From the words of Ill. Jeffry A. Simonton, 33°, Deputy for Maine

Why do I give?

I guess in part because I have “Taken” before in my life, and I know how it feels. I also want to teach the next generation that giving can be rewarding. Mostly, I think that giving is a choice. Those who “Take” can have a hard time “Giving.” But those who “Give” sometimes need to “Take” a little help.

Things weren’t always perfect when I was young. One Christmas didn’t even include presents under a tree. I spent a few Saturdays in line waiting for government-issued food like cheese, chicken soup, prunes, and some form of SPAM, which I ate a lot of over those years.

Later in high school, at times I wondered how I was going to get by. I even resigned to getting food stamps. I saved one of those food stamps, and after 35 years, I still have it. It served as a reminder to me in my early career that I didn’t want to need to “Take” again but would rather be one who could “Give” instead.

As a parent, I’ve made sure that my children experience “giving.” I used to take my children to the local Veterans Home where a few of us Masons handed out coffee and donuts. Sometimes they would deliver the donuts as well. They still remember those times.

I was always involved in the “Summer-Fest” event with my Lodge, and my kids knew that it was a charitable endeavor. After many years, I told them I wasn’t participating one year. I was shocked to hear the cries of “You have to!” “You always do that!” They knew it was a volunteer event for me, and it had become a part of their lives too.

Recently my son had his eighth-grade graduation ceremony, and as part of his dressing up, he wanted to borrow a bow tie. The one that best matched was my Children’s Dyslexia Center Builders Council yellow Teddy Bear bow tie. I let him use it, but I did tell him to take good care of it, as it was an expensive tie! That tie has been a symbol of giving to me, and I have been very proud to wear it. Freemasonry has helped me surround myself with many other “Givers,” and I think giving is what makes all of us proud and happy to be members.

Jeffry A. Simonton, 33°
Active Member of the Supreme Council