Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Franklin's Funds

Ben Franklin's 8 Lessons of Personal Finance, AND YOU!

by Dan Loughin
Chapter Advisor, Reading Chapter

As an amateur historian, I am in awe of those that came before us; the men and women that helped form our country.  One of these men was Benjamin Franklin, whom I’m sure you’ve heard of from the story with the kite and the key, the invention of bifocal glasses or the creator of Poor Richard's Almanac..

But there is more to Franklin than you know.  He not only was once Governor of Pennsylvania, but he also served as the first Ambassador to France, the first Ambassador to Sweden, and the first Postmaster General of the United States.  He was also an author, printer, political theorist, scientist, inventor, civic activist, and diplomat.  He was a true everyman, that I’m sure could dunk a basketball or throw a 90 MPH fastball, had those sports been invented in the 1700’s.

As he was all of these things, he attained great wealth through his life, to the point where he was able to retire at the age of 42.  As the knowledgeable man he was, he released his 8 lessons of personal finance to the general public, so that all may know how he did it.  And I will share them with you now.  Please keep in mind that while these were written in the late 1700’s, they are timeless, and still hold their value.

1) Understand The True Value of Things
If you’re going to go into business for yourself, or you’d be happy working in fast food all of your life, you need to understand that everything has a true value and a perceived value.  The perceived value is quite easy to understand: it is what the average person would pay for something.  The true value, however, is much more difficult to understand.  I’m 30, and I still struggle with this on various different products and services.  Just because something is priced at $20, it does not mean that said item is actually valued at $20.  This is true of everything: from food to cars.  Once you understand the true value of these things, you life, and financial situation, will drastically improve.

2) Be Self-Sufficient
There are plenty of us, most of the residents of this great country in fact, that work for someone else, so this point was made not to encourage running your own business (but if you do, more power to you), but to not rely on anyone else for money.  Understandably, this is incredibly difficult, if not impossible, when you are 12.  But when you reach your 20’s, it starts to become unattractive to anyone to beg your parents for money.  By 30, it’s irresponsible.  By 40, you should be reevaluating your life if you are consistently begging people for money to pay for things for you.  Excluded from this, however, is if you live with your parents in your 20’s and 30’s and pay them rent.  You are not free-loading off of them, as you are paying them money.  This strictly means that you are financially independent of other people.

3) Invest in Yourself
Very simply, you are your best asset.  You make money for yourself.  You experience life for yourself.  Get educated, by either going to school or learning from people who have obtained proper knowledge.  Go to the doctor to keep yourself in healthy shape.  Eat right.  De-stress.  Whatever you need to do to make sure your primary asset is protected is the best investment you can make.

4) Surround Yourself with Friends Who Share Your Values
Plain and simple, make sure your friends are the same “kind” of people you are.  Figure out your personal values, and search out people who share them.  I’m not talking about political or religious values, however; people of differing opinions in religion and politics can help a person grow as an individual.  I’m talking about things like work ethic and family orientation.  If you work harder than anyone you know, and one of your friends is lazy and takes advantage of you, it’s probably best that you are not friends with them.

5) Don’t Compromise Your Integrity for Money
Webster’s defines integrity as “adherence to moral and ethical principles.”  In short, do sell what breaks your personal moral code, what you’ve told yourself you’d never, for an extra buck.  Not only will you feel like you cheated yourself and anyone close to you, but you most likely will kill any chance of much more vast wealth down the road.

6) Steady Diligence Is the Way to Wealth
You hear the rags to riches stories, the one in a million shot that a person hit the huge jackpot at the lottery, that the person took the long-shot bet on the superfecta at the Kentucky Derby, and won over $1 Million.  These are exactly what they sound like: once in a lifetime rarities that don’t happen to the average person.  Franklin was saying that if you work hard, save hard.  Don’t do things just to keep busy that won’t pay you (like 15 hours of video games on the weekend).  If you stay on top of your work and your spending, you will eventually have financial wealth.

