Local club tackles fundraising project for Riley's

PLYMOUTH — The Plymouth Eagles Lodge 1900 is hard at work contributing to the year’s state project — raising enough money to buy an ambulance for Riley Hospital for Children.
Since the club’s fiscal year began in June, it has raised $1,800, which is more than half its goal contribution of $3,000. All of the Eagles clubs in Indiana will raise money for a $250,000 ambulance. It’s worth the high price tag, however, according to Plymouth Eagles secretary and president of District 4, Brandon VanVactor, who says the ambulance is equipped for surgery mid-transport.
VanVactor added that fundraisers like this and other local benefits are a part of what the Eagles does in the community.
“People helping people — that’s primarily what our focus is,” said VanVactor.
The club has been active in Plymouth since 1909, making a name for itself by hosting many events to raise money for local individuals and non-profit organizations. A recent benefit drew more than 520 people to the club — all of whom made donations for a friend’s medical needs. Eagles members donate to many local organizations including Heminger House, The Firemen’s Memorial Golf Outing, and the Mayor’s Meth Rehab house.
The club also participates in many national projects such as fulfilling a pledge of $25 million dollars to fund the Diabetes Research Center at the University of Iowa, and establishing the Memorial Foundation for children of deceased members who die while serving their country. The children are able to attend college or vocational school with grants up to $30,000, and receive medical and dental assistance.
VanVactor said that while fraternal clubs in the past few years have seen a dramatic decrease in membership and donations, the Plymouth Eagles has been flourishing. After almost closing in 2009, the addition of several members under age 35 breathed new life into the club. Now, their member base is nearly 500 people, and the club was one of the top in the state for new members this year.
The new younger members have changed the hours and atmosphere of the club, said VanVactor, but longtime members think it’s a good change.
“People who have been members for 50 years still enjoy it,” said VanVactor. “They say it reminds them of how it used to be when they first joined.”
Membership is open to anyone. New members must be sponsored by an existing member and voted in by the club. Dues are $25 for men, and $20 for women, per year. The lodge is located at 404 W. LaPorte St., Plymouth.
The Eagles Ladies also pitch in and have held quilting nights and are planning a Second Chance Prom to help raise funds for the ambulance.
The club recently hired an attorney for representation, as its alcohol license is being reviewed by the state. VanVactor said that despite these issues, it’s “business as usual” at the Eagles.