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Hancock man serves on Ali Ghan Shrine Divan

March 13, 2003|by ANDREA ROWLAND

andrear@herald-mail.com

HANCOCK - For Fran Shives, being a Shriner is all about fellowship and philanthropy.

And he hopes his new leadership role at the local Shrine Temple will enable him to drum up more interest in Shrine membership, and promote the long-standing fraternal organization's fund-raisers, to better serve children in need, he said.

Shives, 56, is the first Hancock resident to serve on the Ali Ghan Shrine's Divan - or line of officers - since 1934. He was installed as the Shrine's Oriental Guide in January, he said.

One of two Shrine Temples in Maryland, the Ali Ghan Shrine in Cumberland, Md., serves about 1,200 members from Oakland to Mt. Airy, said Shives, a member since 1988. Ali Ghan is one of 191 formal Shrine Temples in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Panama that host about 525,000 members, according to the Shrine of North America Web site.

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Informal Shrine clubs are located throughout the world.

All Shriners' activities are geared toward fostering honest friendships and raising funds for the Shriners hospitals that offer free treatment for children with orthopedic problems, burns and spinal cord injuries, Shives said.

Shriners Hospitals have provided free medical care to more than 600,000 children since the first hospital opened its doors about 75 years ago, according to the Shriners Web site.

"Our main goal is the children who need help," Shives said. "Obviously, the more members we have and the more money we raise, the more we can help the kids."

He plans to help promote such Shriners events as the annual Ali Ghan Shrine Circus - to be held at Hagerstown Community College on April 12th and in Frostburg, Md., on April 13 - to bolster funds raised for the hospitals, he said.

Shives is also focusing on getting more Shriners involved with worthwhile activities by extending invitations to committee planning meetings, he said.

But Shrine membership isn't all about charitable work. Shriners enjoy a wealth of social activities that help forge strong friendships, Shives said.

"There's something going on all the time," he said. "I think the more the public finds out about all we do, the more interest there will be in joining."

The Ali Ghan Shrine hosts family picnics, dances, golf tournaments, bull roasts, card parties and such themed events as an Hawaiian luau. And Shriners' strict adherence to the three principles of freemasonry - brotherly love, relief and truth - means members can always count upon each other, Shives said.

All Shriners are Freemasons who have worked their way up through three degrees by learning Masonic lessons and rituals and participating in ceremonies that illustrate them. A third-degree, or master, Mason can petition to become a Noble of the Shrine, said Shives, who helps with new member initiations at the Ali Ghan Shrine.

"It's a brotherhood," he said. "Shriners help each other, and you'll never catch Shriners lying to each other."

His position as Oriental Guide places him fourth in line to the Shrine's top post of potentate, a job now held by Shriner Charles Johnson. If he performs his duties well, Shives said, he will ascend each year through the leadership positions of high priest and prophet, assistant rabban and chief rabban before assuming the role of potentate.

For now, he is learning the ropes.

"Oriental guide is basically a learning position. I'm an apprentice," said Shives, who departed for Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday for a two-day oriental guide school to brush up on Shrine law, finances, history and protocol.

As Oriental guide, he is responsible for preparing the Shrine for meetings, helping with elections and budgeting, and organizing the Shrine's annual family picnic in July, Shives said.

A retired Clear Spring Middle School teacher, he devotes much of his time to his work with the Shrine, Hancock Lions Club and Kentucky Colonels Club of Western Maryland.

Shives serves as president of the Kentucky Colonels - a service organization that recently donated $500 to help transport children and their families to Shriners hospitals - and will be inducted as the Lions Club's president on July 1, he said.

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