Giving back to the community is something the Helios Masonic Lodge takes great pride in, and they are hoping to continue to spread its outreach of support.

Cambridge’s Helios Masonic Lodge No. 273, participates in many events, activities and volunteering throughout the community that are rarely boasted by members.

“Nobody dies from giving. Giving is not painful,” Roger McNear, current Lodge Education Officer said.

For years, the Helios Lodge has been giving back to many in the community. The Lodge cooks full Christmas meals each year for families in need. Just in December of 2021, they fed 38 families and donated a great deal of groceries to the local refuge.

Their potato feed fundraiser is also hosted every year to help provide students with educational scholarships.

“This is a push to get the community to realize how much we do for the community and that’s this potato feed – trying to reach out to the community, to help give back to the community with our scholarships- and there’s not a lot of people that know that we do that,” Bill Vice, Elected Master said.

During the annual National Night Out events hosted by the Helios Lodge, the organization has raised money to supply automated external defibrillators to the hockey arena and schools. They also participated in the Relay for Life but now give many donations directly to the Masonic Cancer Center.

“We felt our money was better utilized directly for patient studies for rehabilitation for research and treatments,” McNear said.

Pancake breakfasts are another fundraiser hosted by the Lodge. Not only is this money used for meals and scholarships, they donate a great deal of it to hospitals for research.

“The cancer unit at the Cambridge hospital, we worked together with the Knights of Columbus and raised over $20,000 for the cancer unit. We also help fund the Masonic Cancer Center at the University of Minnesota,” McNear said.

The Helios Lodge also raises money for the Masonic Institute for the Developing Brain; the Shriners Children’s of Twin Cities; and the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital.

McNear mentioned an important fact about where their donations go and how it makes an impact. The University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital was the first institution to successfully complete a bone marrow transplant in 1968.

“We do a lot in the background and nobody knows about it,” McNear said.

One of the great things the Masons do that many don’t hear about, is the volunteering. Brad Brown a former Master, took the time to drive a young child to the Shriners Children’s Hospital for an appointment and the family thanked him by making cashew brittle to share with his family. Brown’s experience hits an internal feeling that many don’t see.

“That’s a story that has evolved out of what we do with volunteering. Believe me the people that receive the stuff don’t get near as much as the people that actually do it,” Brown said.

The hard work and teachings of the Masonry go so far back that it is the oldest philanthropy organization in the world.

Freemasonry or Masonry is a fraternity dedicated to the Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God. Its singular purpose is to make good men better. Masons are encouraged to practice their own faith and through self-improvement, make a difference in our world.

The exact origin of Masonry is lost in antiquity. Most scholars believe Masonry started with the guilds of stone masons who built castles. Stone masons and architects comprised these guilds. Early in the 1600s, membership in these unions or operating lodges of stone masons began to decline and lodges began to admit certain men of prominence in society who were not craftsmen or stone masons. This class of members were initially considered patrons of the fraternity and became known as “accepted masons.”

The Helios Lodge had their first ever meeting in Cambridge on Feb. 13, 1909. Ever since that time, Masons have been making a difference in this community.

McNear’s family involvement with the Masonry goes back before the Revolutionary War. He would follow at only the age of nine or 10. McNear would attend dinners and read Masonic books in the library. He has been a member of the Helios Lodge since 1998.

“We’re always working to make each other better men,” McNear said.

Vice joined the Helios Lodge in 2001 and is the elected Master Officer for 2022. His family is following in his footsteps as his grandson recently entered the Helios Lodge No. 273.

“I’m heavily involved in the lodge but the shrine kids still take my heart away, and I do everything I can for them,” Vice said.

Brown has been a Mason since 1984 when a co-worker asked if he and his sons could help rake leaves at the Shriners Children’s Hospital.

“We visited with the kids and the doctors, we had a great day. It was fun doing something with the kids and the other kids,” Brown said.

For young men that are looking to become a Freemason, there is education that comes along with joining. They can complete their education within two or three months. This would move you from a ‘Mason’ to a ‘Master Mason.’ What you will learn during that time is not easy to discuss as the Masons can’t say.

“It’s not that we have secrets, but there are things that we hold secret,” McNear said.

“Most of the precious secrets are the secrets between brothers,” Brown said.

Masons are proud of the bond and brotherhood that comes with the fraternity.

“If I’ve got something that I want to tell Bill that nobody is ever going to know, I can tell him with full confidence that he will never disclose whatever secret it is,” McNear said.

By becoming a Mason, you will get an opportunity to form friendships with other men of different backgrounds, education and occupations.

“Young men who are 18 years and up who are looking for guidance, I can’t think of a better organization to provide that than Masonry,” Brown said.

For those that are interested, meetings are held every third Tuesday of the month where a dinner is held at 6:30 p.m. Men are welcome meet with other Masons and ask any questions until the closed meeting starts at 7:30 p.m.

For further questions visit their website at

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