When I first became a Mason, I hadn’t really thought about becoming a Shriner. I thought that maybe someday in the future, but not for a long time. One night after a lodge meeting, I was having dinner and drinks with the Brothers of my lodge in the restaurant of Mizpah Shrine. One of the brethren asked me: “When are you going to become a Shriner?” I laughed and said: "Maybe one day." I had just joined both the York and Scottish Rite. The idea of spending more money to become a Shriner seemed a bit crazy at the moment. After that, I excused myself to use the men’s room. When I returned to me seat there was a signed petition sitting at my place of the table.
One of the Brothers saw me look at the piece of paper, which was a signed petition, and said “We heard you, but we really think you would make a good member. We took up a collection and we paid for your invitation fee. We already turned it in so there is no backing out.” So a few weeks later, I became a Noble of the Mystic Shrine.
I wasn’t an active Shriner by comparison to some Nobles. I joined the “Yoshi” or Young Shriner's group, as well as a local county Shrine club. But majority of my time I served Mizpah Shrine as their webmaster, magazine editor and as a member of the temple’s Public Relations committee. So majority of my work was done sitting at the computer of my home.
The first time I visited a Shriner's hospital I was invited to speak to a group of Shrine Public Relations people at the hospital in Chicago. I had created the first Shriner's email newsletter and I was asked to explain to others how it worked and how the Nobles could start one for their Shrine Center.
I remember the first time I signed a referral. I was the webmaster for the Shrine. I got a desperate email from a Grandmother. Her eight year old Grandson was playing with a lighter and accidentally set his bed on fire. His parents luckily put out the fire before their trailer burned down and the boys’ brothers and sisters perished in the fire.
The boy was rushed to the local hospital. All of the time he was in the burn unit, the nurses continually scolded this boy, telling him “How bad he was” and “He should be ashamed of himself.” At the same time, his parents were forced to give the hospital money they couldn’t afford before the hospital would even consider treating him. Both parents were making minimum wage, had no insurance and were barely able to feed their kids.
His Grandmother emailed the site begging to see if there was anything the Shriners could do. Within minutes, I, along with the Potentate of the Shrine, was on the phone with that lady. Within a week, that little boy and his parents were on his way to Cincinnati to the Burn hospital. His parents were apprehensive because they were not sure if their old, non-air conditioned van would make it there, let alone find the gas money. We told them we would drive them there in one of our vans and even feed them on the trip. You could tell they were relieved.
The boy was treated and recovered. Didn’t cost his family a cent, because men in funny hats raised money for just such an occasion. I got to meet him a few months later at a Patient Appreciation day. His Mother and Father sought me out and wanted to introduce me to him. He was a skinny little kid with blonde hair and a big smile, He was playing with his siblings. The little guy came up and give a big hug. He had that big smile on his face and he simply said “Thank You”. Being able to impact that child's life (and many other children's lives) in a positive way is the reason I am a Shriner.
WB Bill Hosler was made a Master Mason in 2002 in Three Rivers Lodge #733 in Indiana. He served as Worshipful Master in 2007 and became a member of the internet committee for Indiana's Grand Lodge. Bill is currently a member of Roff Lodge No. 169 in Roff Oklahoma and Lebanon Lodge No. 837 in Frisco, Texas. Bill is also a member of the Valley of Fort Wayne Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite in Indiana. A typical active Freemason, Bill also served as the High Priest of Fort Wayne's Chapter of the York Rite No. 19 and was commander of the Fort Wayne Commandery No. 4 of the Knight Templar. During all this, he also served as the webmaster and magazine editor for the Mizpah Shrine in Fort Wayne Indiana.