Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Value of Connections

As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, I've recently purchased my first home. While the structure of the home is solid, it requires several "facial" updates. The light fixtures, paint, counter tops, vanities, etc. are all pretty dated. The electrical outlets need to be replaced and some minor plumbing needs to be completed to really make the house new again. This is the "price" I'm paying for having gotten a great deal on the home at well under market value. In real estate terms, they refer to this as putting in "sweat equity."

For the last week and a half, I have worked nearly 100 hours on my new home. I've learned how to wire an outlet, plumb a sink, paint an ugly wall, fix a garage door, trim an overgrown tree, clean my gutters, change a light fixture, and so much more. I was discussing these projects with a Masonic Brother and he asked where I learned to do all of these things. I answered honestly and told him that much of it came from my father, while the rest came from watching videos on the internet. Everything was going very smoothly. Then, last weekend came.

Saturday was a huge day of work. I arrived at the house around 9 AM and immediately got cracking. I had some help, thanks to "Mom" Stacy Meeker, who took on the major task of painting. Then, around 1 PM, Bro. Matt Blaisdell came over and offered to assist as well. He and Stacy took to painting a bathroom while I completed some electrical work. The projects were going well, until I hit an issue with a light switch. It had many more wires than I had previously worked with and I wasn't sure what to do. I tried several combinations. Finally, the light came on and I thought I had it fixed. Then, at the end of the night, when I went to turn the light off, it wouldn't switch off. Drats! I ended up flipping the breaker and left it for Sunday morning.

I started working on the switch first thing on Sunday. I spent nearly two hours trying to get the switch to work, with no luck. Realizing that further work was futile, I moved on to the next project - mounting a new light above the vanity in my bathroom. I removed the previous fixture off of the wall, only to realize that the wires were punched through the wall in the wrong place for the new light, stopping that project dead in its tracks. I was frustrated. I was getting angry. I wasn't sure what to do. My new house was causing me much consternation.

It was about this time that I remembered that Bro. Scott Smeltzer, a Senior DeMolay from the old Continental Chapter in York, is an electrician. I called and left Scott a message and he got back to me pretty quickly. I explained my issues and he offered to come to my house on Wednesday to look at my problems. As promised, Scott arrived on Wednesday and got right to work. In an hour and a half, he managed to take care of three projects. I had spent three times that much working on just one issue. He was a life saver, to say the least.

As he was finishing up the job, I asked him how much I owed him for the work. Scott responded "Nothing. This is what Brothers do. I help you, you help me. That's what it's all about." I was blown away. I had never expected him to do the work without cost and had money in my pocket ready to pay him. However, he wouldn't take any remuneration from me (and I tried a couple of times.)

This is the value of the DeMolay program - connections. Over a decade ago, I spent $50 to join Erie Chapter. Since that time, that $50 has grown in ways that I could never have expected. Had I called in an outside electrician, it could have cost me hundreds of dollars and this doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of what the Fraternity has done for me over the years.

The value of DeMolay (and Freemasonry) isn't monetary. It's the connections that it gives you the opportunity to make. If you invest in making, keeping, and supporting your connections, you're investing in a better future for yourself and your Brothers.

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

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