Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Late Night Out At Suburban Square (and Compass)

Weaving between the rows of cars at Suburban Square in Ardmore I wondered how long it would take before finding a parking space. The National Night Out festivities were already in full swing and every extra minute that passed was lost time that I could be helping my brothers and those in the community. As has become an annual tradition for our lodge, we were manning the Child Identification booth last night trying to help families keep their children safe all while not asking for a dime or keeping any information (unlike some similar programs being run in the area by a for profit company that I shall not name).

After parking on the other side of the train tracks I managed to get to the trailer about an hour after the party began. ID’s had already been processed and the line was beginning its steady growth. While not the onslaught that we experienced last year at the event, we had a regular flow of parents and children both getting identifications done and just asking questions. Once the program is explained in detail, there is almost a sense of gratitude that we would get from parents. On a certain level I understand their thoughts but at the same time it is our pleasure to give back to our community. After all, we are Masons to better ourselves, those around us, and the community in general.

Throughout the night (in addition to the plethora of people asking where to buy ride and meal tickets) we met friends, fellow masons, and police officers all guiding people to our booth. We even had a woman bring her daughter and grandchild to us after having taken her daughter through the process a decade ago. I anticipate seeing more and more of those instances as the years pass and we are able to process hundreds, if not thousands, of Child ID’s.

Another woman, guided over to us by the Lower Merion Police Department, asked if we would do the same thing at an upcoming event in September. She had previously talked to the aforementioned for-profit company, but was told by the local authorities that we were the best option. So, hopefully, we will be holding another CHIP event in early September at Ludington Library in Bryn Mawr. Just waiting for her to send me an email with the exact details.

The parking lot began to clear as soon as the music stopped.
By nine o’clock we were just finishing up the last ID of the night and we were all quite tired from the, at times, hectic pace. However, we all had energy to spare as tallied the count at 50 for the event bringing the total for the last two years over 110 children. While I hope that none of those packets ever have to be used, I am glad to play a small role in the peace of mind that those parents have thanks to our efforts and those of every other Mason in Pennsylvania and across the country. While every day I am proud to be a Mason, last night accentuated that pride I have in being a part of the greatest fraternity in the world.