HELENA – How one deals with hardship says a great deal about who they are as a person.
What does it say about someone who endures a catastrophic loss and then works to give back to the community?
On the morning of May 16 Montanans woke up to learn that Broadwater County Sheriff’s Deputy Mason Moore was killed in a shooting.
He left behind a wife and three kids. He also left the Townsend community in mourning, along with law officers across the state and the country.
Now, his wife, Jodi Moore is finding a way to honor the memory of her husband and give back to his brothers and sisters in blue.
A few weeks ago, it was a picture-perfect autumn day at Headwaters State Park north of Three Forks, where Bozeman photographer Jeff Krogstad and his team were busy with a photo session organized by Jodi Moore.
“Almost six months,” said Jodi. Nearly six months since her life changed forever when her husband was ambushed on Highway 287 West of Three Forks.
“I’m doing okay. It’s a roller coaster ride, but doing the best I can,” said Jodi.
Now, taking hope out of grief and with help of Krogstad, Jodi is creating a calendar of cops for 2018.
“To educate the public about what they do. And humanize them,” said Jodi.
The project is part of the newly formed Mason Moore Foundation. A charitable organization founded by Jodi and her supporters. She calls them the “Foundation Girls”. Volunteers who are helping Jodi with her project.
Jodi spent most of a recent Saturday talking with law officers and their families, hugging them, laughing with them and remembering her deputy husband.
Despite the hugs and laughter, the day was a difficult experience for Jodi. This time last year, at the same location, Mason was with her and their kids for a family portrait session.
She almost didn’t attend this recent session, the hurt from her loss is still evident. Every day.
But thanks to strong support, she made it through.
“I think it’s been helpful both for me and for the officers, to have a lot of fun and a lot of laughs and picking at each other and it’s been fun. I always considered them brothers and sisters before Mason was killed and they’re still definitely brothers and sisters.”
“Mason was very quiet but very a strong individual,” said Ben Caucutt, Belgrade Police Officer and Mason’s good friend for five years. “He loved his family very much.”
The calendar is the first product of the foundation, created in honor of Jodi’s husband, dedicated to benefiting law officers and law enforcement agencies state-wide.
Financial support along with, more importantly, encouragement, understanding and appreciation. “Based on the response that I’ve received so far from all the people that want to order the calendars,” said Jodi. “That alone should let them know that they’re loved and supported and that they’re valued.”
Following Mason’s death, Jodi has seen her family grow, as law officers across the state have adopted her and her kids.
“They’ve been awesome…I mean…I couldn’t go through it without them. Between the kids and those relationships, that’s what’s helping me get out of the bed in the morning. And that’s what’s helping me put one foot in front of the other,” said Jodi.
Through the calendar project, Jodi wants Montanans to learn more about the men and women who wear the uniform.
“This is therapy for me,” said Jodi. “I want them to associate a name to a face.”
“We think, we feel, we understand where people are coming from,” said Officer Caucutt. “And we have a duty to do our job.”
Jodi also wants the public to understand the sacrifices that officers, deputies and their families make every day.
“What their lives are really like. The fact that they miss dance recitals. They miss Christmas. They miss Thanksgiving. They miss so many things. They miss a lot out of their children’s lives,” she added.
“I hope it gives them (Jodi’s family) some healing and some love from the community,” Caucutt said.
Hope from grief. Laughter from tears. Finding a meaningful purpose from the worst possible loss.
Jodi ended the interview with the profound response, same thing she said during Mason’s memorial service in Belgrade months ago: “Love Wins.”
Love is what keeps Jodi going. Love for her kids and for her law enforcement family.
Jodi said the calendars will be on sale at the Three Forks and Townsend Christmas Strolls in December.
The price of the calendar is $14.38, in honor of Deputy Moore’s badge number: 438.
Jodi said the foundation website will launch in a few weeks.