Notes from the Northern Light: July-August 2011

Joe Fennick

Wrapped Up in the Dyslexia Center

One moment Illustrious Brother Joe Fennick talks about his daily run on Jenson Beach. Next, the conversation turns toward his latest work to help the New Castle Children’s Dyslexia Center. Each story portrays Joe’s excitement and enthusiasm.

Marian, Joe’s wife, tells the story with a sense of pride and good-natured exasperation more expected when speaking of the exploits of a young scamp than an octogenarian. “When he retired, he needed an outlet for his energy, so I suggested he start walking with me,” Marian relates. It wasn’t long, however, before Joe needed to pick up the pace. He started to jog and then run. Before long he was competing in local road races. From there he began competing in the national Senior Olympics. “Obviously, I lost may walking partner,” Marian laments, with a wry smile.

It was Fennick’s experience with running events that got him involved with the Children’s Dyslexia Center program. Joe says, “The guys who were trying to start one in New Castle were putting on a ‘walk’ event and I agreed to help.” Supported by Fennick’s leadership and persistence, that event has grown substantially, raising well over $10,000 annually.

During these years, Fennick became involved with the Children’s Dyslexia Center and ultimately joined its board of directors. He says, “The center in New Castle is so important. If we weren’t helping these kids with dyslexia, no one would.”

“Joe used to have a side business finding and selling antique Amish quilts,” says Marian. “He had one that had been around the house for about eight years, and it gave him the idea for a raffle.”
Fennick was inspired to raffle a special black and gold quilt which he had customized to honor his region’s NFL team, the Pittsburgh Steelers. He added to its value by getting several Steelers – active and retired – to sign it.

The very first year 1,000 tickets were sold. In each succeeding year, the raffles of similar quilts have also sold out. Fennick remains among the event’s most vigorous ticket sellers. “I imagine we’ve raised more than $30,000 for our Children’s Dyslexia Center through the quilts alone,” he says proudly.

As for the future, Fennick is looking forward to his next national Senior Olympics in Cleveland in 2013. In the meantime, Joe keeps running and works to keep the New Castle Children’s Dyslexia Center running as well.

A First for our Library and Archives

The Van Gorden-Williams Library and Archives, located at Northern Masonic Jurisdiction headquarters in Lexington, MA, has the distinction of being the first Masonic library to add its bibliographic records to the OCLC WorldCat database. WorldCat is the world’s most comprehensive online resource for finding items held in libraries, making those records available to researchers worldwide. WorldCat is a union catalog – accessible at – that allows users to simultaneously search the holdings of the 10,000+ libraries that contribute to it.

The library and archives took this step forward one year ago in an effort to increase its visibility, promote its collections, and help better serve those interested in the unique and important collections. Because of the strength of its Masonic and fraternal collections, the staff anticipated that researchers who didn’t yet know about the library would find it while searching for materials in WorldCat.

During the past year, the staff has seen the results of making information about the collections more “findable” online. The library has received both reference requests and interlibrary-loan requests which were the direct result of people finding the records in WorldCat. Requests came from libraries in Ohio, Illinois, Washington, Oregon, Vermont, and even as far away as The Netherlands.