Thursday, November 29, 2012

Endings and Beginnings

As the end of the year approaches, we look forward to the holidays and time with our family and friends. However, the end of the year also means a change of leadership in many Masonic organizations, including DeMolay Chapters. As new young men take over the office of Master Councilor, they often feel a great deal of pride as well as a bit of dread over what being a leader means. Everyone can use a little advice and reassurance now and then, so today I shot out to the internet to find a useful article to share on this subject.

Over at I found an article about leadership in a volunteer organization. Sometimes we assume we have things figured out because we're the leader. But, as most leaders will tell you, that is often not the case.  I've reproduced the article here, but please note that the text is not mine, but is credited to the original author - Mr. Richard Cummins, an Assistant Professor of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M.

"For some time, questions have been asked about why some volunteer organizations are more successful than others. By and large, the problem is not with the leadership of the organization. Many talented volunteers bring substantial leadership experience from either the private or the public sector. The problem may be more closely related to unrealistic assumptions regarding the implementation of leadership for organizations.

Through personal experience, four common assumptions regarding leadership for volunteers have emerged. These benchmarks were more a result of armchair observations and hard knocks than the result of research. Research indicates these heuristics, however commonly accepted when working with volunteers, may cause more problems than they cure.

Volunteers are attracted to organizations for a variety of reasons. Generally, the motivations for aligning with others in a voluntary effort can be classified either as intrinsic, that is, doing something for the sake of the activity, or extrinsic, or doing something for an expected payoff. Whichever the case, the volunteer expects to do something. The following generally accepted assumptions may be a source of problems for volunteers willing to work.

Assumption One: Everyone knows what the organization stands for and represents. Volunteers select organizations because of the vision and mission of the organization. In order to fulfill an organization's mission, goals must be clearly articulated to the volunteers. Clearly, volunteers want to do something to help reach the goals and vision of the organization. With the increasing mobility of volunteers, the makeup of an organization will change rapidly and the assumption that everyone knows the mission of the organization is risky. The only way to assure common goals is to frequently share those goals.

Assumption Two: Everyone knows their role. In the work world, employees are usually provided a listing of expectations for their job, such as work standards, appropriate time schedules, authorization capabilities, oversight responsibilities, and reporting protocol. Volunteers have different motivations for voluntary work than paid employees; however, specific guidelines are required in order to have a smooth functioning organization. Role clarification cannot be over-emphasized in volunteer organizations.

Assumption Three: Everyone knows where to get needed information. Volunteers need to know and understand how different parts of a project fit together. Newsletters may give general comments and updates about a project but are usually inadequate regarding specifics about project progress. In addition to the informal lines of communication that develop, a specific reporting mechanism should be established and implemented. Many problems can be avoided when the information flow is unimpeded.

Assumption Four: Everyone gets feedback. It has been said that in Vietnam, the U.S. military did not fight a nine-year war; but rather because of frequent troop changes with no feedback or institutional memory, the U.S. military fought the first year of a war nine times in succession. Volunteers cycle through organizations in much the same way and new recruits are often unaware of previous efforts. Providing feedback to volunteers is critical at all levels of the organization. Special attention is required in order to share previous experiences with current members.

Becoming aware of assumptions and the effects those assumptions have is important in any endeavor. In order to address organizational assumptions, leaders for volunteers should be aware of four arts for sustained involvement. Learning and practicing these arts can contribute to success for volunteers and their chosen organizations.

Art One: Active Listening. Encourage others to talk and search for meaning. Be aware of values of volunteers and strive to meld organizational values and individuals' values. Encourage volunteers to talk about the organization and what they expect from the volunteering experience.

Art Two: Mentoring. Supportively guide others in learning and sharing not only how, but why specific roles are important. Strive to match available skills with volunteers' and organizational needs. Help others solve problems that are holding the organization back.
Art Three: Public Dialogue. Encourage public talk on matters that concern us all. Facilitate interaction to help volunteers gain understanding and appreciation for all segments of a project. Emphasize the free-flow of information.

Art Four: Evaluation and Reflection. Assess and incorporate the lessons we learn through action. Public decision making encourages those expected to implement plans to have ownership of those plans. Encourage new volunteers to make suggestions and avoid suggesting a lockstep method for the organization.

