BELLOWS FALLS, Vt. – Since May 1, Aime Theroux has taken over as the new administrator at the Loyal Order of the Moose Family Center Lodge 527 in Bellows Falls. Renovations and new events are happening, but Theroux strongly credits a core of energetic volunteers who have “stepped up to the plate” with most of the work that is showing results.
Jerry Rogers, a former administrator and currently the junior governor, which corresponds to vice president, says the lodge was established in 1911 moving to its current location and building at the corner of Westminster and Henry streets in the late ‘40s. The lodge had formerly met in the old Opera House and the Newbury building before that.
Theroux says membership has declined radically in recent years from about 450 to around 200 members and includes the Women of the Moose with the traditional organization of all men. But he notes that this decline in membership is a national trend, not just with the Moose, but also with other private clubs and lodges as well. The Bellows Falls lodge, however, is reaching out and keeping up with the times.
Theroux says what makes the Moose distinctive from the others, Theroux says, is that they support Mooseheart, a facility for children in need from infancy through teen age, many sponsored by the individual lodges across the country, near Chicago, and Moosehaven, a large senior community in Orange Park, Fla. Theroux says, “That’s where our money goes.” He added that the children from the New England building at Mooseheart are currently on a tour visiting lodges in New England from Portland, Maine to Burlington having been as close by as Springfield, Vt.
The most noticeable of the renovations are in the building’s large social hall that can hold around 200 attendees, depending on use, for events that are mostly all open to families and the community at-large. Led by the active volunteers, the hall has been repainted and the floor has been waxed. All the technical systems have been upgraded and a bar has been added to the room replacing the old window that used to serve the room from the bar in the social club area. Some of the older tables and chairs have been replaced by new furniture as well.
New and continuing community events have been scheduled with increased frequency. This month there was a successful Big Band Brunch with food and entertainment by locals Allie McGahie and Zac Binney singing songs of the era. On Sept. 8, they will do a similar Chuck Wagon Brunch with country singers. Their popular karaoke, with Theroux running the equipment himself, will be held two times a month, and the Women of the Moose will be holding teen dances once a month. Coming up are “open mic” nights and Paint and Sip Craft Sundays featuring driftwood crafting and painting and painting scenes on old sap buckets.
Theroux stresses that the lodge is always looking for volunteers and new members. Toward this end, they are planning a big Open House for Sept. 21. Grill foods will be served while the band Planned Possum plays in the afternoon, and members will be available to show people around and tell them about the Loyal Order of Moose. In the evening, there will be grinders, and the band Spectrus, that is making a come back, will perform. Theroux says, “Check out our Facebook page and check out our events ‘BF Loyal Order of Moose Family Center’” or email him at Lodge527@mooseunits.org.