A young man received a special Christmas gift this past year, thanks to an organization known as the Scottish Rite, a branch of the Freemasons.

A young man received a special Christmas gift this past year, thanks to an organization known as the Scottish Rite, a branch of the Freemasons.

The group sponsors a long-standing charity called Rite Care, which focuses specifically on helping children with speech and hearing disabilities.

“To advance the efforts of all language impaired children by bringing them into the world of words and the joy of clearly understood or expressed ideas is our goal,” said a release sent by the Scottish Right.

The Scottish Rite was approached by the family of Johnathyn Wallace, a young student who was having difficulty in school due to poor hearing in one ear, according to Scottish Rite member Ed Conley.

“He’s always had a hearing problem, but it had gotten to the point where he needed a hearing aid,” Conley explained, saying the family’s insurance was unable to cover the costs. Kenneth O’Dell of the Pulaski County Scottish Rite served as the family’s point of contact.

“Ken took the bull by the horns,” said Conley.

Johnathyn was given an evaluation by Phelps County Regional Medical Center(PCRMC)’s Bond Clinic, which focuses on audiology. The clinic confirmed Jonathyn’s need, and the Scottish Rite members gladly funded their services on behalf of the Wallace family.

Dr. Larry Mazzeo, of the PCRMC Bond Clinic was the doctor who worked with Johnathyn to fit him with a hearing aid. Dr. Mazzeo explained that hearing loss in young kids is rare, with out of every 1000 newborns, only two or three have confirmed hearing disabilities.

“It’s a smaller percent, but it’s there,” he said.

Children are given several screenings after they are born, according to Dr. Mazzeo, and hearing diagnoses are required to be made by age six so the family can make plans for accommodation. In Johnathyn’s case, it was a hearing loss that developed further over time. Dr. Mazzeo said he diagnosed Jonathan a year ago.

According to Dr. Mazzeo, there are currently two types of hearing aides. One simply increases the volume of sound entering the diagnosed ear, while the other is a two component system. A transmitter is placed within the impaired ear and sends sound to a receiver in the good ear, rather than making it louder. Dr. Mazzeo said Johnathyn tested both models, and elected the single aide to be placed in his poor ear.

Should Johnathyn’s hearing loss develop further, Dr. Mazzeo said his hearing aid can be adjusted to match what he called the “target” volume. He said regular maintenance checks are common for those using hearing aides.

The Scottish Rite covered the entire cost of Johnathyn’s aid, and also included a device that manages moisture in his ear, which helps keep the aid running smoothly.

Dr. Mazzeo said he’s been in the field of audiology for over 30 years, and organizations stepping in to help families like the Wallace’s have proven to be a valuable resource to communities.

“When organizations like the Scottish Rite steps in, it fills in what’s missing there,” he said.

Ed Conley said the Scottish Rite chose to support children with hearing and speech problems because it’s a need that is often overlooked.

“It was an area that wasn’t covered by any major charity,” he said. “If people have a child with a speech and hearing problem, contact us.”