Family Benefit Recipients

2017 Family Benefit Recipients

Dec 11, 2017

Western Fraternal Life's Family Benefit program continues to assist members in need. So far, Western has provided $35,000 to members since starting the benefit in 2011. The Family Benefit provides up to five, $1,000 awards annually for costs associated with senior care, child care, respite care, elementary and secondary education, or extracurricular activities. Applications are accepted from May 1 to July 1 each year, and winners are decided by an independent third party. Application information can be found at this link. The following are recipients of the 2017 Family Benefit grants.


The Kersten family received the Family Benefit check from lodge Secretary Diane Grimmer.


Ronald and Jamie Kersten, of No. 20, Whitelaw, WI, received a $1,000 Family Benefit to assist with medical costs for their son, Cody Kersten, who was hit by an unlicensed driver in June of 2016. There was no financial help from the driver to pay the bills. Cody had to endure an extensive recovery period and unfortunately passed away in August at the age of 29.

The family held a benefit on August 5 and gave away free helmets to kids, in recognition of the helmet that saved Cody's life. The event promoted wearing a helmet every single time. They also offered adult power of attorney's and blood/organ donation sign ups.


 Jeremy Miller's family.


Jeremy Miller's family, of No. 203, Glasco, KS, received a $1,000 Family Benefit to assist with costs related to his diagnosis of Koolen de Vries Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder.

The family discovered that although the disease is rare, and they don't have many answers, they can connect with other families at a conference every summer. The two geneticists who first discovered it, Dr. Koolen and Dr. DeVries, presents new information at the conference, and the family made plans to attend.


Benjamin Blecha with President Howard Blecha. 


Benjamin Blecha of No. 84, Table Rock, NE was a recipient of the Family Benefit money. Since birth, he has dealt with multiple heath issues and has had 60 major surgeries resulting from Caudal Regression Syndrome and Spina Bifida. As a child, he had an at the knee amputation and became proficient on crutches. In April 2017, Benjamin had three stomach surgeries within a week and spent almost three weeks in the hospital. He is not able to use his crutches at this time and is confined to a wheel chair. The Family Benefit money went towards building a ramp so that Benjamin could travel to and from his home.


 Alan Matus received the Family Benefit.


Alan Matus, No. 332, Weyerhaeuser, WI received the Family Benefit to aid in ongoing financial obligations due to health issues. At 41-years-old in 1992, Alan suffered a heart attack and had triple bypass surgery. He was forced to sell his herd of cows and quit farming. Between 1998 and 2000, Alan had two spinal surgeries, one resulting in adding rods and pins to his spine. In 2005, Alan was diagnosed with Lyme disease and has had many recurrences. He suffered another heart attack in 2016 and in 2017 Alan had a stroke that left him with paralysis of the left arm, leg, and slurred speech. The Family Benefit grant will go towards medication and paying medical bills.


 Leland and Ann Estes were presented with the Family Benefit.


Leland and Ann Estes of No. 44, Hayward, MN were recipients of the Family Benefit grant to assist with financial struggles they faced since 2009 with the loss of their daughter. Having to pay for the funeral and her student loans they co-signed for became too much of a burden. Soon after, Leland had open heart surgery and Ann had surgery on her shoulders and bicep. Due to these health issues, Ann became disabled and Leland retired. In May, they had to replace a broken water main and cracked sewer pipe with money withdrawn from an annuity. With the Family Benefit money, they hope to pay down bills and re-establish their annuity for more security in retirement.

Category: Member Benefits

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