7) Time Is Money
Everyone has heard this phrase before, but Franklin is the first one to be attributed to the saying.  Very simple, time is a finite resource.  We get no more or no less than we are given when we are born.  Money can grow, time cannot.  If you stay diligent with your work and saving early on, then you can cash in your time on the back half of your life, and do things that really matter to you.  Don’t let other people suck your time away.   You are protective of your money; why not your time as well?

8) The Accumulation of Money Is a Means to an End
I’m sure you’ve heard “money isn’t everything” or “money is the root of all evil” or “money doesn’t buy happiness.”  While true at the core, these sayings are flawed.  While money isn’t everything, if you value time as money, it becomes everything.  Money is not the root of all evil, greed is.  And while MORE money doesn’t buy happiness, you’ll  need money to live, and if you live correctly, you’ll be happy.  Take stock of what you want to do and how you want to do it before you start.  You don’t want to work in your 90’s out of necessity.  Use money to be able to retire as early as possible, and enjoy what life has to offer when you’re able to.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Key Man University Youth Director Chosen

Meet Mason Bryant 2015 Key Man Youth Director

The Directors of Key Man University are proud to announce a new addition to our staff. Brother Mason Bryant, the State Master Councilor-elect from Kentucky, is joining us as our 2015 KMU Youth Director.

Mason comes to us from River Cities Chapter in Westwood, KY. He is one of a number of candidates who applied for the position. All of our candidates were outstanding, making the decision a tough one. We were impressed with Mason’s interest in and dedication to DeMolay. He has already brought a few great ideas to the table, and we anticipate many more in the coming months.

Head over to the KMU Youth Director page on the PA DeMolay website to read more about him. In the coming weeks, we’ll be posting more information about the rest of our staff, so stay tuned!

Ancora Imparo!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Carlisle Chapter's Road to Success

How A New Old Chapter Was Returned to the Carlisle Community
by "Dad" Brett Otto, Advisory Council Chairman

Now that a few days have passed since receiving the Charter for Carlisle Chapter, it is good to look back at where we have been. 

I never dreamed in 2007, when 3 young men (Rob Otto, Ben Otto and Colton Swindler) traveled to the State Convention in York, PA to join GW chapter, that Carlisle Chapter would ever re-open. Back then, we traveled 45 minutes each way to Chambersburg to go to DeMolay. 

Along with the 3 DeMolay, "Dad" Brett Otto and "Moms" Kelley Otto and Cayle Otto Swindler joined the Advisory Council of GW Chapter. For years, we traveled back and forth between Carlisle and Chambersburg, many times taking 2 mini vans full of DeMolays. Over several years the "Carlisle Contingent" grew. 

The original 3 Carlisle DeMolay all became MCs of GW Chapter and Chevaliers. Others from GW DeMolay that became Carlisle DeMolays included, Anthony Kallhoff, Trenton Swindler and Brady Swindler. 

In 2011, some Masons from the Lodges in Carlisle, Cumberland Star Lodge #197 and St. John's Lodge #260 began talking about opening a DeMolay Chapter in Carlisle. After several meetings of members of both lodges and some of the GW advisors, it was decided to move ahead to open Carlisle DeMolay.

So began the process with DeMolay International. Both Carlisle Lodges agreed to be co-sponsors of the new DeMolay Chapter. In the spring of 2012, we received word that DeMolay International would be granting Letters Temporary for a Chapter in Carlisle. 

At the time, we still didn't have a name for the new chapter. The 7 members that transferred from GW DeMolay were given to task to choose a name for the new chapter. They found out that Carlisle had a DeMolay Chapter that closed in 1994. To honor that chapter, it was decided to keep the name, Carlisle DeMolay. 

Colton Swindler was chosen to act as our first Master Councilor, since he was a PMC from GW Chapter. During 2001, we held activities and continued to grow, reaching 15 members by the end of the year. 

