FOR THE RECORD: Thursday, March 7, 1996 CORRECTION: In the biblical story of Esther, the queen of Persia saved her fellow Jews from death at the hands of a Persian. A Sunday IN Life story about the Moses Lake chapter of the Eastern Star incorrectly indentified the persecutor.
In the early 1800s, wives and mothers of men who joined the Masonic Order, a fraternal organization, were not allowed to join. But that changed in 1818 when the Masons established a division solely for women.
Eastern Star began in Boston and gradually moved West. The first Washington state chapter was formed in 1875; there are now about 159 chapters statewide.
The goal of Moses Lake’s Silver Sage Chapter is to help the community, says member Barbara Shay.
“It’s a charitable organization,” she says. “Our main aim is to help people.”
There are few membership requirements: women must be related to a Mason and hold a belief in a higher power.
“The only prerequisite is that you believe in God,” Shay says. (Since the early 1900s, any Mason may be an Eastern Star member.)
Each chapter helps support a needy organization. The Silver Sage donates to the Moses Lake food bank and arthritis foundation.
Some of the money they contribute comes from the $12 annual dues each of the 180 members pays. The rest is raised through various fund raisers, including bake sales and collecting commemorative postage stamps for cancer research.
Shay joined Eastern Star in 1988 “to be part of helping the youth and children. All our efforts go to helping the children.”
The goal, She says, is to help children become good adults.
Since joining, Shay has risen through the various ranks to become the Grand Esther of the Grand Chapter of the Washington Order of the Eastern Star. She is one of 18 state officers.
Her office takes its name from Esther in the Bible, a woman who saved her people from extermination by the Hebrews.
“Esther represents light, purity and joy of life itself,” Shay says.
This joy of life and desire to help children is best illustrated with the Shriners Hospitals for Crippled Children, which the Masons maintain. Nationwide, the hospitals, including Spokane’s, offer free medical care to children.
“Every (Eastern Star) unit has something they do to help the hospitals,” Shay says.