Providing leadership for volunteers can be exhilarating, frustrating, exciting, tedious, rewarding and demanding, all at the same time. Learning how to assess what is and assessing what could be is an important function of leadership for volunteers. Investing time to learn and practice the four arts for sustained involvement can yield substantial results."

Monday, November 26, 2012

Good news everybody!

The PA DeMolay website, located at, is back up and running! Huzzah! I appreciate your patience as we sorted out our server issues.

With that in mind, today is going to be a fairly short post, as I'm in the process of updating everything over on the website. As usual, when I'm in need of a short post, I took a trip over to The Art of Manliness for ideas. They never let me down!

As many of us will be flying this holiday season (or within the next year), I encourage you to take a look at their article titled How to Fly Like a Gentleman. It has some great tips on travelling as well as some basic life lessons. Check it out and see what you can get out of it!

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

I was in the middle of trying to come up with something to post on this blog for the holiday. As if someone knew what I was looking for, I received this email from "Dad" Mark Rauschenberger, Executive Officer of Illinois DeMolay. "Dad" Rauschenberger is also an Advisor for Lorraine Chapter here in PA and a relation of our State Master Councilor, Alex Rauschenberger. As you can see, he is quite thankful...

Greetings from the Land of Lincoln,

At our FallFest Ritual Tournament this past weekend, my message to the Jurisdiction was all about being thankful for what we have and what I have as a member of DeMolay International.

God knows, this has been a rough year for me personally by getting nailed with health issue after issue along with the health struggles of a few of my close family members.  Through the grace of God, I am thankful for completing another year of my journey in this world and the opportunity to continue my service to DeMolay.

The most concerning for me this year was the progressive loss of my eye sight.  There are no words to describe the feeling of losing one of the most critical senses we have.  Thankfully, the condition was reversible, restoring my sight to an improvement over what I have lived with most of my life.  In masonry we talk about being brought from darkness into light and this year I literally experienced just that.

After the two surgeries it was amazing how much one misses when things change slowly over time.  Today, I have a new clarity of focus and a new appreciation of what is before me. 

Sometimes in DeMolay, we look through a fogged vision of what stands before us and what is important.  I am personally thankful for each and every young man we serve and the Sweethearts who give of themselves to make our program better.  I am thankful to each of our Advisors and staff members who give of their time and efforts to deliver quality to the youth we serve.  I am thankful to our State Officers, young men and our State Sweetheart, with a heart for our Order always looking to make DeMolay even better.

I am thankful for the new friends I have made.  This past year I have had the opportunity to attend the Installation of Officers for George Washington Chapter in San Dimas California where the Chapter was impacted with the passing of a key Advisor.  I was proud to be invited to attend the installation of Glendale Chapter in Glendale Arizona where we saw a “full” installation of officers and spend time with some outstanding young men.  These visits remind me that we are part of a worldwide brotherhood and the caliber of young man participating in DeMolay is unrivaled.

Tomorrow, as each of you share the day with friends and family, I encourage you to take a moment and think of what you are most thankful.  I hope you find that clarity of vision to see what is before you and appreciate those things even more.

God bless each and every one of you and may you and your families have a joyous holiday season!

Mark L. Rauschenberger
Executive Officer - Illinois DeMolay

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving with a Twist

In a recent discussion among members of a Masonic group, the topic of awards and honors came up. This group, as a whole, offers no nationally sponsored awards or honors to recognize members and how have been instrumental in the success of the program. When this idea was brought to them, many said they were happy that no such award existed. This perplexed me a bit. Having come from a DeMolay background, I see great value in well used awards and honors.

Their concerns generally came in one of three ways. First, they didn't like the idea that people would be "in it" for recognition. Next, they were concerned over the hurt feelings that might come up as a result of someone not being recognized. Lastly, many felt that the positive feelings they get from serving was reward enough (and should be enough of a reward for everyone else too.) While I understood their concerns, I found it hard to accept that the bad outweighs the good when it comes to rewarding our members for a job well done.

However, they bring up some good points. Everyone, at some point in their life, gets passed over for a promotion, an award, or something else they truly believe they deserve. As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, it becomes a good time to reflect on what you are truly thankful for. While being a Chevalier is a great honor, many will tell you that the events leading up to receiving the cordon of a Chevalier are much more important than the actually knighting. The real "reward" was the enjoyment building up to the receiving of such an honor, not the intrinsic value of what was given.

