The Shrine of North America is known for its colorful parades, circuses and clowns. But there is also a serious side to this international fraternity of approximately 375,000 men belonging to 191 Shrine Temples, or chapters, throughout North America. For a little over 85 years, the Shrine has operated a world-class network of specialized hospitals that treat children with orthopaedic conditions, burns of all degrees, spinal cord injuries and cleft lip and palate, up to their 18th birthday, free of charge.
The Shrine was founded in 1872 by a group of 13 men belonging to the Masonic Order. It was originally established to provide fun and fellowship for its members. But as the organization grew, its members decided to dedicate their efforts to helping others by establishing an official Shrine philanthropy — a network of specialized hospitals that have provided expert medical care to more than 835,000 children, free of charge.
Since the first Shriners Hospital opened in Shreveport, La., in 1922, the Shrine has supported what has come to be known as the "World's Greatest Philanthropy." The Shrine and its 22 hospitals, while maintaining separate legal and financial identities, are linked through the Shrine's continuing support of Shriners Hospitals.
In 2007, Shriners Hospitals for Children approved 39,454 new patient applications, cared for 125,125 patients and provided the following services:
· 226,455 radiology procedures;
· 302,614 outpatient, outreach and telemedicine visits;
· 72,159 orthotic and prosthetic devices;
· 25,028 operations;
· 422,325 physical therapy treatments; and
· 200,810 occupational therapy treatments.
The Shriners Hospitals’ total budget for 2008 is US$ 826 million, of which US$ 722 million is targeted for operating expenses (including US$ 44 million for research) and US$ 104 million for buildings and equipment expenditures. Since 1922, Shriners Hospitals for Children have spent approximately US$ 8.9 billion to operate the 22 hospitals and over US$ 1.83 billion for construction and renovation.
The best known symbol of Shrinedom is the distinctive red fez that Shriners wear at official functions. Because Shriners are men who enjoy life, fun is a large part of the Shrine and the activities that help support the Shrine's philanthropy. Most Shrine Temples sponsor Shrine Clubs and special units, such as the motor corps, band or clown units and many other units of interest. They share in the camaraderie, deep friendships and good fellowship that are all part of being a Shriner.
The Mission of the Shriners is to be the Premiere Fraternal Organization for men of good character; committed to providing attractive, quality programs and services for its members, their families and friends in a spirit of fun, fellowship and social camaraderie; fostering self improvement through leadership, education, the perpetuation of moral values and community involvement; and serving mankind through the resources of its great philanthropy, the Shriners Hospitals for Children.
The Shriners Creed
Shriners believe in God and that He created man to serve His purposes, among which is service to others in His name.
We believe that care for the less fortunate, especially children who suffer from burns and crippling diseases, is our institutional calling.
We are patriots, each willing to serve his country with fidelity and courage. We cherish independence under law and freedom with responsibility.
We honor family. We respect our parents, wives and children. We should instill in our children the tenets of this creed, and the heritage from which it emanates.
As individuals we pledge ourselves to integrity, virtue and nobility of character. Our intentions will be honorable, our relations will be trustworthy and our spirits forgiving of each other.
As brothers we offer each other fraternal affection and respect. Together we will support each other in adherence to this creed, so that we and our communities will be the better because of our fraternity and its principles.
As Shriners we look beyond ourselves to serve the needs of others, especially children who cannot help themselves. We believe Shriners Hospitals to be the world's greatest philanthropy, and we covenant with each other to support its "temples of mercy" with spirit, time, talent and means.