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Former Chairman of the Board Reflects on His Time As a Shriner

I was inspired to become a Shriner shortly after I became a Mason and joined the Valley of Allentown Scottish Rite. At that time, one had to be a consistory member in order to become a Shriner, and I then became a member of Rajah Shriners. I was honored to be a member of both organizations. I learned about Shriners early on in my masonic journey and what inspired me the most was the charitable mission and support to the Shriners Children’s healthcare system.

Three key things make Shriners Children’s so special: 1) The children and their families who are in need of our services. Their ability to overcome such adversity has been an inspiration to me. 2) A unique support system from the Shriners International fraternity, which provides support, transportation and funds for our hospitals. And, 3) The highest quality hospital staff (both medical and non-medical) that provide a variety of care for our patients and manage our hospitals.

I have been a Shriner for 16 years and am honored to have served as a board member of the Philadelphia hospital for 9 years, plus one year as an associate member. I am grateful to serve as vice-chairman of the Philadelphia board for two of those nine years, as well as chairman for two years. Besides the board membership, I have remained active with donor relations at the Philadelphia hospital, not only through my own giving, but I have also been influential in encouraging others to give as well. I have many friends and clients who donate to the hospital and offer charitable bequests to Shriners Children’s in their estate planning.

Former Chairman of the Board, Jon Swartz

Shriners Children's Philadelphia's Former Chairman of the Board, Jon Swartz

The Shriners Children’s mission has persevered because it evolves to best address the needs of our patients and their families. For example, we have raised countless funds to provide the best and latest medical equipment for our patients. One of the most memorable is EOS, which replaced many of the X-rays (and high radioactivity) previously used. Another example is the shift toward outpatient procedures as technology advances. Because of this shift, the amount of time in the hospital for recovery has significantly decreased. Shriners Children's Philadelphia, like many other facilities in our healthcare system, has made serious adjustments to its model of care to be not only more accessible to more patients, but to also use the latest in medical technology to make the procedures and recovery times as efficient as possible.

Celebrating the 150th anniversary of Shriners International means that fraternal organizations like ours can be tied to an honorable charitable purpose and survive indefinitely.

There are many special memories of times spent with patients and their families, hospital staff and other active Shriners over the years. One that comes to mind was a video shoot at the hospital when I was playing Uno with a patient and his sister while being filmed. I hardly remembered the filming was taking place because of the discussions and the fun we had while playing cards.

I love being a Shriner because spending time with the fraternity and at the hospital has done more to make me a better person and improve my well-being than I could have ever imagined.

Jon Swartz accepting donation

Jon Swartz accepts a donation from former patient, Nancy, on behalf of Shriners Children's Philadelphia

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