As you look back on your DeMolay experiences, don't just think about the things that you didn't do, or the things that didn't work, or even the awards you think you deserve. Think about what a wonderful time you've had in the organization and be thankful for that. I know I am.

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Death of a Past State Master Councilor

From time to time, it becomes my job to report some sad news. Today, I have learned of the death of "Dad" Harry Wimer, Past State Master Councilor, 1956 - 1957, hailing from Lorraine Chapter. While not the oldest living PSMC, he was certainly one of the most senior. His obituary is reprinted below for those that may have known him.

Harry Donald "Bim" Wimer
January 2, 1937 ~ November 3, 2012

Harry Donald "Bim" Wimer, age 75, of Butler, Pennsylvania, passed away on November 3, 2012 at 2:00 a.m. at the Allegheny Valley Hospital in Natrona Heights.

He was born January 2, 1937 in Butler, Pennsylvania to the late Donald Cline Wimer and Martha (Kirkpatrick) Wimer.

Mr. Wimer was a graduate of Butler High School and attended Allegheny College in Meadville, PA receiving at BA degree. He was a veteran of the United States Army serving at Fort Riley Kansas, Fort Knox, Kentucky, Sam Houston, Texas, and OCS at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. He was a retired contractor from John F. Casey Company and Dravo Corporation, both in Pittsburgh, PA. Mr. Wimer was the owner of Harry D. Wimer Company of Butler, PA. He was a member of the Hill United Presbyterian Church and an officer, director and past Chairman of the board at North Side Cemetery for many years. Mr. Wimer was a 50 year member of the Butler Lodge No. 272 Free and Accepted Masons and a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity at Allegheny College. He was also the first State Master Councilor from Lorraine Chapter, Order of DeMolay. He continued to serve Lorraine Chapter as Chairman of the Advisory Council and worked at and contributed equipment for the annual fundraisers. Bim coordinated and supervised the work of the vendors and volunteers who built the Masonic Community Shelter at Alameda Park. He enjoyed hunting.

Mr. Wimer is survived by numerous cousins. He was preceded in death by his parents.

Friends will be received Monday, November 12, 2012 from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. at the Thompson - Miller Funeral Home, Inc., 124 East North Street Butler, PA.

Funeral services will be held Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 11:30 a.m. at the Thompson - Miller Funeral Home, Inc., 124 East North Street Butler, PA with, Reverend Clark Sawyer of Hill United Presbyterian Church, officiating.

Burial will take place in the North Side Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, Memorial Donation may be made to the Restricted Fund of North Side Cemetery, 1002 North Main Street, Butler, PA 16001 or to the Butler VA Medical Center, 325 New Castle Road, Butler, PA 16001.

Officers and members of Butler Lodge No. 272 Free and Accepted Masons will conduct Masonic Services Monday, November 12, 2012 at 6:45 p.m. at the funeral home.

Monday, November 12, 2012

DeMolay Taught Me to be a Loser

Today's post is another from a special guest. "Dad" Peter Brusoe is a Past International Master Councilor and is active with Nation's Capital DeMolay. He's a good friend of PA DeMolay and we're happy to share this article.

DeMolay has taught me many things. DeMolay ceremonies honed my public speaking skills to allow me to be able to speak extemporaneously in front of groups. DeMolay gave me preparation to run meetings in a professional manner, it also gave me some great life experiences.  One of the best things that it did was to learn how to lose, and to lose well. 

Before I joined DeMolay I had run for three offices. Student Council in 1st Grade (the cutest girl won) Student Council in fifth grade ( I lost, my opponent smeared me because my handwriting was messy and I wouldn't be able to take good notes at the student council meeting) and Marching Band Librarian (I won!).  How many times as a young person do you get to vote or run a campaign? Not often. Then I joined DeMolay and there were these elections every six months and I was given a tutorial in winning and losing elections.  

I ran for Master Councilor the first time and I lost to my good friend and DeMolay brother Patrick Filiberto. Something weird happened.  I think I was gracious in defeat. Pat did an AMAZING job as Master Councilor and we quickly became the best chapter in New York State.  Losing was a good lesson,  life went on, programs went on, everyone was still friendly and brotherly.  I remember there were still hurt feelings from those student council elections.  I thought that it was something unique to our chapter.

