About Us | Shriners Hospitals

Origins

SHC, logoFrom its earliest days, the Shriners were known for their philanthropic efforts across the country.

During a yellow fever epidemic in Jacksonville, FL, members of the new Morocco Shrine and Masonic Knights Templar worked long hours to help the sick. In 1889 Shriners came to the aid of the Johnstown, PA, flood victims. In fact, by 1898, there were 50,000 Shriners, and 71 of the 79 temples were engaged in some sort of philanthropic work.

By the early 1900s, the fraternity was growing quickly. And as the fraternity was growing, so was the support for establishing an official charity. Most temples had local philanthropies and sometimes the Shriners' organization offered aid. After the 1906 San Francisco earthquake Shriners sent $25,000 to help the fallen city. Shriners contributed $10,000 for the relief of European war victims. But neither of these efforts nor the projects of individual temples satisfied the membership.

The idea to establish hospitals for children was brought to the membership in 1919 by Freeland Kendrick (P.I.P., Lu Lu Shriners, Philadelphia) after he visited a Scottish Rite Hospital for Crippled Children in Atlanta. This visit made Kendrick aware of the overwhelming need to care for children with orthopedic disorders.

During his tenure as Imperial Potentate in 1919 and 1920, Kendrick traveled more than 150,000 miles, visiting a majority of the 146 Shrine temples and campaigning for the establishment of official philanthropy.

The First Hospital

By June 1922, the cornerstone had been laid for the first Shriners Hospitals for Children® in Shreveport, LA. The first patient admitted in 1922 was a little girl with a clubfoot, who had learned to walk on the top of her foot rather than the sole.

Through the remarkable foresight, commitment and fundraising skills of the Shriners, nearly one million children have been treated at one of the 22 Shriners Hospitals for Children across the United States and in Canada and Mexico.

As a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization, Shriners Hospitals for Children relies on the generous donations of Shriners, corporations and the general public to carry out our mission and improve the lives of children every day.