Golden Eagles help physically challenged

Rose Hawkins, Correspondent

Independent News

“Our soul purpose for existence is to assist people with medical problems who can't help themselves,” said Earl Lomax who is quick to explain the purpose of the Scottish Rite Golden Eagles. “We survive by donations made by people who no longer have need of the medical equipment.”

Lomax, and his wife, Sharon, manage one of the charitable sides of the 32nd degree Masons. By referral, they provide the medical equipment to people who need the items.  

The equipment - hospital beds, crutches, commodes, walkers, wheel chairs, etc - are donated to the Scottish Rite Golden Eagles by families or individuals when they no longer need them. The items are then loaned, at no cost, for either a few hours, days, or indefinitely. 

However, they ask that the equipment be returned to them in the same condition when it is no longer needed. They sometimes have motorized wheel chairs, but the borrower must pay for the two batteries it takes, which cost $150 - $200.  

“C.R.I.S. is one of the most frequent referrals,” Mrs. Lomax said. “But we have a growing number of referring organizations, such as Love, Inc, Faith in Action, Lutheran Social Services, Visiting Nurses, besides hospitals, other medical personnel, churches or someone who has borrowed from us before.” 

C.R.I.S. is a Healthy Aging Center, private, not-for-profit organization, governed by a community board of directors, serving older adults with Adult Protective Services, Senior Nutrition (Meals on Wheels), Care-giver Advisory Services, just to name a few.

“We keep our supply of equipment in Georgetown in a warehouse owned by John McBride. By his charitable heart, he makes the space available to us at no cost. He is such a wonderful person. And we thank him sincerely!” 

“When we get the call we check them out fairly thorough, then we have them meet us at the warehouse. They have to come and get the item(s) - we no longer deliver. If a ramp is needed for a wheel chair, we have coordinated with the Vermilion County Handicap Association who builds ramps for individuals that cannot afford it. We don't compete with businesses either, if someone can afford to buy or rent the equipment, we send them in that direction,” said Lomax.

Lomax, who recently had open-heart surgery, is proud of the fact that “we are international,” he says with a big smile. “A missionary on leave here in the states, needed a wheel chair for a family member. When we gave it to him, he asked when it was due back. I told him, when he didn't need it anymore. He thought that meant when they left the states. I told him, no, it's when he doesn't need it anymore. So we have a wheelchair in Africa,” he beamed. 

The Scottish Rite Golden Eagles have been doing this service for over twenty-five years, with Lomax managing it for about fifteen. “I couldn't do it all by myself,” he said. 

“I have a significant amount of help from the business staff Jim Gilliland, Tom Lomax, Sr, Tom Lomax Jr, Montel Smith, and until recently the late John Deck.   And, of course, the Scottish Rite Organization. Don't leave out that we are blessed with a group of wives who assist us significantly!”

They hold monthly planning meetings, and every third meeting consists of a dinner meeting with the 18-20 members, their wives, some of their supporters and some they have helped, going out to eat together. They have a short business meeting to attend to any business needed, collect the annual 'dues' and enjoy the time together. “Widows always eat free,” he emphasized. 

“Our membership is always very generous,” Lomax said. “Not long ago, we were able to donate $500 to the Dyslexic Center of the Mason's in Danville. The Dyslexic Center accepts kids that have dyslexia and helps them learn how to overcome it. All at no cost.”

Children with dyslexia have trouble identifying words, recognizing the sounds that make up words, understanding and remembering what is read, translating printed words into spoken words, spelling, organizing or sequencing thoughts, rhyming words, and/or learning the alphabet and numbers during preschool and kindergarten.

The Scottish Rite Golden Eagles is just one of the charitable branches of the Masons. Other branches are Shriners, Grotto, Eastern Star, Rainbow Girls, Jobs' Daughters and the Masonic Nursing Home, all dedicated to service to the community. 

The Lomax's can be reached at 217-662-9919.

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