When I went to my first state convention, it was a three way competition for Deputy State Master Councilor.  It was suspenseful hearing the names read out loud.  Was it going to be our guy from the eastern part of the Empire State, or would it be one of the two guys from Western New York.  The guy from the east won, and the two guys from the West stood up.  I wondered if they were going to challenge the vote, or ask for a recount.  Rather they stood up and said they were yielding their votes to the guy who had won, and congratulated them and sat down.  No visible anger, no tears, it was a class act.  Perhaps it was because we were New Yorkers, and everyone knows that New Yorkers are the most polite people on the planet.

My first DeMolay International Congress in 2000 two guys were running for International Master Councilor and International Congress Secretary.  The roll call of votes was going through and my preferred candidate from Georgia did not get the votes.  I then saw him stand up at the end of the election and do the same thing that New Yorkers did.  That pretty much sealed it that it’s a DeMolay thing.  It’s truly a great example to live by.

Seeing these examples of people running, and what people do after gave me the confidence to run for offices.  In my non-DeMolay activities I have run for a number of offices, in part because running for DeMolay offices gave me the confidence to put my name out there for election, or in some cases appointment.  I have won or been appointed to my fair share of offices, but I have also lost a fair number as well.  When Gordon Bombay asked if Losing was funny, Les Averman famously said “Well, not at first, but once you get the hang of it.”  Losing never gets easier, but it’s how we respond to losing that matters. 

This past Tuesday, at the request of several of my neighbors, I put my name on the ballot for a local office.  After having served in a number of fraternal, community, church, building association, school, and social organizations I was making the big jump. Voters in my part of DC would see the names “Obama,” “Romney” and “Brusoe” all on the same ballot.  I shook hands, stood out in the cold, talked about issues from trees falling down, banning city use of pesticides, and zoning regulations.  

That night while I was at work refreshing the national exit polls and updating information on federal elections, I kept refreshing the local DC Board of Elections to see how many votes were by my name.  Early votes looked promising, the young working class votes looked really good, then the retired votes and the property owners started to come in and there was a huge separation.  The percentage of votes kept creeping closer to 100% and finally it hit 100% and there were not enough votes outstanding between my opponent and I.  I lost.  I opened up an email, drafted a quick note to my opponent asking if she was still awake, and could take my concession phone call, as well as thanking her, congratulating her and letting her know she has my full support.  She was gracious and congratulatory.  We sent out warm and appreciative emails thanking each other.

Would I have done that if I wasn’t in DeMolay? Probably not.  But DeMolay gave me the confidence and the example to lose, and when I lose, to lose well.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

KoD Update and Round Table

Today, I'm pleased to have a special guest post. Bro. Robbie S., from Westmoreland Chapter located in Greensburg, PA, has taken to the Kingdom of DeMolay like a fish to water. He, as well as several PA DeMolays, are very active in the Kingdom and they wanted to give everyone an update on what's going on with the program.

The Kingdom of DeMolay is a virtual world where anything is possible. You can talk with brothers from far out lands. You can also build almost anything and have fun. A recent event included a Halloween themed region with festivities for the whole community!

Many regions and islands span the Kingdom of DeMolay world. Each DeMolay Jurisdiction gets its own sandbox region to let the Brethren create their own content. The possibilities for creativity are endless! Currently the Kingdom is open to any suggestions to tailor the experience to its players. Developers have put many hours and much imagination into creating the Kingdom. Now its up to you to shape it the way you want.

On Thursday, November 8th, 2012 there will be a open "round-table" where anyone who wants to express their ideas and concerns may do so. The meeting will convene at 7 pm and run for about two hours. The round-table will take place in the kingdom of DeMolay on Faith Island.

Everyone should make it a goal to get a brother signed up for the Kingdom of DeMolay. With each Brother that joins the Kingdom of DeMolay, the more fun we all will have. See you online!

Monday, November 5, 2012

A Letter from Bro. Walt

Anyone has been around DeMolay knows that Walt Disney was a member of our Order. In fact, I've discussed that on this blog before. In an effort to find something to post today, I did some digging and came across the text of a  letter written by Bro. Disney in February of 1965. The actual letter is retained by the Disney History Institute.

According to the Institute, several young men were forming Acacia Chapter in Stuart, FL. They wrote to Disney asking for his support and any insight he may have. He responded with the following letter:

"To my young brothers in the Acacia Chapter, Order of DeMolay, in Stuart, Florida I am happy to extend my warm greetings to you all.

I am proud, indeed, still to retain my bond with DeMolay as an honorary legionnaire. I am deeply grateful for the association which materially influenced not alone my young years but my whole personal and professional life.

