Members of the Ponoka Moose Lodge 1633 are always looking for new ways to connect with and support the local community.
“We are always thinking of ideas of how we can raise some money to do projects,” said Rory Rust, the organization’s administrator.
Most recently, the Moose held a meat draw. “It’s always a popular thing to sell tickets for. So we ran it, and managed to make $4,000 on that,” he said.
This year’s winners of the meat draw were Dr. Greg Edwards, and Keith and Karen Kjenner.
A portion of the proceeds will go to Moose Hall maintenance and repairs, and the other portion will be donated to various community causes, he said. The Moose have supported any number of community charities and agencies over the years from Big Brothers and Big Sisters to the local food bank.
“We try to stay as local as we can as well,” he said, adding the Moose has been in operation for several decades. There aren’t a whole lot of Moose lodges around these days compared to past years.
“The ones in the cities seem to have the hardest time surviving,” he said. But locally, it’s a brighter scenario.
“We are holding our own,” he said, adding that there are officially 109 members with the Ponoka Lodge.
The local hall was built in the late 1970s by Tony Vold, and has been the location for all kinds of community events over the years.
In the early days, Rust said it was used as a dance hall. Next, it was purchased by a local church.
In the mid-1980s, the Moose bought it and have used it as their base ever since.
Meanwhile, Rust said the organization offers a great opportunity to make new friends and build connections with others.
“Basically, our goal is to have fun while supporting the community,” he explained. “It’s kind of driven by what the membership wants to do.”
Another way they connect with folks and keep the local lodge strong is by partnering with other organizations who use their space, like the Ponoka RC Flyers for one.
“This hall sits on 40 acres of land. So about 25 years ago, the local flying club needed an airstrip. And the Moose had some land.”
A kind of partnership was formed — the RC Flying Club in effect joined the Moose Lodge.
More recently, a local archery group contacted the Moose to inquire about space in the basement to hold their gatherings.
They also joined the Moose organization as members and are now able to access the space conveniently on a regular basis.
“Now, we have an archery club that uses the basement every Monday night. And they are also members of the Moose.”
Upstairs, a local dance group meets for much of the year, too.
Beyond that, the hall is available for everything from wedding receptions to family reunions.
This year, those kinds of events started on the second week of June and will run right on through to November, he said.
“In the peak time — during summer — there is a function every single weekend,” he said.
For Rust, being a Moose member is also something of a family thing – his father became a member of the local lodge in 1968.
Rust himself originally joined in the early 80s for a time. Some years went by and he was involved in other pursuits, and then he again signed on officially on Nov. 4, 2013.
“It’s like a family. It’s also a chance to work with people. It feels good to give back and work with others for a common goal.”
For more about Ponoka Lodge 1633, call 403-783-4700.