I'm fortunate to have a lot of friends, quite a few I met when I was in DeMolay growing up in Great Falls, which is sort of being a Shriner for younger guys.

I was 13 years old, and my folks had recently divorced. My mom worked a lot, and kids in that situation can easily start making bad choices. At that time, there weren't a lot of organized activities for kids my age to do, so I had a lot of time on my hands.

One day my neighbor, Jack Harper, told me about an organization he had joined called DeMolay, an organization for young men aged 12-21. So I joined. We met on Wednesday nights.

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We did a lot of community service projects like our "Coffee Stops". Every Memorial Day and Labor Day, we'd take coffee and donuts and set up at the rest stops on I-15 between Great Falls and Helena. Anybody that pulled in got free coffee and donuts.

At the time, I was the smallest guy in the group, so I was volunteered to climb through the back seat of a traveler who had locked his keys in his trunk.

We also had dances with the Rainbow Girls and Job's Daughters, which was great for those of us who couldn't get prom dates at school.

Fast forward to my job where we do the same kind of things in the community. Jack Harper has been friends with me for almost 50 years. Next time you are in Godfather's Pizza, tell him hello. He's worked for them for 40 years.

Not only did DeMolay steer me to some great friends, but it also kept a very susceptible kid away from bad decisions. I'm still very thankful.

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