During his time at the Masonic Children’s Home, Techeal “Tech” has transitioned from a little boy to a strong, confident young man who is ready to take on the world.

Tech, one of four seniors graduating from Elizabethtown Area High School this May, entered the children’s home when he was 9 years old and in the fourth grade. At school, he took part in sports and excelled academically.

“These 10 years have flown by, but these last four years have really helped me grow into the man I am today,” he said.

Throughout high school, Tech played basketball. Besides being fun, the sport taught him life lessons, life skills and helped him learn more about himself.

“With sports, I learned how to work in a team environment and to persevere during tough times on and off the court,” he said. “Without basketball, I wouldn’t be the man
I am today, and I truly believe that high school basketball has helped prepare me for the next step in life.”

That would be attending Penn State Berks, where Tech received the Penn State Provost Award, awarding him $24,000 over four years. He hopes to become a physical therapist in the future so he can help fellow athletes.

“I was pretty excited when I saw I got the award, since I had never directly applied for it,” he said. “My parents are thrilled, as well as my three brothers.”

His brothers, Shedrack, Cyrus and Anthony, all live at the children’s home.

“We are really close,” he said.

Academics and sports weren’t Tech’s only priorities during high school. During his time at the children’s home, he worked part-time as a busser at the Masonic Health Care Center. Currently, he helps provide activities for children through Greater Elizabethtown Area Recreation and Community Services (GEARS).

“Working at GEARS has helped me find a new passion, which is working with children,” Tech said. “Physical therapy is still my main passion, but if it doesn’t work out, I know I have a second option to fall back on.”

Tech said it is bittersweet to be leaving high school and the children’s home and moving on in life.

“My time in high school and the children’s home has been really special,” he said. “Masonic was more like a family. When I went home and came back, I wouldn’t feel bad, because this was my second family. But I am also excited to close this chapter in my life, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.”

Noelia arrived at the children’s home in second grade, four years after her older brother, Nestor, came to live there.

During her time at the children’s home, she has participated in sports and other extracurricular activities, while working part-time at Masonic Village at Elizabethtown in the dietary department of the Masonic Health Care Center.

During her time at Elizabethtown Area High School, Noelia played softball, where she learned new skills and developed a sense of teamwork and camaraderie. In addition to other activities, she was co-president of the Pep Club and a member of Student Council, where she developed a weekly teacher recognition program. She was also the “media design captain” for Mini-THON, a student-run philanthropy that helps support children and families impacted by childhood cancer.

“I can personally relate to this [cause] because a childhood friend back in Philadelphia lost her fight with leukemia,” she said. “If I had a chance to make an impact, I wanted to help in any way possible.”

Noelia will attend Northampton Community College (Bethlehem) this fall to major in radiology. She learned about the field while taking photography classes in high school. The details from the photographs caught her attention, and she decided to get more familiar with radiology and take science classes. She realized she was interested in imaging the body and wanted to pursue a career in the future.

She said she will miss the friendships home. She came out of her shell and developed as a person.

“When I’m around the kids, it is so much fun and easy. When I leave, I know I’ll have to focus on ‘adulting.’

“Because of donors, I’ve been able to get the things that I need for college, like books, electronics and clothing,” she added. “I don’t have to worry
or stress about it ahead of time. I’m grateful for this opportunity.”

Cassandra “Cassie” came to the children’s home when she was 7 years old. She spent her senior year at the Mount Joy campus of the Lancaster Career & Technology Center and plans to attend Millersville University to prepare for a career working with children. She has enjoyed many of the opportunities she has been given at the children’s home, from summer vacations at the beach to receiving help with academics.

“I’ve definitely grown as a person,” she said. “Back when I came here, I was a lot more shy, but being here has helped me come out of that shell and become a very social person.

“I have a lot to be grateful for. I have learned so much in my 11 years at the children’s home.”

Rina grew up in southwest Philadelphia, where she attended an inner-city school. Her father decided to move her and her brother to Elizabethtown in 2015 to get a better education.

At first, she felt out of place, but the school offered her the opportunity to participate in track and field, and the children’s home allowed her to take karate classes.

“Once I joined sports, I felt more involved in the school and I had the opportunity to meet new people,” she said. “I was a quiet kid, but I became more sociable.”

She later quit sports to focus exclusively on schoolwork, prepare for college and earn funds for college. Rina is currently taking nursing classes at Harrisburg Area Community College and working at a Subway restaurant in Elizabethtown.

After graduation, Rina will be attending Lincoln University and majoring in nursing with a minor in psychology. She will continue to work, as well.

After earning her degree, she plans to stay at Lincoln or attend another college to pursue her master’s degree in nursing science. She hopes to become a pediatrician.

“My aunt told me I was really patient and good with kids and said I should go into the nursing field because we need more nurses,” she said. “It’s a lot of studying, but if I
really like the subject, I will actually learn and get better and get more knowledge about the medical field.”

She said she will miss the house parents at the children’s home.

“I talk to them daily and tell them my problems,” she said. “I’ll definitely keep in contact with them.”

She said she’s learned over the years to express herself and not be afraid to be herself.

“Nobody will judge you here,” she said. “You will fit in anywhere. There are people at Masonic who truly love you and make you feel safe.”