Ever since the Ponoka Moose Chapter 1633 received its charter in February 1951, the group has brought benefits to the community.
Indeed, the Moose have been the naming sponsor of Ponoka Minor Hockey’s bantam Moose team for as long as anyone can remember, explained Gerald Stebner a trustee who has been with the organization for quite some time now.
He says that while the Moose are considered a fraternity, it’s always been about family and family orientated programming. “Our big thing was curling. We did family curling.”
“In the summer time we had family picnics,” said Stebner.
“They had lots of things going for the family back then.”
The Moose Lodge building, located just south of Ponoka on Highway 2A is ideal for family events with its 40-acres of land, hall and ball diamonds.
While the organization has slowed down membership-wise — in the ’80s Stebner estimates there were over 300 members — the group continues to bring donations and benefits to the community. Most recently the Ponoka chapter helped sponsor a Ponoka Elementary School Grade 6 camp as well as a Ponoka youth was sent on a leadership trip to the United States.
If there is a gap in sponsorship or support for kids’ needs then Ponoka’s chapter will step in to help out.
Currently the Ponoka Moose host suppers and dances but also rent out the hall to weddings or other events.
As for the organization, there is a place called Mooseheart, a 1,000-acre campus 38 miles west of Chicago, that is a home for kids in need from infancy right into their high school years.
“Moose will take them and put them through their whole education. It doesn’t cost them anything and they have housing and they put them through school and however far they want to go,” said Stebner.
Along with Mooseheart is Moose Haven Lodge in Florida.
“If a senior doesn’t really have the funds to take care of themselves they can go to Moose Haven and Moose look after them for the rest of their life,” explained Stebner.
For him, being a Moose is all about being part of a family. “We strive to do things as a family.”
The Moose Hall used to be located just on 50 Street across from the old bingo hall (now Shoppers Drug Mart) before the group sold it to the Ponoka Air Cadets.
From there the Moose then moved to their current location south of town. Financially the group has been fiscally responsible with the land south of town fully owned now by the Ponoka Moose.
It’s also become a haven for different community organizations like the Ponoka Radio Control Flyers Association. As for weddings, the location has been ideal for that, and for family camping.
His biggest hope is to see the Ponoka chapter continue as well as bring benefits to the community considering its smaller membership in recent years.
“We’re a private organization but we’re always looking for new members…and new ideas to keep growing. That’s the big thing right now, said Stebner. “Because so many of our members are elderly right now.”