Sisters of Brooklyn’s Past Illustrative Matron’s Conclave of the Independent United Order of Mechanics (IUOM), Friendly Society, Western Hemisphere, Inc. on Saturday distributed holiday care packages to residents of the Albermarle Family Shelter in Flatbush, Brooklyn.
According to Hyacinth Robinson-Goldson, IUOM’s Jamaican-born Community Liaison and Worthy Past Secretary of the Conclave, residents received, among other items, hygiene and hair care products, body wash, lotion, disinfectant, gloves, masks, towels and wash rags.
She told Caribbean Life recently that gifts were also distributed to several children and teenagers who reside with their families at the shelter.
Robinson-Goldson and Sharon Murray, site director at the Albermarle Family Shelter, coordinated the event.
Robinson-Goldson said members of the Conclave and their families assisted in “carefully wrapping the packages in the spirit of the holiday season.”
“To whom much is given, much is expected,” said Grace Howell, owner of Cinderella House of Beauty in the Bronx and Worthy Past Illustrative Matron of the Alpha District Past Illustrative Matron’s Conclave, in quoting Luke 12:48, as she packed items for delivery to residents at the Albermarle Family Shelter.
Robinson-Goldson said Sheldon Brown, member of St. Matthews Lodge #1 and district grand junior deacon of King Solomon District Grand Lodge #1, both IUOM members, “cheerfully assisted the sisters with unloading the packages at the site.”
“This is s a great endeavor,” said Gary Miller, district grand master of the Alpha District Grand Lodge #1 (New York), the district leader under which the Conclave is regulated and governed. “I will definitely commit the district to make a contribution to this cause.”
“You can see the need,” said Gloria Lewis-Francis, Jamaican-born Worthy Past Chaplain of the Conclave, who took her grandson along to assist with the distribution.
“We should definitely come back to help in any way we can”, said Shirley Beaton, a Guyanese born member of the Conclave.
“This is our way of giving back to the community”, chimed in Ann Maldonado, a Trinidadian-born member of the Conclave.
Moved by compassion, Vanica Robinson-Smith, another Jamaican-born member of the Conclave, said: “I am so sorry I could not bring some more. But next time, I’ll definitely know what to do”, as she proudly displayed the infant sweater she personally crocheted for the holiday give-away.
“This is a real worthy cause”, said Joy Whyte, sister of Audrey Whyte, a Guyanese-born member of the Conclave, who represented her sister at the event.
As a transitional facility, Murray said “there are always families coming and going,” and that there is always “a need for the gifts.”
Robinson-Goldson said the Conclave is one of 28 district grand lodges, under Alpha District Grand Lodge #1, (New York), which governs lodges, chapters, conclaves, encampments and youth sectors within IUOM.
She said members are inducted into the Conclave on elevation to the rank of Past Illustrative Matron, having served in leadership roles within their local chapters.
Robinson-Goldson said members meet to hone their skills in the “Art of Mechanism” through lectures and workshops, and preserve uniformity and enhance leadership skills in the chapters of which they become mentors and advisors to young members of the Order.
“We are almost a little UN (United Nations),” she said.
Members are from several countries, including Guyana, Panama, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, Barbados, Belize, Venezuela and the United States.
In New York, Robinson-Goldson said members reside in, among others, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, Westchester, Yonkers and Long Island.
Howell, who was unable to personally help distribute the holiday packages on Saturday, the busiest day at her parlor, said: “We would like to make this an annual event.
“I feel confident that my sisters did a good job” said Howell, who was installed into office by Alpha District Grand Lodge in 2017 and has been serving as leader of the Conclave since that time.
“Last year, we celebrated 50 years of existence, and I feel proud to be a part of this Conclave and will continue to serve with my family in any way I can,” she added.