Brother Jason French, from our recent “This is Ohio Freemasonry” campaign, opened up to us about his experience in Ohio Freemasonry, how he got involved in the Fraternity and what it means to him. Read through our interview with Jason below to see Ohio Freemasonry from his perspective and share your own experiences with us at OhioLodgeLife@Freemason.com.
Town: Medina, OH
Lodge: National 568 & Northern Light 40
Year I joined Freemasonry: 2000
Profession: Senior Living Executive
How did you join/want to join Freemasonry?
I am a 3rd generation Mason, my family was and remains to be very involved in the fraternity. Some of my earliest memories were being at potlucks, fundraisers, and other social activities that the Lodge was involved in. When I was growing up these were people that we spent our time with, things like birthday parties and the 4th of July were all events that we would share together. Many of my closest friends today were the children of members of my father’s lodge. When I was 12, I joined DeMolay, which outside of asking my wife’s hand in marriage was the best choice I have made in my life. My experience in DeMolay helped make me a better person by focusing on values like acceptance, toleration, love of family, patriotism, comradeship, and education. And because of that amazing experience of being a DeMolay, when I turned 19, there was no question that I would petition my Father’s Lodge and become a Mason.
What does Freemasonry mean to you?
The benefits of being a member of the Fraternity go far beyond friendship and personal enrichment. Freemasonry is a group of men who, by choice, come together with a common belief that they can make a bigger impact on their community as a collective group than they ever could as an individual. Whether it’s a fried bologna sandwich sale or holding a pancake breakfast to support Special Olympics, the Kidney Foundation, or some other worthy cause, Freemasons all across Ohio are doing amazing work for their communities.
Freemasonry is family. I met my wife, Brandy, when we were teenagers through our membership in DeMolay and Job’s Daughters which are both Masonic Sponsored Youth Groups. We didn’t date until several years down the road in college. In fact, we ran into each other on campus by happenstance. But, if we hadn’t had our connection through the Fraternity, there is no way that I would have been brave enough to even try to talk her that day.
How did it feel to be chosen for the “Faces of OH” campaign shoot?
My first reaction was shock and then an extreme sense of humility that someone thought enough of me that my image would help tell the story of “This is Freemasonry”. I think I even stated, “if you think my ugly mug will help, then I’m all in!” The Fraternity as a whole has a messaging and image concern that we need to address when it comes to the general public. We are such a diverse, open, and inclusive organization and that all stems from our basic lessons and values. Using “real” Masons, as examples of who we are and our diversity, to the general public is a great first step in changing the narrative of our messaging and image.
How do you incorporate Masonic values into everyday life?
Being a good person, putting others needs in front of your own, being open to hearing others perspectives, increasing your knowledge base, and sharing your knowledge/experiences with others are values/concepts that I strive to live up to on a daily basis. Whether I am coaching T-Ball or interacting with a co-worker, I hope that my actions reflect well on the Fraternity. The interesting thing is, the great secret of Freemasonry is that there is no secret. Those ideals that I mentioned are concepts that are not exclusive to members of our Fraternity, many if not all people live “Masonic Values”, because they align with their own and they don’t even know it.
What is your favorite thing to do with your Brothers?
My favorite thing to do with my Brothers is support our Youth Groups. There has been no greater reward in my life, outside of raising my own children, than being an adult leader for DeMolay. We get the opportunity as Mason’s to be positive male role models to a younger generation. We get to share our ideals and values in ways that they may not otherwise have in their life. Watching a young man or woman grow as person, knowing that in the background you had a small hand in their development, is special. On top of that where else would I get the chance as an adult to eat pizza, play video games, laser tag, paintball or participate in whichever fun event they have planned?
What is one piece of advice you would give to a new Mason?
Get involved, hangout, or join a committee and you will find out that the payout far exceeds your investment of time and energy. It’s cliché, but it holds true in Freemasonry more than any other place I have heard it. “The more you give to the Fraternity, the more you will get out of it”.
Learn about more faces of Ohio Freemasonry!