Meeting this milestone, in December 2012, Carlisle DeMolay was officially presented our Letters Temporary at our very first installation of officers, when Mikel Baer (now "Dad" Baer Mike) was our first installed MC. 

Over the next few years, we continued to increase in membership. We participated in state sports tournaments, State Convention and Keyman Conference.

By the end of 2014, we had grown to 30 members in our Chapter. Having met that milestone, it was approved by DeMolay International to grant our chapter a Charter. 

On March 29th, the Charter was presented by our Executive Officer, "Dad" Tom Labagh at our Installation of Officers. We were so pleased to have so many visitors and guests in attendance. Although we knew the Charter was being presented, our EO surprised 3 Advisors by presenting them each with a Zerubbabel Key. 

This award is presented to individuals who are primarily responsible for opening a DeMolay Chapter. "Dad" Brett Otto, "Mom" Kelley Otto and "Mom" Cayle Swindler received Z-Keys. Speaking for the three, we are all deeply humbled and honored to receive this award. 

Over the years, we have worked with both GW and Carlisle Chapters. We have seen many DeMolay join, grow and mature, and become Senior DeMolays., which has been our true reward. Many of our DeMolays are now Lodge members and advisors. 

On behalf of Kelley, Cayle and myself, we want to thank all of the DeMolay, advisors, parents, Lodge brothers, State DeMolay officers, the Executive staff and others who have made the dream of Carlisle DeMolay come true. Thank you.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Substance Abuse---DeMolays---Impossible!

What do you really know about your DeMolay members?

This may not, at first, seem like a DeMolay blog post.  But, stick with it... it is VERY relevant to what you are doing in your DeMolay Chapter.

The annual Pennsylvania Youth Survey is conducted by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs and the Pennsylvania Department of Education.  Since 1989 the Commonwealth has conducted a biennial survey of youth in the 6th, 8th 10th and 12 grades to gather information about their knowledge, attitudes and behaviors toward alcohol, tobacco and other drug use.

The survey is administered in individual school buildings and all questions are optional... youth are able to skip any questions they don't want to answer, or opt out of the survey entirely.  All answers are anonymous and confidential.The 2013 survey was administered to nearly 201,000 youth in over 400 school districts and counties. Statewide, this was a total of 69% of the 288,632 youth surveyed. 50.3% were female, and 49.7% were female.  75% were white, 6% African American, 3% Asian, 3% Hispanic and 11% multi-racial.  (There IS a skew in these numbers in that the inner-city schools in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have consistently and inexplicably chosen NOT to participate in the survey.)

Regardless of the lack of big-city representation, these numbers are very telling.  Here are some statistics to consider:

Exposure to and use of "gateway" drugs during their lifetime:

 6th Grade      13.3%
 8th Grade      35.1%
10th Grade     61.5%
12th Grade     74.2%

 6th Grade        2.4%
 8th Grade      10.2%
10th Grade     21.2%
12th Grade     35.2%

Smokeless Tobacco
 6th Grade       1.0%
 8th Grade       4.6%
10th Grade     10.9%
12th Grade     18.9%

 6th Grade        0.8%
 8th Grade        6.4%
10th Grade     25.8%
12th Grade     40.3%

 6th Grade        5.3%
 8th Grade        6.9%
10th Grade       6.4%
12th Grade       5.9%

Other             cocaine                  crack          methamphetamines
 6th Grade        0.2%                     0.2%                        0.1%
 8th Grade        0.6%                     0.4%                        0.4%
10th Grade       1.5%                     0.9%                        0.8%
12th Grade       3.1%                     1.3%                        1.2%

The participating school districts receive their District's numbers in comparison to these statewide numbers, a national "norm" and multi-year comparisons within their home county.

They are then guided through a method of evaluating the statistics to prioritize programs that target specific goals, to evaluate the success of programs already in place, to determine community standards for "acceptable" levels, identifying risk factors and understanding large shifts in the data from year to year.

