Rooms West - was established in the north wing of what had been the first San Francisco Shriners Hospitals (That unit moved into a new building in 1970.)

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Shrine General Offices

Until 1928, the Shrine's national offices were in Richmond, Va. With the growth of the fraternity, there were increasing pressures to locate Shrine headquarters in some city that would be more convenient to all Temples. Thus, in 1958, the building at 323 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, was purchased.

At a special session held April 10th, 1978, in Tampa, Fla., representatives voted to relocate the Shrine headquarters to 2900 Rocky Point Drive, Tampa. The new headquarters houses the administrative personnel for both the Iowa (fraternal) and Colorado (Shriners Hospitals) corporations, the Shrine's fraternal and hospital records, the public relations and data processing departments, and the attorneys who monitor the many estates involved in Shriners Hospitals for Crippled Children.

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Members of the Shrine of North America are residents of Canada, Mexico, and the United States. There is, therefore, a special Shrine Pledge of Allegiance: "I pledge allegiance to my Flag and to the country for which it stands, One Nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all." Whenever Shriners gather, the three national flags are flown with the Shrine flag.

Today, approximately 800,000 Shriners are affiliated with 190 Shrine Temples, ranging from Al Aska Temple in Anchorage to Abou Saad Temple in the Panama Canal Zone, and from Aloha Temple in Honolulu to Philae Temple in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Temple memberships range from Al Malaikah's (Los Angeles) with about 20,000 to Mazol's (St. John's Newfoundland) with about 500.

There are Shriners Hospitals from Canada to Mexico City and from Honolulu to Boston. There are 1,065 beds in these hospitals (90 of them in the Burns Institutes). Each year, approximately 15,000 children are treated on an inpatient basis, and thousands more are treated as outpatients, at a total yearly operating cost of more than $197 million.

To better understand how all this works, an observer should start at a local Temple. All Temples are run by an elected Divan (officers), headed by the Potentate and the Chief Rabban. A Recorder, or record keeper/administrator, usually maintains an office at the Temple. One member is elected or appointed to the "lower rung" each January and under traditional practice moves up one "rung" each year. Thus by the time he becomes Potentate of his Temple, a Shriner usually has at least four years of experience in Temple leadership.

Stated meetings of the Temple membership, as a whole must be held at least four times a year. In addition, each Temple holds one or more ceremonials every year for the induction of new members. There are also many Temple, unit, and Shrine Club social events each year.

Units are smaller groups within a Temple, which are organized for a specific purpose. Many of these are the uniformed units so familiar to parade watchers: oriental bands, Shrine bands, horse and motor patrols, highlander units, clowns, drum corps, chanters, and Legions of Honor. Other Temple units can include hospital hosts or guides, and transportation units, which work closely with their local Shriners Hospital - either with the children at the hospital or in transporting patients to and from the hospital.

Each Temple has a clearly defined territory from which it can obtain new members. Since these jurisdictions are often quite large, smaller geographical units may be organized for fellowship purposes. These are the Shrine Clubs, under the control of their mother Temple.

In addition, any number of Temples may form a Shrine Association, for social conventions, if the Imperial Council issues an appropriate charter. There are currently 20 regional associations and 10 Shrine unit associations.

The 189 Shrine Temples are governed by the Imperial Council, which is composed of Representatives. The Representatives of the Imperial Council include all past and present Imperial Officers; Emeritus Representatives (those who have served 15 years or more) and Representatives elected from each Temple. A Temple may have two Representatives if its membership exceeds 300, three if more than 600, and four if more than 1,000. These Representatives meet once a year - usually in July at the Imperial Council Session - to make policy decisions and legislation regarding both the fraternity and the hospitals. With more than 800 Representatives, the Imperial Council constitutes one of the largest legislative bodies in the world. The Representatives also elect the Imperial Officers and the chairman and members of the Board of Trustees for Shriners Hospitals for Crippled Children.

The Imperial Divan, the Shrine's governing body, consists of 13 officers plus an Imperial Chaplain. The Imperial Treasurer and the Recorder may be elected for several consecutive years; they are the only officers receiving any type of compensation. As with Temple Divans, an officer (with the exception of Treasurer and Recorder) is elected to the bottom of the Divan and, barring unforeseen circumstances, moves up one position each year. These officers, elected from among the Representatives, are usually past Temple Potentates. The Divan plus the immediate Past Imperial Potentate constitute the Board of Directors of the fraternal corporation and they, with the chairman of the Board of Trustees, constitute the Board of Directors of the hospital corporation.

The chief executive officer for the Shrine of North America is the Imperial Potentate, who is elected for one year. He visits many of the Shrine Temples and hospitals and generally supervises both fraternal and hospital policy.

To help him with these tasks, the Imperial Potentate appoints committees to implement the various Shrine programs. One of the most important of these committees is the Endowments, Wills and Gifts Committee, which coordinates and supervises contributions and bequests given to Shriners Hospitals for Crippled Children.

