According to the official Fraternal Order of the Eagles website, the Eagles is “an international nonprofit 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,” with the motto being “People Helping People.”
The Gig Harbor Eagles Aerie 2809 was instituted on April 24, 1948, with 228 charter members. They would have gatherings and dinners which their wives would help host and put on. The ladies Auxiliary was instituted on April 29, 1950, with 54 charter members. The only two charter members left are Eric O. Asplund and his wife Bette. The first meetings were held in the basement of the Pastime Building until 1956 and then moved to Fortnightly Hall. In April of 1958, the Gig Harbor Eagles moved into their new Aerie Home, where they still are today.
According to an article of a past president and charter member, “Our first fundraiser was for the stage curtain at Peninsula High School when it was built. $500 was raised, which was a large amount in those days. This fundraiser was a dance held at Horseshoe Lake Pavilion, which has since been torn down.
Our first civic project was Gig Harbor City Park in which the club was instrumental in having the deed reverted to the City of Gig Harbor from the school district. The park was in disrepair, and many hours were spent by the members of Gig Harbor Aerie in maintaining the park, cutting the grass, revamping the restrooms and cooking area. For many years this is where the club held the annual Easter Egg Hunt.
Gig Harbor Aerie and its Auxiliary have spent many hours in our community projects. The club has had a Christmas party, Halloween and Easter Egg Hunt every year since we were instituted for the children of Gig Harbor and surrounding area. The Eagles also have scholarships each year and sponsor various activities.
Gig Harbor Aerie and Auxiliary have dinners on most Friday nights and special occasions. Dancing is also held on Friday nights and Saturday nights, breakfast every Sunday. Other special occasions include Crab Feeds, Buffalo Feed, Pig Roast, Annual PicNic, Children’s Christmas Party, Halloween, Sweetheart Ball, fundraisers for scholarships and charities. The hall is available for rent for weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, etc. Receptions are held for deceased members. A Memorial is held each May for deceased members of the Aerie and Auxiliary. We also have an RV and motorcycle club for those interested.”
According to Ruby Gibson, the current manager, the Club has nearly 900 members. Ruby has been the manager for two years. She has been a member of the Auxiliary for 20 years and was a bartender for the Eagles for 16 years. The story of how Ruby came into the Eagles Club is a perfect example of the commitment of the club to make lives better for others. Ruby’s profession was in the banking industry. When her husband passed away, Ruby’s friends invited her to come to the Eagles. There were many social events at the time, and Ruby felt it was a safe place for a single woman to go and socialize. She was still doing a lot of volunteer work for the Eagles when she was asked to become manager.
When Ruby took over, the club was having a difficult time financially, but with a great board or trustees, staff and members, the club was able to turn it around. Leadership was strategic in eliminating unneeded costs. The addition of new events and activities also helped to generate revenue. The Gig Harbor Eagles has the largest dance floor in Gig Harbor. All of the dinners, breakfasts, special functions and events are done by volunteers—The Fraternal Order of Eagles depends on their volunteers. “We have something going on almost every day and night,” said Ruby.
The Gig Harbor Eagles has a huge reach in the community and fundraising. In September, an annual “Fun Vention” was held of past presidents of the Aerie and Auxiliary in the state of Washington to raise money for scholarships for high school graduates; those who are about to graduate or those who are about to go on to college.
The Auxiliary was able to donate $10,000 to Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital last year. Money is raised every year from the Annual Heart Ball. Other charity fundraisers are held for diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s, Jimmy Durante’s Abused Children’s Fund and Pope’s Kids Place. The Aerie, Auxiliary and Vagabond RV Club gave $500 each, which was sent to Eagles in Texas for the flood victims. The Eagles is also a great source of social events. People can book wedding, birthday parties, holiday parties and more at the Eagles facility. A Membership Drive Open House Halloween Party was held in October. It was a great success with 350 tickets and some great costumes, according to Ruby.
As one can see, the Gig Harbor Eagles do not just fly but soar in helping the community in diverse ways. For membership information please visit: Sites.google.com/site/harborhappenings. You will not regret it!