Updated: Nov 19, 2021
Just a few weeks ago, history took place at Swainsboro Moose Lodge No. 1930 as, for the first time ever, two women were installed into leadership roles. In doing so, the local club joined others like it across the country in the accomplishment as a new initiative called Moose One was implemented, unifying what once was the Loyal Order of the Moose, historically for men only, and Women of the Moose, formerly an organization adjoined to it for females. While it would be easy to rest on the laurels that the organizations are now one and the same and, even better, women can lead, the local Moose isn’t doing that. Instead, area members are focused on a single goal: to re-shape the public’s perception of Lodge No. 1930.
Understanding Moose International, Women of the Moose, and One Moose
The Loyal Order of the Moose, or “Moose International,” was founded in 1888 in Mooseheart, Illinois as a fraternal and service organization. In its earliest years, the Moose was to offer men an opportunity to gather socially, to care for one another’s needs, and to celebrate life together. Over time, the organization rapidly expanded to include community service. The organization’s main outreach programs are Mooseheart, a residential facility located on a 1,000-acre campus just 38 miles west of Chicago that serves as a home for children and teens in need due to families being unable to provide adequate care for whatever reason; Moosehaven, a private, membership-based retirement community situated on the banks of the Saint Johns River in the heart of Orange Park, Florida for seniors 65-years-old and up; and Heart of the Community, the mission of which varies from lodge to lodge, although a common go-to for many lodges, including Lodge No. 1930, is the Tommy Moose initiative, which provides plush dolls for children during traumatic times.
In 1913, Moose International evolved to include women, specifically by way of the founding of Women of the Moose. Female members in particular, over the years, have worked in harmony with their male Moose counterparts to provide a helping hand to those in need, dedicating countless funds, volunteer hours, and travel miles to assist with the logistics of the community outreach programs.
Up until the transition to Moose One, the two men’s and women’s organizations combined for a membership greater than 1,000,000. Moose International and Women of the Moose contribute some $75 to $100 million worth of community service (monetary donations, volunteer hours, and miles driven) yearly.
In September 2017, the leadership from Moose International and Women of the Moose came together and formed a committee for the purpose of formally uniting the organizations. Over the next few years, the committee worked out the specifics of merging memberships, dues, honors, chapter finances, and, most importantly, allowing women to hold leadership roles in the new, joint structure that would eventually be dubbed “Moose One.” The plan was finalized in 2020 and eventually implemented on May 1, 2021.
Changes on the local level
The local result of the implementation saw Kim Adams installed as administrator a month ago. She now handles the budgets and accounts, community outreach, and paperwork. Stephanie Riner was installed as social quarters manager that same evening as well, making her officially responsible for overseeing that area. She is also tasked with booking bands for entertainment, managing employees, and ordering and stocking. As monumental as the occasion was, Adams and Riner explained to The Crossroads last Wednesday they are most excited about not the roles themselves but rather using them to help in Lodge No. 1930’s goal of bettering its reputation.
While Swainsboro’s Moose Lodge has always participated in community outreach programs, Adams says the chapter’s purpose has somehow gotten lost in the eyes of the public in recent years. One Moose provides a unique opportunity for Moose Lodges across the country to essentially re-brand, and the local Moose is no different. Because women and men are now part of the same chapter under One Moose as opposed to gender-specific branches like in years past, the hope of area leadership is that more members will join. That, in turn, means more hands on deck for working community benefits.
“The Moose Lodge is so much more than just a bar,” Adams said. “I think over the years, people have formed a misconception about us—that we’re a bar with an organization attached. It’s the other way around. What people need to realize we are first and foremost an organization; we just have social quarters attached to our physical lodge. The work Stephanie does as social quarters manager is so important because the money we raise from our gatherings at the lodge and the money raised through renting of the lodge all goes directly back into philanthropy.”
Unfortunately, Lodge No. 1930’s philanthropic work usually goes unnoticed by the public. Over the years, local Moose men and women have worked together to put on various benefits for individuals and causes. Most recently, the group donated five gallons of paint to Latitude 105 for the purpose of improving facilities to include the creation of a children’s room there. The donated chalkboard paint will be used to decorate that particular area of the building. Additionally, the local Moose presented a number of Tommy Moose dolls to Emanuel County Sheriff’s Office, Swainsboro Police Department, and other area law enforcement agencies. These dolls remain inside patrol vehicles for officers to hand out to children in stressful situations as needed. This past weekend, Lodge No. 1930 organized a benefit bike ride, complete with a dance and an auction, bringing dozens to 206 Harmon Drive in Swainsboro, the club’s physical home.
The local lodge has a slate of events planned for the future. (Keep a lookout for details about the specifics of these plans in the future.) Of course, Adams and Riner will have parts to play in all of these undertakings, but they certainly won’t be able to do it alone. Fellow new leaders President Hugh Riner, Vice President Brian Hall, Treasurer Joey Lamb, Chaplain Brent Ross, Sergeant-of-Arms Josh Riner, and Trustees Steve Williams, Mike Barton, and Ryan Riner, along with other Lodge No. 1930 members will work together to pull off these plans as well as others in the long-term. The chapter’s message to the public in the meantime is simple: come see what the Swainsboro Moose organization is about.
“We’re a community organization through and through. Everything we do, whether it’s benefits of our own to raise money for our chapter to go toward One Moose programs or if it’s a benefit for someone in the community, we do these things out of love and care for our fellow man. We get together to make a difference and have a good time doing it,” Adams said. “One of our goals is to start making the public more aware of what we’ve got going on and the good things we’re doing so that hopefully more people will want to become involved. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about. Come join us and see what you can help us do for the community. Come to one of our events, maybe come and become a member… Whatever joining us looks like for you, just do it. Come see what we’re about! Come help us make a difference!”