People Helping People ~ FOE ~

by | Dec 1, 2011 | Community, Features

The Fraternal Order of Eagles uphold and nourish the values of home,  family and community that are so necessary and it seems so often ignored and trampled in today’s society.”
“People helping people.” The concept is both a simple idea and a noble thought. It is one of the foundations of society as we know it. For some people – in particular members of the Fraternal Order of Eagles (F.O.E.) — these three words carry great responsibility. The group has not only made these words its motto, their members have made the words their mission.
The Fraternal Order of Eagles has been in existence since 1898. It all began when six competing theatre owners gathered in a Seattle, Wash., shipyard. The owners met to discuss a musician’s strike that affected all of their businesses. As the meeting progressed the issue of the strike was settled and the owners decided to “bury the hatchet” in regards to their business competition. They resolvedtofocustheirenergyondoinggood things and the brotherhood that became the F.O.E. was born. It was originally named “The Order of Good Things.”

The Theatre owners continued with meetings and as the organization grew they decided on the bald eagle as a fitting symbol and changed their name to “The Fraternal Order of Eagles”. The name of the building in which the organization meets is called an “aerie,” named after the nest of hawks, eagles, and other birds of prey which are built in the highest branches of trees.
Earliest members of the newly-founded fraternity were other theatre owners, actors, and stagehands. The rapid spread of the organization across the country was due in large part to these traveling performers and stagehands. The transcendent idea of a group of people whose goal was to do good things bolstered its popularity as well and F.O.E. membership today exceeds 850,000; the Ladies Auxiliary has over 250,000 members.
The F.O.E has been responsible or partly responsible for some long- held institutions in this country including Mother’s Day, the Social Security program and the “Jobs After Forty” program which helped end age discrimination in the workplace. Some of the F.O.E.’s more prestigious members include Theodore Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and Bob Hope. Notable members of the Women’s Auxiliary include Bess Truman and Eleanor Roosevelt. That’s quite a resume for an organization that seems to fly under the radar (pun intended).

The River Valley is home to a very active chapter of the F.O.E., and though the fruit of their labor is most visible during the holidays, they are working hard at helping people all year long.
One of these year-long endeavors is the Children’s Christmas Fund. Preparations for the Children’s Christmas Fund 2011 started immediately following Christmas 2010, according to Anna Bates, Committee Chairperson for this year’s event.

“We start with raffles and bake sales in January and we do more of these throughout the year. The more money we can raise, the more kids and families we can help.”
The Children’s Christmas Fund is a way to assist those children and families that need help. Anna explained how the Christmas Fund is put into action.
“We work with the schools in the Russellville District, the counselors specifically, and Counseling Associates to help us find the kids that could use a little help during the holidays. We spend $100 per child and if the selected children have brothers or sisters, then we spend $100 on them as well.”
The children are not the only beneficiaries, the families also receive a food basket.
“Tyson Foods is a big contributor for our food baskets, providing chicken and other meats,” she added.
Anna is proud of how much the Children’s Christmas fund has grown over the years.
“We started with one child and that was 11 years ago, last year we were able to help 73 children. The only thing that limits the number of kids we can help is the amount of money we can raise. That’s why there’s really no time to waste.”
Besides raffles, bake sales, and dinner sales the F.O.E. also asks community business leaders to support its cause.
“The Russellville Chamber of Commerce has been a wonderful support to our efforts. Each autumn we send donation letters to all of the Chamber members and every year we get a great response. It’s encouraging to see the spirit of the Fraternal Order of Eagles spread throughout our community.”
The Children’s Christmas Fund is just one way that the F.O.E. works to help people.
The organization also conducts fundraisers for major diseases including kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes, and spinal cord injuries. The F.O.E operates a disaster relief truck as well, providing help and support for the community and surrounding communities in the unfortunate event of a major catastrophe.aturday, February 25, 2012
All of this good being done, not for recognition, not for any kind of personal gain, but because it is the right thing to do.
These selfless qualities are surely what prompted F.O.E. member President Harry S. Truman to often reiterate that the Eagles were his type of organization – one founded by, and for the common man. People helping people; for the Fraternal Order of Eagles this motto represents more than a way of thinking, it represents a way of living.
For more information about how you can help the F.O.E. or become a member, contact the Russellville Aerie at (479) 967-6164 or contact Anna Bates at (479) 857-7171.


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