The day-to-day operations - keeping the records and accounts of the fraternity and hospitals, supervising the estates left to Shriners Hospitals and producing printed materials for the entire Shrine organization - are carried out in the General Offices in Tampa. These offices are supervised by an Executive Director for Fraternal Affairs, an Executive Vice President of Shriners Hospitals, and a legal department, which is under the supervision of an appointed General Counsel.

However complex the Shrine may seem, its essence is the fraternal fellowship for which it was originally founded. It has been said that there are no strangers in Shrinedom. This is evident in the great times and laughter wherever Shriners get together, whether in a local Shrine Club meeting, a Temple ceremonial, a Shrine Association gathering or an Imperial Session. All Shriners share not just a Masonic background but a zest for living.

Though this quality remains consistent - from the original thirteen members to the approximately 825,000 Shriners of today - the Shrine has adapted to many changes. Many more Temple and convention activities include the families of Shriners. Today, many Shriners are deeply involved in Shrine Hospital work in addition to their fraternal activities

Most Shrine Temples sponsor fund-raising events to provide funds for Shriners Hospitals. In one calendar year there can be nearly 150 of these events, which range from the East/West Shrine Game and other football games to horse shows, hospital paper sales, and miscellaneous sports and social events.

The Shriners Hospital network consisted of 22 hospitals until 1977. The Winnipeg unit closed August 12, 1977, as the result of the Representatives vote at the 102nd Imperial Session in Kansas City. That vote was based on a decreasing patient census, which was primarily the result of a Canadian national health program.

In the United States, however, Shriners Hospitals are experiencing the highest census since the development of the Salk vaccine. At the 108th Imperial Council Session in New Orleans, Representatives approved a $50 million expansion and rebuilding pro-gram which included a new orthopedic hospital in Tampa, Fla. The opening of the Tampa unit in October 1985 brought the Shriners Hospital system back to 22 units.

In the years ahead, Shriners plan to continue updating their facilities, expanding their orthopedic research program, and increasing their hospitals' capacities to handle highly specialized orthopedic problems. In this way, Shriners Hospitals for Crippled Children will continue to fill a special need for children.

Thus, whatever changes occur within the fraternal organization or within the Shriners Hospital system, the Shrine of North America will remain the "World's Greatest Fraternity," operating and maintaining the "World's Greatest Philanthropy."

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  • Chicago Unit, 2211 North Oak Park Avenue, Chicago, IL 60635 (312) 622-5400
  • Erie Unit, 1645 West 8th Street, Erie, PA 16505 (814) 452-4164
  • Greenville Unit, 2100 North Pleasantburg Drive, Greenville, SC 29609 (803) 244-4530
  • Honolulu Unit, 1310 Punahou Street, Honolulu, HA 96826 (808) 941-4466
  • Houston Unit, 1402 Outer Belt Drive, Houston, TX 77030 (713) 797-1616
  • Intermountain Unit, Fairfax Ave. at Virginia St., Salt Lake City, UT 84103 (801)532-5307
  • Lexington Unit, 1900 Richmond Road, Lexington, KY 40502 (606) 266-2101
  • Los Angeles Unit, 3160 Geneva Street, Los Angeles, CA 90020 (213) 388-3151
  • Mexico City Unit, Suchil No.152, Col. El Rosano Delg. Coyoacan, 04380, Mexico, D.F., Mexico (905) 549-3280
  • Montreal Unit, 1529 Cedar Avenue, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3G 1A6 (514) 842-4464
  • Philadelphia Unit, 8400 Roosevelt Blvd., Philadelphia, PA 19152 (215) 332-4500
  • Portland Unit, 3101 S.W Sam Jackson Park Rd., Portland, OR 97201 (503) 241-5090
  • St. Louis Unit, 2001 5. Lindbergh Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63131(314) 432-3600
  • San Francisco Unit, 170119th Ave., San Francisco, CA 94122(415) 665-1100
  • Shreveport Unit, 3100 Samford Ave., Shreveport, LA 71103 (318) 222-5704
  • Spokane Unit, N. 820 Summit Blvd., Spokane, WA 99201(509) 327-9521
  • Springfield Unit, 516 Carew Street, Springfield, MA 01104(413) 787-2000
  • Tampa Unit, 12502 N. Pine Dr., Tampa, FL 33612-9499 (813) 972-2250
  • Twin Cities Unit, 2025 East River Road, Minneapolis, MN 55414(612) 339-6711


  • Boston Unit, 51 Blossom Street, Boston, MA 02114(617) 722-3000
  • Cincinnati Unit, 202 Goodman Street, Cincinnati, OH 45219 (513) 751-3900
  • Galveston Unit, 610 Texas Avenue, Galveston, TX 77550-2788 (409) 761-2516

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Children from birth to their 18th birthday are eligible for treatment at Shriners Hospitals for Crippled Children if, in the opinion of the hospital's chief of staff, there is a reasonable possibility that treatment would benefit the child and if treatment at another facility would place a financial burden on the patient's family or guardian. Shriners Hospitals are open to all children, regardless of their race, religion or relationship to a Shriner.

