The Indiana County Shrine Club was organized in 1951. The first meetings were held in the basement of the Zion Lutheran Church in Indiana. Dr. Wilbur Black was elected President of the new club. The line of officers for the club is made up of members from all areas of the county which include: Armagh, Blairsvillc, Brush Valley, New Florence, Robinson, Homer City, Black Lick, Indiana Borough, White Township, Shelocta, Clymer, Commodore, Cherry Tree, Hillsdale, Marion Center, Creekside, Heilwood, Penn Run and Gas Center.
The purpose of the Indiana County Shrine Club is the same as that of Jaffa Shrine — fellowship through Masonic Brotherhood to support Jaffa Temple and the Shrine Hospitals and Burns Centers. To achieve this purpose, special committees have been set up.
The First Aid Unit is the Club project that serves the Shrine as well as the Indiana County Shrine Club. This committee was formed in 1963 when Potentate Dr. Donald Wolford contacted Lloyd Bastian and Harold Nesbitt suggesting a project for the Indiana County Shrine Club. Nobles Nesbitt and Bastian headed up a committee to get the project started — an ambulance to use for all Temple functions. Glen Stake donated a used bread truck to be converted into an ambulance (WW II style). Fred Weitzel built in cabinets for first-aid supplies. Wally Young carpeted the interior. Bill Lingenfelter built a stainless-steel water cooler for ice water for the unit members in parades. All time and materials for the project were donated by members of the Club. The “Bread (meat) Wagon” was seen in all Jaffa parades, Mid-Atlantic Shrine Association Convention parades, some Imperial Shrine Convention parades and all local parades.
In 1969, the Indiana County Shrine Club bought a used Cadillac ambulance, painted it Shrine colors, had it lettered properly and used it for all Shrine functions, transportation of children to and from Shrine Hospitals and Burn Centers and volunteer emergency work with certified personnel throughout Indiana and surrounding areas.
After a good number of miles were recorded on the second ambulance, the First-Aid Committee appointed by J. Ward Oakes was instructed to look for a later model and in the spring of 1977, a 1974 Cadillac valued in excess of $10,000 was bought. Funds to pay for this new ambulance were raised through many different projects — Camel Rider parties, Chicken BBQ dinners with the DeMolay boys working right alongside to provide their donation. Hemlock parties, picnics, trips, sales of belt buckles — “anything to make a buck” for the club. The ambulance and a car load of Shrine Club officers appear in all parades in Indiana County and anywhere in Jaffa jurisdiction promoting Shrinedom and our club projects.
Of the many projects of the Indiana Shrine Club, sending Indiana County children to the annual Jaffa Shrine Circus is one of the most outstanding. Members of the Club buy and donate tickets to send 1350 to 1500 students to the circus every year. According to Jaffa records, over 90 percent of the Indiana County Shrine Club members buy circus tickets and participate in this activity.
Club members are kept well informed about activities such as the Ladies Night Party, Stag Picnic, trips, parties, fund-raisers, annual meeting and all committee meetings. All activities contribute towards membership committee work. Prospective members are invited to club activities and, invariably, the Noble bringing a guest signs the guest up as a member. Approximately 10 percent of the Indiana County Shrine Club members are holders of the Samsar award for signing up new members in Jaffa Shrine. Three members have earned the Diamond award for their Samsar.
Club meetings are centered around the various committee meetings. Committee meetings are scheduled at the annual meeting for the year’s activities. Any member may attend any committee meeting to participate in the preparation for that committee’s activities.
We have had 3 past Presidents of the Club, who were elected to become Potentates of Jaffa Shrine — Lloyd E. Bastian, P.P. in 1962; Dale W. Woomer, P.P. in 1983; and G. Max Steele, P.P. in 1992.
The 1974 Cadillac was replaced by a used Ford Van and later used a 1978 Chevrolet Van, which was replaced due to high mileage, for trips to Erie Hospital, Cincinnati Hospital and Philadelphia Hospital. A new 2001 MC Van was purchased and is in service at the present time. We still make many trips to the three hospitals transporting children for needed care. Vans are purchased with funds raised by various functions of the Indiana County Shrine Club.
The activities of the Shrine Club remain similar to the early days. They include Ladies Night, Stag Picnic, Go-To-Church Sunday, Past Presidents Night, and various other activities. The Indiana County Shrine Club meetings are held the second Wednesday of every month.