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Okinawa Shrine Club Celebrates Shriners’ Hospitals for Children

By: Brandon Arakaki

Date Posted: 2000-01-28

The International Shrine Association of North America, also known by many as the Shriners’ Hospitals for Children, has been represented on Okinawa since 1951. Following reception of their charter in 1953, the Okinawa Shrine Club has been working hard on the island, assisting approximately 70 local children suffering from orthopedic and burns disorders. However, there is a new feeling in the group that they can achieve even more, if more people are aware of what they can do.

"We can't help to think there must be more children who might benefit from our assistance if more people knew of our presence and capabilities,” the President and Chairman of the hospital screening committee. "We must get the word out, that we are here, and are willing to assist, so more parents and guardians are aware of their options. It's for this reason that we have renewed a concentrated public awareness campaign on Okinawa this year." The 600.000-plus Shriners all over the world affectionately refer to their organization as “The Greatest Philantrophy in the World.” The heart and soul of the Shrine are the Shriners Hospitals for Children. These hospitals - 19 orthopedic units and three burns institutes, help thousands of children each year, absolutely free of charge. The hospitals help children who have problems of the bones, joints or muscles, or who have been severely burned. Three of these 22 hospitals also specialize in treating children with spinal cord injuries. In addition to the medical care provided to children by Shriners’ Hospitals, most of the hospitals are also actively engaged in research, striving to find cures to crippling childhood diseases, and better treatments for burn injuries.

The three-fold purpose of Shriners’ Hospitals for Children is first, to save children's lives and restore their bodies to the highest level of usefulness; secondly, to conduct research into orthopedic and burn care; and thirdly, to train physicians and other medical professionals in the treatment of orthopedic disabilities and burn injuries. In addition to offering a wide range of specialized medical and rehabilitation services, the Shriners Burns Institutes use a unique family centered treatment approach which involves the patient's family in the recovery process. This philosophy stresses that while medicine might heal the child's body, tending to the child's sense of well being is equally important to his or her recovery.

Children from infancy to their 18th birthday can benefit from the services of the Shriners’ medical units if, in the opinion of the chief of staff, there is a reasonable possibility that the child will benefit from treatment. The Shriners are also a relief in situations where medical care at another facility would place a financial burden on the patient's family or guardian.

Shriners Hospitals are open to all children, regardless of their race, religion, country of origin, or relationship to a Shriner. According to authorities at Shriners, there is no charge on patients for any of the medical care orservices received at Shriners hospitals, including outpatient and inpatient care, diagnostic services, surgery, medical care, casts, braces, X-rays, rehabilitation programs, recreation and continuation of their education as well as round trip transportation for the patient and parent from the country of origin to the hospital facility. No payments are ever sought or received from any insurance company or government agency.

“The Shrine philanthropy is supported by each Shriner's annual hospital assessment, hospital fund-raising events and by contributions, gifts and bequests of our many friends who want to make an ‘Investment in Humanity’,” Rick Danielson, the Okinawa Shriners’ Chairman says.

The Okinawa Shrine Club will be sponsoring one such fund raising event on Friday, March 3rd. Everyone interested in patronizing and encouraging philantrophic work can attend the festivities, which will be held at the Butler Officer's Club. Cocktails and entertainment begin at 6:00 p.m., with dinner being served at 7:00 p.m. The event will be conducted in English and Japanese. The organizers are also promising professional entertainment and fabulous door prizes for a worthy cause that evening.

Donations are $25.00 per ticket. This fee will cover events for the entire evening. Access to the base for non-SOFA, non-Pass holders will be arranged in advance. On the following day, the Okinawa Shrine Club will be in front of the Foster Exchange between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. to further promote awareness of its activities.

For ticket information, additional information on Shriners’ Hospitals for Children and their support system; or if you now know a child that may benefit from the Shriners’ assistance, contact the Okinawa Shrine Club President at 956-0544 or 0903-792-5159.

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