When Antonio “Tony” Cimarra thinks about charity, he pictures his childhood home in the Philippines. “My mom would cook soup and put it out front for the neighborhood kids,” he says. “Growing up, I didn’t fully realize that what she was doing was charity.”
At age 24, Tony and his wife left the Philippines and came to the U.S. It was a struggle to belong, he says – new job, new friends, new culture. But when he became a Mason, he felt accepted right away.
“The Masons I’d seen in the Philippines were judges and senators,” he says. “I thought I could never be part of it. But once I joined, I realized that whether you’re a doctor or lawyer or plumber, the fraternity treats you the same. That was very important to me, especially as an immigrant.”
Tony says that Masonry is teaching him to be a better father, husband, son – even a better driver, he notes with humor. When he lived in the Philippines, an unspoken “law of intimidation” ruled the road. These days, to get through rush hour, he invokes Masonry instead.
“My wife knows the trick,” he laughs. “If I’m about to lose my temper, she’ll say ‘Let me take a look at your ring.’”
In addition to being a district inspector and past master of San Leandro Lodge No. 113 and California Lodge No. 1, Tony is a longtime donor to the Annual Fund.
“I’m not rich. I’m a working guy,” he says. “But my wife and I believe that if we have a little something, and it’s going to a good cause, we should share it.” It makes him think of his mother, he says, setting out soup for the neighborhood kids.
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