Appreciation for Masonicare's "Complete Continuum of Healthcare"
By Adam Raider
It was nearly a decade ago when Stuart Smith, then Master of Cosmopolitan Lodge No. 125 in New Haven, invited fellow Mason Richard Memmott, Sr. to the lodge's annual Thanksgiving dinner to give a talk about Masonicare. At the time, Memmott was Director of Masonicare Community Services, a statewide outreach program.
"I learned a lot more about Masonicare," Stuart recalled, "about how they offer a complete continuum of healthcare for seniors. You're not going to find something like that anyplace else."
Then, in 2016, Stuart experienced the Masonicare continuum firsthand when his now late mother, Norma, transitioned to Masonicare Health Center in Wallingford. Norma was 100 years old and living in a memory care residence in Woodbridge when she suffered a devastating fall that required hospitalization. Stuart requested that his mother be discharged to Masonicare Health Center for short-term rehabilitation, but soon recognized that it would be in her best interest to remain there in long-term care. At Masonicare Health Center, Stuart explained, Norma would benefit from a level of care and safety not available at her previous residence.
"I visited my mother every single day throughout her stay at the Health Center," Stuart said. "During that time, I became well acquainted with the staff. In addition to taking such good care of my mother, they continually showed concern for me by asking how I was holding up as I saw my mother gradually deteriorating."
Norma passed away in May 2016. A short time later, Stuart was surprised to receive calls at home from members of his mother's Masonicare Hospice care team.
"They told me that I could feel free to call them, or come in to see them, if I had questions or needed somebody to talk to," he said. "I never would have expected that. I was so impressed by the care given to my mother, and the concern showed to me, that I put my own name on the Masonicare long-term care waiting list. There's no harm in having it there."
Masonicare is very grateful that Stuart has named its Masonic Charity Foundation of Connecticut as a major beneficiary of his estate. "The Foundation will receive the bulk of my trust," Stuart said, "because I believe in Masonicare's mission of enhancing the quality of life for the elderly residents and patients in their care. I support causes that benefit children and seniors. But unlike children, who generally have a much longer life span to look forward to, the elderly tend to need more immediate physical, emotional or psychological help. I understand their needs because I'm getting older myself. Also, many older adults cannot afford the care they need, and Medicaid doesn't pay as much as is needed to care for the elderly. I feel like I have a responsibility to step up and help pay for the shortfall."
Legacy gifts from benefactors like Stuart have helped sustain the good work of The Masonic Charity Foundation of Connecticut since its inception over 120 years ago, and have enabled Masonicare to grow far beyond its humble beginnings as the Masonic Home and Hospital in Wallingford.
"We are so honored by Stuart's generosity," said Jennifer King, The Foundation's Executive Director. "I've come to know him to be very thoughtful and discerning when it comes to his charitable giving, so his excellent bequest to The Foundation is truly a testament to his strong belief in the high quality of our Masonicare facilities and programs."