Orthopedic Units

Patients are accepted for treatment in the orthopaedic hospitals by either: 1. Completion of an application form and the sponsorship of a Shriner. The completed form should be returned to the nearest Shriners Hospital the application is reviewed at that hospital for financial eligibility prior to medical examination. 2. Medical examination at a Shriners Mini Clinic. Appointments to a clinic can be arranged by a telephone call or letter to the nearest Shriners Hospital. If medical eligibility is established, the application form will be completed at the clinic. Final acceptance relative to financial eligibility is determined by the local hospital's Board of Governors.

Burns Institutes Emergency

For the acutely burned child needing immediate care, the referring physician should contact a Shriners Burns Institute directly and state that he or she has a patient needing emergency admission. Telephone the Institute and ask for the Admitting Physician. Such patients will be accepted promptly if space is available. Transportation of the patient is the responsibility of the family or the local Shrine Temple. An application form must be completed for acute patients as soon as possible, but not necessarily before admission.


For the child needing plastic reconstructive or restorative surgery and rehabilitation as a result of burn injuries, applications are available from Shrine Temples, from individual Shriners, or from any of the Shriners Burns Institutes. Applications must be completed by the parents, the family physician (or referring physician) and a Shriner.

The Shriner will then forward the application to a Shriners Burns Institute for approval. Upon acceptance, the child is scheduled either for admission or for an outpatient clinic visit for evaluation.

Toll-Free Information

To obtain more information about Shriners Hospitals and the admission procedures, call toll-free: 1-800-237-5055. In Canada, call 1-800-361-7256, and in Florida, call 1-800-282-9161.

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All donations and bequests not restricted by the donor become part of the Shriners Hospitals for Crippled Children endowment fund, with only the income from the fund being used to operate Shriners Hospitals.

Living Gifts

Contributions can be made at any time to the Shriners Hospitals for Crippled Children.

Life Income Agreement

Persons contributing $5,000 or more may participate in the Shriners Hospitals for Crippled Children Pooled Income Fund. Under this agreement, donors or their designees will receive annual income from their contribution during their lifetime. A portion of the contribution may be deducted as a charitable donation.

Real Estate

Real estate may be deeded outright to Shriners Hospitals for Crippled Children, ox; if it is a donor's residence or farm, may be given subject to retained life interests. The value of the interest being contributed may be used as a charitable contribution for income tax purposes.


Contributions of securities may be easily accomplished. If the donor's securities have appreciated in value at the time of the gift, there can be income tax and other advantages to the donor.


Shriners Hospitals for Crippled Children can be designated as the irrevocable beneficiary and owner of an insurance policy. The hospitals would thus be assured of a definite sum in the future. The cash surrender value and annual premium may be deducted as a charitable contribution.


Designations of bequests should clearly indicate Shriners Hospitals for Crippled Children. Bequests under wills may reduce estate taxes.


Irrevocable charitable remainder unitrusts or annuity trusts may be established to provide for lifetime payments to the named beneficiaries. Upon death of the surviving income beneficiary, Shriners Hospitals would utilize assets for Crippled Children for its charitable purposes.

For Information

The Office of the General Counsel, Shriners Hospitals for Crippled Children, located at 2900 Rocky Point Drive, Tampa, Florida, 33607, can provide further specifi information on designating Shriners Hospitals for Crippled Children for living gifts, wills or trusts. Phone 813-885-2575.

Donor Recognition

Shriners Hospitals for Crippled Children was born out of the Shrine's love for children, but could not continue today without the generosity of thousands across North America. In order to recognize the importance of these donors, Shriners Hospitals have created a unique Donor Recognition Program.

Each of the 22 Shriners Hospitals has a Book of Gold placed in its lobby. Engraved on the open pages of this special book is the inscription, "In this Book of Gold are recorded the names of those who have been mercifully mindful of little children who needed help. For them, we pray God's Blessings." Inside, the book lists the names of persons who have remembered the hospitals by making legacies, bequests or gifts in their wills.

In addition to the Gold Book, Shriners Hospitals recognize their donors through the Gold Book Society and the Philanthropic Society.

The Gold Book Society features a six-star program that recognizes donations between $2000 and $250,000. The program, divided into six levels ranging from one to six stars, recognizes each donation with a unique award corresponding to the appropriate level. Supporters can progress through the six levels as additional contributions are recognized.

When donations or bequests reach or exceed $250,000, supporters become members of the Shriners Hospitals for Crippled Children Philanthropic Society. This program features a prestigious master award center, located in each Shriners Hospital and at International Headquarters in Tampa. The centers, made of marble and oak, prominently display plaques recognizing the members of the Philanthropic Society. Each plaque features a bronze silver or gold medallion, which distinguishes the level of contribution made to Shriners Hospitals. Bronze medallions represent contributions between $250,000 and $500,000; silver medallions are awarded for donations between $500,000 and $1 million; and donations of $1 million or more are recognized with gold medallions.

Each member of the Philanthropic Society or a representative of his family also receives a commemorative plaque commending his support for Shriners Hospitals. This plaque features the appropriate medallion as well as a laser-engraved portrait of the donor.

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Last modified: March 22, 2014