The survey touches on other subjects beyond drug awareness and use.  It also includes questions on gambling, gang involvement, texting while driving, other anti-social behavior, bullying, internet safety, depression and suicide risk, family separation, trauma and grief, transitions and other stressful events, perception of parental and peer disapproval.  We will review some of those topics and numbers in the future.

Discussion points:

1.   What conclusions can you draw from these numbers about YOUR DeMolay Chapter?

2.   Does your Chapter have a substance abuse "presence?"

3.   Does it have a substance abuse "problem?"

4.   How many members in your Chapter are "likely" to be knowledgeable and experienced users of one or more controlled substances?

5.   Does this worry you?

6.   Are you prepared to deal with it, if you learn of it in relation to your Chapter members?

7.   Is PA DeMolay's Zero Tolerance policy practical, or unrealistic?

8.   Are there potential youth protection issues created by our initial response to these statistics?

9.   Does DeMolay's program of traditional values help our members respond to the pressures and opportunities presented to them by their peers?

Friday, March 13, 2015


What's the "secret?"  
by "Dad" Thomas R. Labagh, Executive Officer

Often I have been asked, "Why is the PA. DeMolay Key Man program so successful?"
I don't think it is any secret that the strength of all of our programs is in the leaders who drive them forward. The program grew out of necessity, as the DeMolay International Leadership Training Conference program had effectively shut down through DI's financial difficulties of the late 1970s and early 1980s.  After hosting three DeMolay LTCs at the Patton Campus, two pre-renovation and one after the new facility opened, PA DeMolay was faced with the cancellation of the DLTCs and the loss of this vital training opportunity for its members. Rumors of several regionally coordinated LTCs started to circulate, and it didn't take much coaxing for PA to start looking at the same thing.

In 1986, under the leadership and vision of Bro. and "Dad" Samuel C. Williamson, (R. W. Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of PA, and then Executive Officer of DeMolay in Pennsylvania,) the Key Man Conference was born, specifically to train Chapter Councilors and new members. As with anything new, the first three years had smaller enrollments, and through "Dad" Williamson's relentless leadership, the Chapters in PA learned how important it was to support and attend the conference.  In 1989, NJ DeMolay committed to sending a large number of participants, Jurisdictional Officer training was added to the curriculum, and the program grew rapidly from that point on.

The Key Man program, (Conference/University) has always been designed to be a top quality leadership training experience.  It has always been held at the Masonic Conference Center--Patton Campus-- a first class location with incomparable facilities.  And it has always been supervised by the best volunteer staff available to mentor DeMolay members.  I won't mention the names of individual staff members or Conference Directors for fear of leaving someone out, but we have had some of the most dedicated, creative and focused leaders in the country bring their talents to the early development of the Key Man program.  Clearly, the program was a work in progress and went through a number of schedule changes but the basic DeMolay International Leadership Training Conference got a talent and resource boost in the Key Man program.   The DeMolays were very goal-oriented and competitive in ritual and in sports. An additional element of TV game shows used as teaching tools added fun and excitement through Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, $10,000 Pyramid and The Match Game, all adapted to enhance DeMolay knowledge.  "Winning" and "success" and a feeling of group-based "achievement" was everything.

Key Men were divided by levels of experience, and the program was specifically designed for new members, for Councilors, and for Jurisdictional Officers.  They were assigned to Chapters to mix the age-groups and to equalize sporting event performance.  We measured our success by the number of Key Man Chapters that met their participation goals and earned a variety of recognitions during the week.  Generally, one advisor per chapter worked with 10-14 boys, but a large support staff to handle specific assignments gave us our 1:5 adult to youth supervision ratio, and the program grew very popular during its first 14 years of operation.

