By LARRY SHIELDS
SALEM - Change are coming and it's a new day at the Salem Fraternal order of Eagles #316 as President Ron Sanor and Vice President Joe Farago move to implement a turnaround strategy aimed at restoring the club membership to what it was about 10 years ago.
Salem Fraternal Order of Eagles #316 President Ron Sanor, left, and Vice President Joe Farago discuss future plans for the club located at 1884 N. Ellsworth Avenue which they want to lead in a new direction. The club has been located on N. Ellsworth Ave. since the early 1900s. (Salem News photo by Larry Shields)
"We're trying to get some energy back in the place," Farago said, noting current membership, which is growing, stands at about 200.
That's down from a peak of 1,300 before what Sanor called "some bad decisions by some of the (previous) officers were made." He added, "There were other factors" contributing to the slide.
People said it was too far, the smoking ban, worry about OVIs. "They were basically looking for excuses to quit," Farago said, adding rumors also took hold about internal matters that went awry.
The Eagles have occupied the building at 1884 N. Ellsworth Ave. since the early 1990s after moving from E. State St. when it was next to the Mason's building.
Both Sanor and Farago are longtime members and want to see the club thrive.
"The last two years, things have really improved. Last year we had a membership increase of over 40," said Sanor.
It's continued this year, Farago said, explaining they're looking to partner with the Arby's Cruisin' Crew with some cruise-ins and "do other things."
Sanor noted the new Eagles' motto is "People Helping People"
"We want to reach out to the community and let it know we're still here. We can't grow unless they're aware," he said. "We want to be recognized for what we contribute here. We're looking at supporting local charities. We would like to get involved."
The club operates with a women's auxiliary which Sanor said attributes its survival too.
"I don't know how the clubs ever operate without women," Sanor noted. "The auxiliary has been completely involved - Christmas, Halloween, Easter - all the parties and back-to-school. They do an awful lot out here and man the kitchen on band nights."
They have cut back on bands because of the cost, but they still have band nights.
Plans call for just generating ideas to get involved and Sanor said they're looking at starting a newsletter "to inform people."
The club has a Facebook page listed under "Eagles Fraternal Order" and have discussed using it more.
"We would like to invite old members back, Farago said. "We're adding new members and heading in a new direction."
"Right now everything is pretty much in discussion, golf outings, benefit dinners, poker runs," Sanor added. "We have a lot of things, we probably won't get them done this year."
Bingo? Maybe. Local bands, yes.
"Local bands bring in people," Farago said. "We have some irons in the fire, and would like to get something going. We have to push the right buttons.
"We're a family-type club," Sanor said, adding that the current trustees are "all good people, working for a living and all going in the same direction."
"Everyone's on the same page," Farago said. Sanor re-emphasized they are doing what they can to make the club grow.
Both belong to other clubs and insisted their wives prefer going to the Eagles.
"We're trying to put a new face on it," Sanor said. "We're getting a lot women joining the Aerie now."
Applications are available at the club and applicants need two members to sponsor them and there is a $10 initiation fee. Annual dues are $30 for men and $20 for women. The board meets twice a month and memberships pass through a first reading and them an interview committee.
The Fraternal Order of Eagles was found in 1898 and has a number of national charities it backs including the Diabetes Foundation Research Center, the Max Baer Heart Fund, Jimmy Durante Childrens Fund, and locally the D.D. Dunlap Kidney Fund and Art Ehrman Cancer Fund along with several others.
At the national level, the Eagles also sponsor "Operation Eagle" sending goods to troops overseas, helping teach patriotism to local school children and holding an art contest for children in third through sixth-grades.
It also supports a memorial fund for police, firefighters, EMTs and active military personnel.
It has more than 800,000 members nationally with more than 1,500 local clubs.
For more information, call 330-337-8053.