On August 19, 2017, the Masonic Home welcomed its 105th Jam and Jelly Day. Every year since 1912, the East Bay Past Matrons’ Association of the Order of the Eastern Star has organized the event on the Union City campus. Founded by Worthy Matron of Oak Leaf Chapter No. 8 Henrietta McGregor, the purpose of the event was originally “to encourage social discourse and give a spirit of mutual helpfulness among it’s members. To give cheer and assistance to members and other persons related to members of the Masonic Order and to promote whatever may be for the general welfare of the East Bay Chapters of the Order of the Eastern Star.”
Beginning that year, the third Saturday of August was set aside for this tradition. In its earliest iterations, Jam and Jelly Day’s events were closely aligned with its name: Ladies of the local Order of the Eastern Star would come to the Masonic Home with their canning equipment to harvest, clean, and prepare jams and jellies on the spot for residents from the Home’s bountiful fruit orchards. Other members sent personal donations of jams and jellies from their own households. As health restrictions tightened and this was no longer possible, the Eastern Star’s event evolved into purchasing jams, jellies, and other needed gifts for Masonic Homes residents, including clothing, games, stationary, and crafting materials. At this year’s event, donations included card tables and portable chairs for the Masonic Home’s auditorium and puzzle room.
JoAnne Wright, a two time past matron, has earned the nickname “Miss Jam and Jelly” for her eight-year term as chairperson of the Jam and Jelly Committee. She began volunteering at the Masonic Home 11 years ago and has a special affinity for the event, which brings together local Eastern Star members to honor the Masonic Homes residents.
She explains that a meaningful part of the donation is yarn and knitting equipment that are used throughout the year by the Masonic Home’s Nifty Needles group. This group of charitable residents and volunteers creates
In addition to their gifts to Masonic Homes residents, each year, local Eastern Star chapters host the grand officers of the Grand Lodge of California and Masonic Homes residents to a lunch on campus. This year’s lunch included 325 guests. Each grand lodge officer was escorted by a Masonic Home resident. Deputy Grand Master Bruce R. Galloway had the honor of being escorted by the eldest Masonic Homes resident, Betty Ehle, 103.
A special focus of the annual event is presenting a “quilt of valor” to a resident veteran, created by the Amador Valley Quilters, who sew the red, white, and blue blankets by hand. This year’s recipient was Jerry Journey, past grand chaplain of the Grand Lodge of California and a past potente of the Aahmes Shrine. Journey, who was the master of ceremonies at the event, was especially touched by this gesture.