Kora Shriners started 2023 in style with their Installation of officers for the new year on January 14, 2023. Elected to serve as Potentate (CEO) is James ‘Jim’ A. Bennett of Biddeford. Jim and his wife Debbie are looking forward to a busy and fun-filled year.
Jim announced and explained his theme for the year of ‘Miracles & Memories’ to over 250 that attended the semi-public event. He explained to those in attendance “We all know the main reason we proudly wear the Fez of a Shriner. It is because of the medical miracles that happen every day in our first class pediatric specialty medical care system. Our hard work and the fun we have is all about supporting the amazing children in our Shriners Children’s system. Every Shriner is deeply connected to that cause.”
Jim, a native of Lisbon and a member of Kora since 2001, is widely known as ‘GINJO’ one of the Kora Klowns. ‘Some of my greatest memories occurred because of my membership in Kora. There are so many stories that I love to tell over and over again that Deb has them numbered,” he went on to tell those in attendance. “It is your stories of being a Shriner that I hope will motivate you all to create new memories in 2023 that will last you a lifetime.”
Bennett currently serves as Biddeford’s City Manager. He previously served as the City Manager/Administrator in the communities of Presque Isle, Sabattus, Lewiston, Westbrook, Old Orchard Beach, New Gloucester, and Dixfield. He started his public service in 1982 being elected to serve on the Lisbon Board of Selectmen.
The installation ceremony was held at the historic Kora Shrine Center at 11 Sabattus Street in Lewiston. The building is on the National Historic Register and has been the home of Kora Shriners since 1909.
Bennett was joined by his wife Debbie (Hagan) originally from Brunswick, their son Mitchell ‘MoJo’ Bennett, also a member of Kora Shriners and a Kora Klown, and their daughter Amanda Bennett.
Joining Bennett on the Kora Leadership Team for 2023 are: Paul Gardner of Gray and his wife Michelle; Mike Zubiate of Lewiston and his wife Sue; Mike Robitaille of Lisbon and his wife Lolita; Frank Welch of Minot and his wife Pamela; Barry Gates (Past Potentate) of Turner and his wife Bobby Jean; John Knox (Past Potentate) of Windham and his wife Becky; Barry Irish of Windham and his wife Debbie; Ryan Sherman of Wales and his wife Renee; Ben Weisner of Auburn and his wife Cassidy; Gordon Kimball of Gray; Andy Caron of Topsham and his partner Claire Dufont of Brunswick and Gene Tanguay of Bethel and his wife Lorraine.
Kora continues its tradition of “having fun and helping kids”with many of its units participating in area parades and festivals. Kora is proud to host several community based events which include the annual Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl Classic, this year to be held at Lewiston High School; the annual Kora Feztival of Trees, the premier holiday event in the Southern Maine, and the annual Kora Kares BBQ Competition and Ride In to name just a few. These events help support the operations of the facility, as well as support of Shriners Hospitals for Children, now known as Shriners Children’s.
About Shriners International
Shriners is a brotherhood based on fun, fellowship and the Masonic principles of brotherly love, relief and truth with nearly 200 temples (chapters) in several countries and thousands of clubs around the world. Shriners support Shriners Children’s®. With 22 locations across the United States, Shriners Hospitals for Children® is dedicated to improving the lives of children by providing pediatric specialty care, innovative research, and outstanding teaching programs for medical professionals. Children up to age 18 with orthopedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries, and cleft lip and palate are eligible for care and receive all services in a family-centered environment, regardless of the patients’ ability to pay. All Shriners must be a Mason in good standing.