Braxton Citizens' News, Community

WV Moose holds mid-year conference at Flatwoods

By Fernando Rodriguez

I had the pleasure and privilege to attend the West Virginia Moose Association Mid-Year Conference 2024, held at the Days Inn & Suites in Flatwoods, March 14-17, 2024. It was a fantastic opportunity for me to learn a bit about the inner workings of the Moose organization. Yes, the Moose holds Bingo nights. They also hold fundraising dinners, Karaoke, Dances, Egg Hunts, Raffles & Drawings, Music Entertainment, Christmas events, and so many other fundraising events, all aimed at benefiting an extensive list of mostly local organizations and Moose Charities. The Sutton Moose Lodge 825 donated more than $250,000 during the years 2021-2022. Last year, 2023, the Sutton Moose Lodge 825 donated more than $100,000 to organizations which included BCHS Sports Teams, Band, and PBIS, Braxton County Elementary School, Braxton Healthcare Center, Town of Sutton Events, Sutton Library, Animal Shelter, Scholarships, and many more, over 60 different organizations total.

The Mid-Year Conference is a multi-purpose event led by the Officers of the West Virginia Moose Association, where members of the Chapters and Lodges of the five districts that divide the state of West Virginia attend to share their progress and to learn from the many briefings, reports, workshops, video presentations, and remarks and comments from different representatives of the WVMA.

The subjects and topics covered during the Conference included Safety Briefings by Jr. Past President Eugene Huffman, Report of the Credentials Chairman by Marc Miller, How to get the most out of your raffle account, by CEO Scott Hart, Lodge Election Workshop, by Territory Manager Chris Roberson, Membership Workshop and Production and Retention report by Membership Chairman Bonita Belcher, Scholarship Report by Jordan Gehring, Mooseheart/Moosehaven Report and Video Presentation, and many more.

As I mingled with the members attending the Conference, I felt as though I was in the middle of a large family gathering. The Conference Hall vibrated with enthusiasm, warmth, seriousness, and feelings of pride and togetherness. It really felt as though everyone wanted to be at this Conference, not merely complying with membership attendance requirements. Everyone was sociable and eager to share facts and knowledge about Moose accomplishments. It was a feeling of individuals eager to give and to help, with a passion to bring joy and love to all.

Thursday, the first day of the Conference, was dedicated mainly to registration and a 6-hour training class of the Women of the Moose, led by Mooseheart/Moosehaven Admissions and Trainer Michele Dudley. WOTM, according to, was established in 1913 to “work in harmony with the members of the Moose Fraternity to provide a helping hand to those in need. “The Women of the Moose provides social, educational and community service opportunities to its members, as well as sporting events and activities geared toward the entire family.” The members of WOTM dedicate countless volunteer hours each year to over 1,400 Chapters across the U. S. and Canada. “The Women of the Moose is one of the largest contributors to the support and maintenance of Mooseheart Child City and School and Moosehaven Retirement care facility. On an annual basis, the Women of the Moose throughout the fraternity donate more than one million dollars to support programs and activities at these two campuses.”

WVMA President Kevin Reedy called to order the first session on Friday, as well as Friday’s second session, Saturday’s sessions 3 and 4, and Saturday’s evening session, which included a banquet, awards, recognition, drawings, final remarks from various members, and closing prayer by Chaplain Robert Ellifritz, who also did the Invocation at the first session on Friday.

Following President Reedy’s Call to Order, a Roll Call of Lodges was performed, where District Presidents call on the Lodges in their District and share the number of attendees from each Lodge. The majority of Districts declared one hundred percent attendance from their respective Lodges. Many long tables stacked with different items were set up at the back of the hall for an ongoing Silent Auction. The winners were announced at the end of session four on Saturday. In addition, drawings for one of the beautiful baskets made by Betty Kesling were held at the end of sessions 1 through 4, as well as an attendance and a 50/50 drawing, orchestrated by WVMA Executive Board Secretary Dickey Foster. Dickey was honored by his over forty years as a member of the Moose by receiving a Lifetime Award.

As stated previously, the Moose contributes to many local organizations and causes, however, there are also a number of Moose Charities within the Moose Organization which include the Donors Circle, the Fraternal Unit Endowment, Moosehaven AAA, Moosehaven City of Contentment, Mooseheart Boosters, Mooseheart Child City & School, League of Guardians, the James J. Davis Society, (Davis joined the Loyal Order of Moose in 1906 as its 247th member and staged a successful reorganization. He became the Director-General and took the Order internationally to Bermuda, Britain and Canada. He was instrumental as a leader in building Mooseheart, the fraternity’s “Child City.”) the M & M Club, the Defending Circle Society, and Veteran’s walk.

I have to share information on two Moose projects that are true labors of love, the Mooseheart Child City and School and Moosehaven, The City of Contentment.

Mooseheart is a residential childcare facility, located on 1,000-acre campus 38 miles west of Chicago. The Child City is a home for children and teens in need, from infancy through high school. Dedicated in July 1913 by the Moose fraternal organization, Mooseheart cares for youth whose families are unable, for a wide variety of reasons, to care for them. Children live in one of thirty residences designed like a spacious single-family home. Each residence is home for six to twelve children. The heart of the program is Family Teachers providing a consistent, systematic method of care, with emphasis on social-skills development skills essential for success in later life.

Moosehaven is a private membership retirement community located on the banks of the St Johns River, in the heart of Orange Park, Florida. With a full range of programs and services, Moosehaven provides seniors 65 and older with a comfortable and secure retirement option. Residents enjoy the benefits of social interaction and support services within a residential community that has served members of The Moose since 1922.

There’s much more to the Loyal Order of Moose than there’s space available to write here. I can honestly say that I have not found a more resolute and compassionate charitable organization than the Moose. Look at more information in the following sites: (WOTM)