I remember that in the early to mid 1990s there was a failed effort to start up the DLTC's again under DI supervision.  After that, DeMolay International's DLC committee, having no program to supervise, determined that they would "certify" all of the regional leadership training camps if they met certain standards established by the committee.  With a successful program operating smoothly, we couldn't see a need to submit our Key Man Conference to the touchstone of those who couldn't produce a conference, but could only critique.  Informed of the certification process, "Dad" Williamson stated that when the DLTC committee established standards that came up to par with OUR program, he would consider certifying THEM as authorized Key Man Conferences. That was a conversation-stopper.

In the year 2000, the Key Man program made a quantum leap in its curriculum and process when "Dad" Brent Richards conceived of the "reality concept," applied to all activities at the Key Man Conference.  Every scheduled experience was tested with the question: "How is this any different from what really happens at the home Chapter level?"  Each experience, from registration, to organizing their week-long chapter's officers and committees, to a real prospect party, fund-raisers, and obligatory day observances became models of how to establish and grow a Chapter at home.  Success became a secondary goal-- planning, execution and evaluation of success and failure, and how to improve for the next time, was the primary lesson.

Late in this program came the development of  the Brotherhood Contract and The Fidelity Pledge-- concepts "adapted" (some would say, stolen) from the "Full-Value-Contract" of the PMYF's Lifeskills Conferences also held at the Patton Campus.  The Brotherhood Contract states:

All Conferees agree to conduct themselves according to these basic ground rules:


Each of these are explained in detail in the contract, but the general idea is that if we agree to keep each other safe, to value each other's participation, to stay positive and open to new ideas, and to strive to achieve, anything is possible.  The Fidelity Pledge, well enacted, is a great way to get all the participants on the same page at the beginning of the program with the ideas of living up to the DeMolay Virtues, taking personal responsibility for our actions and practicing forgiveness and tolerance, as the basis for success in the program and success in their daily lives.

The Fidelity Pledge

I promise that I will try
to live by the DeMolay Virtues
in all that I think, say and do,
and will expect the same effort
from my brothers and Advisors.
When I fail to do so,
I will take responsibility for my decisions,
make appropriate amends, if possible,
accept the consequences of my actions,
and be as forgiving of my brothers
as they are tolerant of me.

We measured our success by the number of LCCs, RDs and Obligation Cards were earned, and the number of new ritual parts that were learned during the week, and also in the the ways the Key Men translated what they learned into valued behaviors that helped their home Chapters grow.  This latter item was not an easy thing to measure, except through anecdotes and testimonials by their advisors.  The "Reality Key Man" concept carried us for another 14 years, under the leadership of another corps of outstanding directors and adult volunteers.

In 2014 we decided it was time to take the whole program in a different direction to see what we could learn by giving the young men more choice and more freedom to select their area of academic and participatory concentration.  Thus arose the Key Man University concept, wherein the DeMolays choose their major course of study, and a minor course of study, and graduate at the end of the week with a base of knowledge they wanted, plus a smattering of "general education" courses that all must complete.  The areas of major and minor concentration included Ritual, Chapter Leadership, Event and Program Planning, Education and Personal Development, Brotherhood and Membership, Communications and Media, Jurisdictional Officers and Sweethearts.

Making individual schedules was much more complicated,but the DeMolays had control over what they did, and they had more personal freedom with open study periods, optional breakfast times and the inclusion of a Sweetheart program.  The DeMolays got a taste of what college could be like, while learning useful skills that they could practice in their home Chapters. Key Man University was a great success, and like every new concept, will undergo a process of refinement over the next few years that will balance all the elements of the program to the benefit of the Key Men.

So, what's the secret?  Why does this program continue to grow and improve over the years?  Consistent leadership.  Reliable and recurring volunteers.  Fantastic support from the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, its Lodges, and the members of the DeMolay Legion of Honor. An uncompromising commitment to excellence.

And the next "big idea?"  It may come next year or the year after, but, if patterns mean anything, 2028 should be a really interesting year for Pennsylvania DeMolay!