“I’m really proud of what we’ve done here. We gave more than $34,000 to local charities just last year.”
— Dave McDermott, chaplain and former president of FOE Aerie 871
The sign outside simply reads “F.O.E.” It is easy to miss when traveling along Cameron Street in the middle of Old Town. But for 110 years, members of Aerie 871 of the Fraternal Order of the Eagles have gathered here in friendship, fellowship and to reach out to those in need in the community.
“We have everyone from all walks of life here,” said Dave McDermott, F.O.E. chaplain and former president of the local Aerie. “Policeman, lawyers, mechanics — it’s what makes us unique.”
Founded in 1898, the national organization has more than 1,600 locations throughout the U.S. and Canada and raises $10 million annually for various charities. In 2014, a $25 million pledge to the University of Iowa to fund the Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center was completed.
In Alexandria, Aerie 871 raises tens of thousands of dollars each year for local charities through special events and its legendary bi-monthly steak nights.
“I’m really proud of what we’ve done here,” McDermott said. “We gave more than $34,000 to local charities just last year.”
Since its inception, the F.O.E. has played a key role in the creation of Mother’s Day, Social Security and Medicare with a membership that has included seven former U.S. presidents.
Locally, Aerie 871 boasts more than 800 members and raises funds for organizations like Wounded Warriors, Fisher House and Special Olympics. The Auxiliary just completed its yearly school supplies drive for local children in need.
“We’re able to raise a lot of money for charity and have a wonderful time doing it,” said McDermott, who has been a member for more than 24 years. “It’s a great way to meet so many new people and do some good for the community at the same time.”
While membership has expanded in the last 5-6 years, McDermott said it can still be a challenge to get people to appreciate the value of volunteering.
“It’s harder in the D.C. area since everyone is so busy,” McDermott said. “I wish someone could tell the young people especially how important it is to give back. That’s what makes this town so special — the bonds and feeling of responsibility for one another.”
Potential new members must be sponsored by two existing members of the Aerie. McDermott said an Open House for those interested in membership is planned for early next year.
“We offer a lot of opportunities for anyone looking to meet new people and do some good at the same time,” McDermott said. “We really are a family here and if a member or someone in the community needs help, we step forward.”
For more information, visit www.FOE871.com.