Moose supreme governor visits a local lodge

In visiting the South Williamsport club, the supreme governor of over 1,400 Loyal Order of Moose lodges in the continental United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, emphasized the organization’s charity work, Friday.

As this year’s highest elected official in the organization, Rodney Hammond is tasked with traveling throughout the country to visit with lodges.

“Our mission is to protect the young,” he said.

The LOOM created a program called the Safe Surfin’ Foundation, based in Virginia, which catalogues childrens’ DNA and portrait photographs in case the child is ever lost or goes missing.

“I’d like to think we’re just a little bit more proactive than other fraternal organizations,” he said.

The main focus of the international organization’s leadership is Moosehaven — a school for disadvantaged youth, located 40 miles outside of Chicago. The campus staff teach 200 children at their own schools and support them through four years of college.

Among its own ranks, however, Hammond said group solidarity is important.

“We’re very motivated to take care of each other,” he said. “If we have a member in our organization, who has a death in the family or sickness, we try to look after them, or provide funeral services and that type of thing.”

For the elderly, LOOM maintains a retirement home for long-time members who are unable to take care of themselves monetarily, said Hammond. Those members must forfeit all of their assets, however.

Locally, John Dunkleburger, lodge administrator, said the group works hard to make the community a better place by giving money to many different organizations such as the Little League World Series, hospitals and rebuilding Lion’s Field.

“We help anybody in need,” he said. “When you join a Moose, you’re for supporting the young and protecting the elderly.”

Through their many charity donations of time and money, Charles O’Brien, lodge trustee, said they’re trying to change how they’re perceived.

“It’s not just a place that people drink, and that’s what a lot of people think of it. They don’t understand the community-oriented background that we have,” he said.