One of he most important events of my youth, and one of the happiest too, was my acceptance into the membership of DeMolay. And I realize now, even more than then, how deeply my whole life, personal and professional, has been influenced by that early association. I am proud, indeed, still to retain my bond with DeMolay as an honorary legionnaire.

I was among the first members of the order when it was conceived and established in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1919 by that grand humanitarian, Dad Land. At his invitation, a number of my young neighbors and I from the Benton School joined the first chapter in the city of its birth.

Through the years I have watched the growth and progress and prestige of this great organization. I have witnessed the inspiration it has been to many of our finest citizens and ablest leaders in all walks of life. The composite record of the 2,000,000-odd past and present DeMolays is most impressive for its many outstanding contributions in the private and public life of our nation.

I feel a great sense of obligation and gratitude toward the order for the part it has played in my endeavors. Its precepts have been beyond value in making decisions, in facing dilemmas and crises, in holding onto faiths and ideals and in meeting the tests which are best borne when shared with others in a bond of confidence and mutual respect.

The DeMolay creeds had become a definite guide by the time I started making motion pictures, first in Kansas City, then in Hollywood.

There is always some connection between a man's character and what he creates or perfects, so we are told. And it may well be that the same influences which shaped the thinking and behavior and preferences of my youth, had something to do with the early steps of my movie career and the direction it took.

It is gratifying to be assured that these same influences of DeMolay are still at work among so many young Americans today."

If you could ask any Senior DeMolay for support and advice, who would it be? Leave your answer in the comments!

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Future of DeMolay - Part II

First, let me apologize for the lack of a post on Monday; with the weather and what not, the blog was not the first thing on my priority list. But, now we’re back action, hopefully with another thought provoking piece. As with before, this piece is entirely my own opinion and does not represent the opinion of the officers of PA DeMolay in any way.

In my last post to this blog I discussed the idea that DeMolay needed to get back to its roots of helping guys who aren't the all stars of the school, but rather those who have great potential which is being under valued. I also coupled this idea with a socio-economic piece that posited that DeMolay has more potential for lower income youths. This is the piece I want to expand upon.

When DeMolay was founded, Louis Lower and his friends could walk to the Scottish Rite building in Kansas City. They didn't need anyone to drive them there. They were members of the local community and their meeting place was a convenient gathering point for all involved. Had the Scottish Rite been in the “rich” part of town, or otherwise inadequately located, one of two things would have happened – the boys would have met elsewhere or DeMolay wouldn't exist. Thankfully, it does, but we have a lesson to learn from this.

The Masonic fraternity is a huge supporter of DeMolay. Many Chapters get the benefit of meeting in a Masonic Lodge, often for free. However, what good is a building if no one is willing or able to go to it? I’ve heard, more than once, Advisors complain about having to bus kids from their homes to the meetings. This begs the question of “Why?” The answer I hear most is that the parents are unable or unwilling to transport their son to the meeting, even if he really wants to go. So, what is a Chapter to do?

The answer seems pretty simple to me – move your meetings!

I can hear the hew and cry now – “Heresy!” But, let’s take a step back and analyze everything that is at stake here. Louis Lower and his friends were from lower middle class and lower class households. DeMolay gave them something they didn't have elsewhere – a safe place to belong. Today, DeMolay often exists in middle class and upper middle class neighborhoods. I don’t mean to say that it is exclusively the territory of these groups, but it predominantly is. DeMolay grew because it tapped into a need for a group catering to young men in an under represented area. These kids weren't “bad,” they just didn't have as many opportunities. So, with that in mind, it would seem only reasonable that recruiting this type of young man would be beneficial to the organization. Where do we find this new recruit? Why, different neighborhoods of course!
DeMolay needs to take up the banner and go into these areas, as that is one way that we can grow. The Hispanic population in America is on the rise and will be for some time. Yet, there are few organizations for young people operating in predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods. What if a DeMolay Chapter formed and met in a church that was within walking distance for all of these kids? How popular would that be? The chances that those young men would be able to go to a Masonic building on the other side of town is pretty slim, but a local church of community center might just do the trick.

I challenge you – rethink the DeMolay program. You can have Lodge support without meeting in a Lodge and you can be DeMolay anywhere. Frank Land and the original nine knew that, so why don’t we?

Frat ~ “Dad” Seth Anthony