West Seattle Eagles soaring to new heights as they consider their past and future
You've probably passed by it thousands of times and wondered about it, or heard people talk about it, often giving people the wrong impression, but the West Seattle Eagles is a local service organization that's seeing significant change and growth.
Past President John Ledeman said, "Our current membership is at 858 members and growing every month."
Current President Marcus Higbee said, "It's been phenomenal. We've done it through personal outreach, and through social media. I recently re-did the club website and it's gettting a great response."
Higbee, whose company A Better Network has a background in Information Technology.
Ledeman works with King County helping people stay out of jail.
So the idea of being of service to others is something the members of the Aerie share across the board. Every one of the members it seems has a cause they want to champion or people they want to help.
The reasons people join any kind of fraternal organization often have to do with wanting to be part of something larger, to be part of the community, and in fact to be of service.
The members of Aerie 2643 do that and more. Their website states, " The F.O.E. (Fraternal Order of Eagles) was founded in 1898 in Seattle on a premise of proud, caring, People Helping People that understand the needs of the many will always outweigh the needs of the few.
Simply, we change lives for the better. Over the years, our members have contributed millions of dollars to medical centers and causes ranging from diabetes to cancer. We help troubled youth, support the elderly, and uplift the less fortunate.
For 120 years, the Fraternal Order of Eagles has been a dynamic organization working to make life a bit better for others."
While the national organization was made up of those engaged in one way or another in the performing arts, the Eagles grew and claimed credit for establishing the Mother's Day holiday in the United States as well as the "impetus for Social Security" in the United States. Their lodges are known as "aeries". The West Seattle Aerie was founded in 1947.
Over the years the organization has been through many changes and developed a reputation for community service but was originally very restrictive in the kind of members that they accepted. Today, they are among the most inclusionary community organizations. They do make a distinction between what they call an Aerie membership and and a women's only Auxiliary membership.
Ledeman explained, "The membership process is as follows: Visit our club, talk with a member or members, ask for sponsorship. If you enjoy the environment and like our values, submit an application and application fee, participate in an interview with an Aerie or Auxiliary Interview Committee member, and participate in an initiation ceremony during a general meeting. Outside of the interview and initiation ceremony there is no obligation to volunteer at the club. Playing pull-tabs, enjoying a beverage, and enjoying your neighbors company supports the community as well. We will often dip into our general fund to donate to local charities.
Aerie membership (men and women) is $48 per year (Year starts June 1) with an additional $30 application fee.
Auxiliary membership (women only) is $36 per year (year starts June 1) with an additional $30 application fee.
The building they occupy was once several buildings that were subsequently put together but inside is cocktail lounge, and a large event space, The Hall that can be rented for private events.
It has a large commercial size kitchen and a separate bar. The building recently got a paint job outside, some carpet in The Hall, and the club and board of Trustees are looking at updates inside, including a renovation of the dance floor and other improvements.
The Hall rental for members is $250.00 for the day with an additional charge of $50 to utilize the kitchen, and a refundable damage deposit (These prices are subject to change by vote or the Board of Trustees) for non-members the fee is $350.00 and both include a private bartender for the upstairs bar.
150 people can be in the space but a smaller number is a bit more comfortable. The Eagles can provide set up assistance and also provide tables and chairs for events.
The club runs financially off of the social room (bar) only. No raised funds go to standard bills or wages. All club sponsored events in the hall either go to a 501-c3 charity of the host’s choice, or on occasion to club funds in order to support various aesthetic upgrades.
Meal specials are held every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday with occasional Saturdays and Sundays. Open for all Hawks games (Open early) and serve food during each game. Breakfast for the 10am games with a Bloody Mary bar (Fix your cocktail with the accoutrements of your choice).
Every year they do an open house Thanksgiving Dinner with all the fixings, free of charge to the community.
To give you a sense of the broad range of the charitable work the West Seattle Eagles do just look at this list of organizations they have donated to:
- Lambert House
- Tree House
- Seattle Childrens
- All Aboard
- Gay City
- West Seattle Senior Center
- West Seattle Food Bank
- Spinal Cord Injury Fund
- Muscular Dystrophy Fund
- Kidney Fund
- Diabetes Fund
- Cancer Fund
- Alzheimer's/Neurological Fund
- Golden Age Fund
- Parkinson's Fund
Ledeman points out, "While these were our primary charities last year locally, we provide space and funds for our members to raise money for any 501-c3 non-profit that THEY feel strongly about."
They are located at 4426 California Ave SW in the West Seattle Junction. Call them at (206) 938-4426.
You can find them on the web at http://www.westseattleeagles.org