A Message From

DERRICK G. SANDERS

Founder of
TROWEL & TRESTLE

My Story

I started my journey into the Masonic Family through my father and DeMolay.
When I was young my father would tell me stories from his childhood about growing up in New Jersey. Mixed in with all the stories you would expect to hear about young boys growing up in Jersey, there was one in particular, a little unlike the rest, that truly resonated with me. He told me a story about him and a few friends going to the nearby veteran’s hospital to push wheelchaired veterans from their rooms down to the chapel and back for Sunday worship. What struck me was that these young boys could’ve spent their time getting into trouble or playing games but instead, spent their time doing something positive for others and their community, without expecting anything in return. When I mentioned that these boys didn’t seem like the typical kids I had heard about, he remarked that it was because this was his DeMolay Chapter. He told me about his experience in Raritan Chapter, Order of DeMolay, but also that he had lost connection with DeMolay when he moved to Northern Virginia as a teenage boy. Even with his short-lived time in DeMolay, it had left a lasting impression on him, and thus a lasting impression on me as well.

When I was a senior in high school, I looked to join Occoquan DeMolay. I came in the door as a shy teenage kid who hated public speaking and never felt comfortable in social groups. Coming from the typical high school experience, where I was used to other kids my age teasing me and bullying everybody they laid eyes on, I was stunned when I walked in the door for the first time and every single person, regardless of age, background, etc, got up, greeted me and shook my hand. I knew I had come to the right place. DeMolay taught me the virtues and skills I needed in life, those skills that don’t often get taught in school (ex. Public speaking, how to run a business meeting, event planning/executing, etc.). I was able to quickly advance to Master Councilor, State Master Councilor, and Region II Cabinet Member before aging out. During my time in DeMolay I also joined Occoquan Lodge #310 A.F. & A.M. Their support during my growth inspired me to seek membership in Freemasonry.

Joining Masonry was an incredible bonding experience for my father and me. I would later learn that it was a very unique experience for the lodge as well. We went through our Entered Apprentice Degree side by side. I was then Passed to the Degree of Fellowcraft. I learned the SD lecture and performed the part for my father’s F.C. Degree. He was then Raised to the Degree of Master Mason and subsequently performed my Raising. It was an incredible experience that opened the doors to such a special fraternity. A few short years later my father and I served as Worshipful Masters back to back and High Priests of our Royal Arch chapters the following years.

Fast forward to early 2022, I had a few friends visiting from out of state. I was lucky to be born and raised near the George Washington Masonic National Memorial. I would take the tour when I was little and then attend events there with the Masonic-based organizations I joined later on. It was the perfect place to bring my visiting friends. We were fortunate to be given a private tour of the Memorial. I learned, however, that the Memorial had still been struggling to fully reopen after the pandemic shutdown. Being a real estate agent, my availability was rather flexible. I inquired about joining the team at the GWMNM, which led me down the path of becoming the Director of Events at the memorial.

While guiding some of the tours at the Memorial and attending/working some of the events I came across a recurring scenario. I would befriend a visiting or local mason, add them to my social media and never see their content again after the first week. I was meeting people from all over the US and all over the world. We would have invigorating conversations followed by getting lost in the algorithms of social media. I wanted to find a better way to get connected and stay connected with the members of the masonic family across the globe.

My Vision

TROWEL & TRESTLE was created in response to a few significant needs I see facing the Masonic Family and my desire to better connect with other members around the world. Another one of those needs is better communication/awareness. That contributes directly to staying connected. Through my travels across the country and even in my local area there are events that take place all the time but that I don’t hear about until afterwards. It’s hard to find active lodge websites, Facebook pages, etc. I added a global calendar to T&T where individuals can create events on behalf of their lodge/chapter/etc. You can even create ticketed events and recurring event series such as a stated meeting. Other individuals can then subscribe to those events and series by adding them directly to their personal calendars. You can search with filters based on organization, location, etc.


I added another major communication/awareness feature on the site. On T&T there are groups with document uploading so you will be able to join, for instance, a district/regional group and upload your groups trestleboard/newsletter. The members of that group will be able to go directly to their documents page and see those group documents in one place.

Another concern I’ve always had is buying masonic-related products online. Oftentimes, if you are on ebay, etsy or something similar, the vendor is somebody with no connection to our organizations, who has copied and pasted a masonic symbol on their product. That means your money is likely going to somebody who is just trying to make money off our organizations. I wanted to find a way to support vendors that have a true connection to the Masonic Family. Thus I added a multi-vendor marketplace to T&T. A place where you know your money is supporting somebody who cares about our organizations and as a vendor you know that the person purchasing your product is doing so with good intentions.

The final need that I’ll discuss here is the need for better education. Whether it be a Master Councilor needing to learn effective public speaking skills, a Senior Warden looking to learn how to have a successful year as master, a new member wanting to learn more about historic masonic architecture, a group needing a program for their stated meeting, etc., there is a massive need to have a platform where you can find these resources. Grand Lodge websites are a fantastic resource for education materials but an interactive environment where the members can assist each other in their growth would be a new way of learning in the Masonic Family. Courses on T&T can be static, dynamic, completely on your own, through group video calls, etc. We have so many members within our organizations with a wealth of knowledge and that want to share their knowledge and experiences. On T&T those members can apply to be instructors and give back to the community through paid for free courses they create.

All of these features and the many others are the ingredients of TROWEL & TRESTLE that I strongly believe will bring our invaluable organizations into the modern world. I understand that the idea of it being a paid site might put some people off (another paid subscription… yay!). But, there are a few major reasons it needs to be paid. Most websites use sponsored/targeted ads, selling your information to drive those ads and thus revenue. TROWEL & TRESTLE has no outside ads. The only advertisements you’ll see are ads from within the site itself (ex. An event or E-Learning course). Another reason is that this site is a complex build that costs a lot to operate. Membership verification will be a time-consuming process as well. As the membership builds it will need more manpower behind it to make sure it runs smoothly and consistently. We are also looking to add more features in the future as well as a dedicated mobile app. Different people in different places of the world have varying financial situations and the value of the USD varies greatly. While taking everything into consideration and being sensitive to those concerns we kept the price as low as possible with options to pay monthly and yearly to better fit those variable financial situations.

After endless research, extremely late nights, and countless hours of work, I am so proud of how TROWEL & TRESTLE has turned out. I can’t wait to see it grow in the future. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and I hope you will join T&T on our journey in Uniting the Masonic Family. Thank you to the George Washington Masonic National Memorial for believing in TROWEL & TRESTLE and seeing its limitless potential for not only Freemasonry but the entire Masonic Family.

Sincerely,

Derrick G. Sanders

Founder of
TROWEL & TRESTLE