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DeMolay organization helps youth be adults

Teaching today’s youth to be tomorrow’s adult leaders.

One adult adviser said that is the purpose of International Organization of DeMolay.

The youth group is sponsored by the Masonic fraternities. There are approximately 25 members in the local chapter. It is open to young people ages 12-21. The requirements are that the applicant be of good moral character and believe in a supreme being.

“It’s a leadership program,” chapter adviser Bill Bocook said. “It teaches them how to handle life. It is one of the only youth organizations that are self-governed. They make their own decisions and their own money and decide how to spend their own money. We give them guidance but not adult control. We believe young men can make intelligent decisions if they’re given guidance.”

According to the international organization’s web site, the principles of citizenship, personal responsibility and leadership are stressed. DeMolay members visited the Lawrence County Commission Thursday as part of its activities during July, which was designated as government month by the organization. The commission proclaimed July DeMolay Month in Lawrence County in honor of the local chapter. Such activities are high points, according to DeMolay member T.J. Baker, 14.

“We get to go places, learn things we didn’t know,” Baker said.

Members also have their own slate of fundraisers to pay for various activities. They are involved in apple butter making at the Bob Evans farm and perform odd jobs.

For Nathan Turley, 16, the organization allows the satisfaction of setting a goal and accomplishing it.

“We go out, work and earn money instead of asking our parents for it,” Turley said.

According to its web site, DeMolay combines its mission of

training

future leaders “with a fun approach that builds important bonds of friendship among members in more than 1,000 chapters worldwide.” It is this sense of fraternity that some members said they most enjoyed.

“The best thing about the organization is you get to have fun, spend time with your friends,” said Andrew Mershon, 17. “They give you guidelines about what you can do and then you do it. If we want to go on a trip, we can. We basically get to have fun and spend time with our friends.”