The Fraternal Order of Eagles ~ People Helping People ~

by | Oct 1, 2008 | Community, Features

Story by Dianne Edwards

The kindness of one can be multiplied through the generosity of others. The result . . . a donated semi- ‘disaster relief’ trailer stocked with supplies to be used by those in need. And not just in one state, but in each state of the county if the Fraternal Order of the Eagles’ Grand Worthy President John Potter has his way. The national focus for the Eagles organization is to have a “Disaster Relief” trailer for every state, totally outfitted and ready to be dispatched whenever a disaster occurs 
Arkansas is at the top of their game, according to Wayne Mikkelson, Arkansas State Disaster Relief Chairman for the Arkansas State Fraternal Order of Eagle (F.O.E.) Members.
And Russellville, with one of the 13 Aeries (chapters) and 11 Auxiliaries, has met the challenge with the donation of a semi-trailer from business owner and Russellville #3928 Aerie member Gene Putnam of Russellville. That, coupled with the generous donations of supplies to stock the trailer, will enable the organization to accomplish their goal of having a trailer ready and stocked to be dispatched when needed.
Triggered first by the spring storms plaguing Arkansas this past spring, the need for immediate mobile assistance was further driven home by the relentless waves of two inwardly-driven rain- filled hurricanes.
Volunteering came from outside the Aerie and Auxiliary, as well. Lettering on the both sides of the donated trailer were applied through efforts of the owners and employees of Happy Days RV in Russellville. Bearing the F.O.E. logos and Aerie and Auxiliaries affiliation information on both sides and back, the trailer makes a huge traveling banner illustrating the Eagle’s purpose of “people helping people.”
Although the trailer was not outfitted in time to serve the victims of Hurricane Ike, “we are on our way. Another phase in getting the trailer ready for dispatch has been completed,” said Wayne Mikkelson, president of the Russellville #3928 Aerie.
“Recently about 35 volunteers from around the State and Russellville were present to assemble the personal hygiene kits. It was a lot of work but everyone seemed to enjoy themselves,” he added. More than 1,200 of these kits were assembled, say participants.
Non-perishable foods have been ordered and should arrive within 10 days, added Mikkelson.

“As of Sept. 25, the generator, tent, tool and storage boxes, pallet jacks, cook stove, and horizontal propane cylinders were ordered and should arrive shortly,” said Mikkelson.
A list of more than forty other items, such as tarps, trash bags, first aid kits, camp- type chairs, blankets, ice chests and LPG tanks, are included and will be purchased and/or donated, as well.
“Wal-Mart has told us that pallets of water would be available when requested,” added Mikkelson.
“We’ve come a long way in just a few short months and everyone in the State of Arkansas should pat themselves and their brothers and sisters on the back,” he added in a recent letter to Arkansas’s 13 Aeries and 11 Auxiliaries.
Certification is underway to see that the trailer’s volunteer disaster support crews are trained properly, “as each county is different as to what training they require their crews to have,” added Mikkelson.

Training may be available at the State Workshop so that all would be qualified to serve any disaster area within the State of Arkansas, he said. FEMA-approved courses are available online and may be utilized by the F.O.E. volunteers.
The Fraternal Order of Eagles are an international non-profit organization. They work to “unite fraternally in the spirit of liberty, truth, justice, and equality, to make human life more desirable by lessening its ills, and by promoting peace, prosperity, gladness and hope.”
The F.O.E. was founded in February 1898 by six theatre owners gathered in a Seattle, Wash., shipyard to discuss a musician’s strike. They agreed to “bury the hatchet” and form “The Order of Good Things.”

As numbers grew, members selected the Bald Eagle as the official emblem and changed the name to “The Fraternal Order of Eagles.” The women’s auxiliary traces its roots to 1927.
The membership exceeds 1.1 million with more than 1,700 local aeries (male groups) in the U.S. and Canada. Women’s auxiliaries total more than 1,500, with more than 335,000 members. Members are recruited by other members and must be sponsored by two members before the membership process begins.
The organization’s major accomplishments, according to their website, include: founding Mother’s Day, serving as a driving forces in founding Social Security program, and helping end job discrimination based on age with their Jobs After 40 program. They also distributed copies of the Ten Commandments and fought to keep the Commandments in public places.
More than $100 million a year is donated by F.O.E. members to local communities, fundraisers, charities and more. As part of its philosophy, the F.O.E. gives back 100 percent of monies raised in the form of grants.
Fundraisers are conducted for eight major charities, including kidney, heart, diabetes, cancer and spinal cord injury funds, a children’s fund, memorial foundation and the Golden Eagle Fund.

Noteworthy Members have included former presidents Theodore R. Roosevelt, Warren G. Harding, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan; comedian Bob Hope, boxer Max Baer, NASCAR driver Tony Stewart, performer Billy Ray Cyrus and Tony Orlando, among others.
Women’s Auxiliary members have included: Bess Truman, wife of former U.S. president; Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of former U.S. president; Virginia Graham, radio and TV personality, and Susan Wagner, wife of New York Mayor Robert Wagner.
For more than a century, the Fraternal Order of Eagles has had a major positive influence on their region, nation, world…and most importantly on their communities.  

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