BY KATIE MATTESON
“The Fraternal Order of Eagles is an international non-profit organization uniting fraternally in the spirit of liberty, truth, justice, and equality, to make human life more desirable by lessening its ills and promoting peace, prosperity, gladness and hope.”
Racine Aerie No. 281 has been carrying out this mission since the chapter was chartered in 1902. And the Ladies Auxiliary will celebrate its 91st anniversary in June.
A group of Eagles and Auxiliary members recently gathered at the Eagles Club at 319 Hamilton St. and talked about their personal experiences and the legacy of the local club.
When Mary Genich was state president in 2017-2018, she took on a fundraising campaign for the James A. Peterson Veteran Village, hosted by Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin. Her campaign raised $17,000 and the chapter continues to support the program by collecting food and supplies for the village.
Currently 63 members belong to the Auxiliary and 76 members belong to the local Aerie.
Mary’s husband Kai explained that the whole purpose of the organization is “people helping people.”
When he took his turn as state president in 2016-17, he spearheaded a statewide campaign to support the Ascension All Saints Foundation’s Hope Fund. The fund assists cancer patients with financial need.
The cause hit close to home, as his wife Mary is a cancer survivor.
To fulfill its annual contribution to the Hope Fund, the chapter held its 12th Annual Jammin’ for Cancer Fundraiser on Jan. 27. The event featured multiple bands, raffle, silent auction and food for sale.
On Sunday, June 23, the chapter will hold its 14th annual Classic Car and Antique and Custom Motorcycle show from noon to 4 p.m. at the Eagles Club. Proceeds from the event will benefit Ascension All Saints.
There is a $10 registration fee to enter a vehicle, but no fee for spectators. Food and beverages will be sold and a raffle will be held. Awards presentation and grant presentation to Ascension All Saints will take place at 4:30 p.m.
Funds contributed to charity are pooled by the Fraternal Order of Eagles Charity Foundation, which returns 100% of all funds raised in the form of grants. Grant recipients are required to prove that no portion of the grant received will be used to fund administrative costs.
The foundation hosts a variety of funds, including the Art Ehrmann Cancer Fund, Max Baer Heart Fund, Jimmy Durante Children’s Fund, Robert Hansen Diabetes Fund, D.D. Dunlap Kidney Fund, M. Floyd Alzheimer’s Fund and the Lew Reed Spinal Cord Injury Fund.
The organization is proud of its philanthropic legacy, becoming the first organization to reach $1 million in donations to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, donating several hundred thousand dollars in aid to help solidify the Truman Cardiovascular Lab and Heart Fund Research Lab at Sutton Medical Research Foundation, and its crown jewel – the $25 million Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center at the University of Iowa.
Rich and Mona Fortier have contributed 38 combined years of service to the organization. Rich is the chairman of the board and manager of the clubhouse, while Mona spent many years as an Auxiliary officer.
At 83, Rich is one of the older members, while Nate Felski, 22, holds the title of youngest member. “I grew up an Eagle,” he said. “I started coming here when I was a baby.”
Lynn Lang, Jr. started coming to the club as a child and joined when he turned 18. Now his wife, Jill is an Auxiliary member and their foster kids are frequent visitors. Lynn Sr. joined the club in 1989 and is proud of his role in starting the dart ball league, which has been active for 15 years. He’s up for the office of treasurer when elections take place next month.
New members are always welcome. The annual dues come with benefits, such as enrollment in the Eagles Memorial Foundation, which provides medical and educational benefits to the children of Eagles who lose their lives while serving in the military or in the commission of their daily employment.
Members gather for monthly meetings and to help host the Friday Fish Fries that are open to the public from 5-9 p.m. every week. The public is also welcome to the club’s weekly Sunday brunch from 8-11 a.m.
In addition, the club welcomes guests to join in the celebration during the 4th of July parade. Seating is available in front of the building and food and drink are available inside, including the club’s traditional Bloody Mary.
For more information about club membership or facility rental, call (262) 633-1138 or email firstname.lastname@example.org