Ezra McGowan of Hand and Heart Lodge No 4109 and his brother Nathan, in their travels, have seen many situations in our city streets, where people were and still are, just living in tents and makeshift cardboard box homes or just sleeping rough and quite destitute, many through no fault of their own.
Two years ago, Ezra, along with his brother set up a registered charity called The Forget-Me-Not Trust (No 1164359), in order to assist those who were in dire need. Currently self-funded and assisted by donations from sources both Masonic and non-Masonic, the charity also operates a website http://theforgetmenottrust.org.uk.
Between them, the McGowan brothers have set up trailers for use in Manchester, Peterborough and London where they still distribute today proudly displaying the square and compass on their trailers and providing warm food, warm clothing and in really desperate circumstances, hats, gloves and male or female specific toiletries.
The brothers also assist in supplying provisions to local shelter homes and an outreach men’s home in Salford and more recently supported both the local Women’s Institute and PROBUS meetings at Urmston Masonic Hall in providing coffee, tea, biscuits and chocolates.
Not satisfied with all the above, Ezra and Nathan together with a local friend, Robert McKenzie, have set up a food bank in their local community of Northenden. The food bank has been running for just over 12 months now and supporting over 30 local residents for that period and over the festive season, about 40 or so people. Also, every Thursday, Robert runs a game of bingo for the local residents and the Trust supplies a food hamper which Robert raffles.
The money raised to date has taken 30 elderly residents to Blackpool by coach also paying for fish and chips for them all whilst there. This has all been greatly appreciated by all in the local community and is also promoting Freemasonry in the community.
Ezra has always stated that his reasons for this remarkable benevolence are that he has been blessed with success in life, family and business and has also been privileged to have the total enjoyment of support from within Freemasonry. He stresses that the homeless people he meets come from all backgrounds. Some have been successful businessmen fallen on hard times. Others have missed mortgage payments and things have got on top of them reducing them to homelessness. It could happen to each and every one of us. With all this in mind, Ezra feels that it’s time that he and his brother gave something back to society and sees helping the homeless and the much less fortunate as a way to do just that!