Shriners International is a fraternity based on fun, fellowship and the Masonic principles of brotherly love, relief and truth. There are approximately 340,000 members from 193 temples (chapters) in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the Philippines, Puerto Rico and the Republic of Panama. Our main philanthropic purpose is the support of Shriners Hospitals for Children® which were founded in 1922.
Shriners Hospitals for Children® is a health care system of 22 hospitals dedicated to improving the lives of children by providing pediatric specialty care, innovative research, and outstanding teaching programs for medical professionals. Children up to age 18 with orthopaedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries, and cleft lip and palate are eligible for care and receive all services in a family-centered environment.
All children who receive medical care at these hospitals, do so with no financial obligation to them or their families, thanks to the efforts of Shriners and other generous supporters. In addition, many Shriners Hospitals for Children® facilities are engaged in medical research and are affiliated with the top academic medical institutions in North America.
Shriners Hospitals for Children® focus on four specialized areas of care:
Orthopaedic Care medical and rehabilitative services for children with congenital deformities and conditions, problems resulting from orthopaedic injuries, and diseases of the neuromusculoskeletal system.
Burn Care treatment for acute and non-acute burn injuries and related scarring, along with physical rehabilitation and emotional support.
Spinal Cord Injury spinal cord injury rehabilitation specifically for children, offering some of the most advanced treatment in the country, with full range of services.
Cleft Lip and Palate Care coordinated, comprehensive multidisciplinary care for children with this condition.
Today, Shriners International continues to support the hospitals by raising funds, assisting patients families with transportation, volunteering on hospital boards and much more.
Short History of the Shriners
Shriners International is, at its most basic level, a fraternity.
It all started in Manhattan in 1870 when some members of whats considered the worlds oldest fraternity Masonry were hanging out at their favorite tavern. They felt that Masonry, which traces its roots to stonemasons and craftsmen of the Middle Ages, was a tad too focused on ritual. These guys wanted a fraternity that stressed fun and fellowship.
Two of those gentlemen Walter M Fleming, M.D., and Billy Florence, an actor took that idea and ran with it. Florence came up with the idea for a Near Eastern-themed party after attending a party thrown by an Arabian diplomat. Fleming added the structure, drafting the fraternitys name, initiation rites, rituals and rules. Together, Fleming and Florence designed the fraternitys emblem, devised a salutation and determined that the red fez with the black tassel would be the groups official headgear.
The first chapter, Mecca Shriners, met in New York City in 1872. As word got out about the fledgling organization, membership grew rapidly, spreading across the U.S. In the early 1900s, membership spread into Canada, Mexico and Panama. Today there are approximately 340,000 Shriners belonging to 193 chapters in the U.S., Mexico, the Philippines, Puerto Rico and the Republic of Panama.