It’s the number of minutes of fame we all have, DeMarcus Cousins and Bruce Bochy wear it on their backs, and today it is my number. Five thousand four hundred and seventy nine days ago I was initiated into a great youth fraternity called the Order of DeMolay. I remember so much that has happened in those 15 years since I became a member of THE San Juan Chapter. I remember the attire checks that the Sweethearts had us do and visitors from other chapters removing their socks so they would get “caught” and then have to do a song and dance for the crowd which now at Roseville consists of doing a dance if you have either not signed in or not bringing your mascot. I remember my first DLC and meeting a guy from Lodi Chapter who became my best friend as time went on,Josh Alvarez-Mapp, a.k.a. DJ Mappquest.
I remember the first NCDA Devo Day at Marine World on Mar. 17,2001 and wearing my purple Chris Webber Kings jersey to it. I remember my Installation as Master Councilor in 2002 and being a nervous mess throughout the event. Most of the memories of that day kind of all run together. I remember going to Santa Cruz with my chapter Sweetheart the day after having a very bad seizure. I remember going to eight straight Conventions and half of them being in my own room,debating with myself over which of the two beds I had that I was gonna sleep in. I remember going to the 2005 NCDA Boat Dance in a pair of platform shoes with fish in them. I remember getting a letter from DeMolay International on Jul. 2,2007 informing me of my Chevalier and tears emerging from my eyes as I read the letter. I remember being Scribe for both San Juan and Roseville chapters for over four and a half years. I remember 31 straight installations I have gone to between the two chapters,dating back to when I was a prospect (including getting sick during the first one I was in as a member and missing out on dancing with a really pretty girl who I had promised a dance to). I remember so many members and friends and even adults who over the years have been like family to me.
I remember Feb. 25,1999. My initiation day, I was so nervous, my family had come with me to this little lodge on San Juan Avenue to be apart of my initiation into DeMolay. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I was this shy kid who just turned 17 and was anything but special in his own high school. If my own classmates hated me, what would make me think that this group of people would feel different? The first year was a bit rough, getting used to a new group of kids and forming friendships was hard. I remember even going outside and crying after a meeting because nobody would talk to me (I am not sure if I ever told anyone that, but now I have). I wondered “Could I ever break through?” and be one of them. After my senior year of high school was over,things got a little easier and much better. I went up the line,became Master Councilor,and did pretty much everything a guy who only had four years of time in the organization could do. It wasn’t always easy,but I think things worked out fine. After I aged out I still went to events as much as I could,but my focus during that time was working.
In 2007, something I never thought would happen did-I was honored with the Degree of Chevalier. As stated before, my eyes were filled with tears as I read the letter. I was kind of questioning it at first,though. Isn’t this something that only past and present divisional and jurisdictional officers receive? Did I even deserve it? I then found out it was legit and called as many people as I could. Getting to sleep in order to go to work at six in the morning the next day was anything but easy. As I laid in bed I thought back to when I first came into DeMolay and how much time had passed and how far I had come. It is something I cherish and think about everyday. I hope those who received this honor before and after me are proud of it and never,ever take it for granted.
Did I ever envision myself staying around 15 years? Hardly! I was unsure I would be around 15 weeks in the beginning. The thing I love most about this organization are the people. Sure,many have come and gone over the last 15 years, but the spirit remains the same and I continue to meet more wonderful people the more I have been around.
Many of those people came from THE San Juan Chapter. Gone,but not forgotten, this was where my life as a Masonic youth started. For two-thirds of my time with this organization I was involved with this chapter. I had a blast with this chapter and guys like Ben Schwartz, Greg Wilhoit, John Nygard,Joe Marks, John and Josh Day, Nick Cusick, and of course David Burns and Karl Krummell. Oh,and Nick Wyckoff and Tim Murray. Let’s not forget the ladies of San Juan: Jennie Chilton, Katie Mowat, Melissa Day (nee Hart), Julie Layne, Julie Carlton, Cassandra Sosebee,Morgan Hawk and Megan Vinson (nee Pivoda),Lena Randolph,Danielle Malosh, Kristen Lohse, Ava Hunter, Allison Foster,and Beth Burns. All the fun times we had like dancing in black ties and slippers, working the information booth at the Placer County Fair, and breaking in the new year. This chapter was a special one and it is and always will be where I came from and I will always proclaim at every installation or other gatherings that I am a PMC and Chevalier from THE San Juan Chapter.
While San Juan is no more, Roseville Chapter has been there to continue where San Juan left off with great memories and great times. Some San Juan traditions are still there,but now they have started new traditions of their own. I have learned more from these guys than they ever did with me as a member of their advisory council,and I really mean that. They have taught me how to stay young, to be a friend, to be somebody, to take pride in yourself, to be a part of something special,something bigger than yourself. Every time they do something extraordinary, it motivates me to do the same. In my view, they are the best chapter in Northern California and are an example of what every chapter in not just Northern California should be, but all of DeMolay. They have made meetings fun and more of an event that you need to be at (If you have never been to a Roseville meeting, you are missing out!). I wish I could go to more of them,but these days they run so late and I have to be awake at 6 a.m. daily for work. I do hope they know that even though I am not around as much as I used to be I think the world of them and will continue to support them.
These guys deserve a shout-out: Kyle Kimmey, Scotty Zumwalt, Matthew Killmer, Spencer McDonald, Shawn Foster, Brad Ross, Daniel Hamilton, Kenny Penaluna, Levi Pivoda, Dylan Courtwright, Jacob and Sal Sanchez, Cole Allen, Donnie Riddle, Paolo Maquiling,Chad Willis, Aaron (A.P.) Pickett,Tyler Nichol,and Drew Kirkley. And of course the ladies: Kim Shea (nee Hamilton),Carolyn Whiteford, Hayley Handcock, Ashley Freitas, Dylan Vogel, Arianna Tabor, Lerin Pivoda, Veronica Allen, Crystal Zumwalt, Jessica MacDonald, Melissa Freitas, Ciara Freitas, and Gianna Pickett. This chapter holds a special place in my heart and I am lucky to get to continue to see these young men and women grow up into outstanding and amazing people.
Many people have felt that I have probably stayed too long,but I don’t care, I’m a better person,a better friend,a better son,a better brother,and a better man for it. This organization gave me so much in 15 years that it will take me a lifetime to give that back. Now that I am 32 and have seen 15 years of this organization, I look back and smile at all the great memories and wonderful people who have crossed paths with me. I even get a little emotional thinking about all those great times because of how much they have meant to me. I also look forward to more good times to come and great people to spend them with from a community that has always been there.
It’s also cool to be the old guy in the room that gets to see where the next generation takes this organization and I know that it’s in good hands and am excited to see what takes place in the years to come.
To everyone who has been along for the ride with me, I thank you. For your friendship, for welcoming me into your lives, for your kindness, your charm, your hospitality, and above all else,your love! I love you all right back!