Cunningham chosen as State Auxiliary President

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Robin Cunningham of Guttenberg was sworn in as Iowa State Auxiliary President for the Fraternal Order of Eagles (F.O.E.) on June 20. (Photo submitted)

By Caroline Rosacker

The Fraternal Order of Eagles (F.O.E.) is an international non-profit organization that unites fraternally in the spirit of liberty, truth, justice, and equality. It is on a mission to make human life more desirable by lessening its ills, and by promoting peace, prosperity, gladness and hope.

The group was established in February 1898 by six theatre owners who gathered in a Seattle shipyard to discuss a musicians' strike. After addressing the matter, they agreed to "bury the hatchet" and form "The Order of Good Things." As numbers increased, members selected the Bald Eagle as the official emblem and changed the name to "The Fraternal Order of Eagles." The women's auxiliary traces its roots back to 1927.

Robin Cunningham

F.O.E. State President

Robin Cunningham has been a member of The Fraternal Order of Eagles in Guttenberg for the past 33 years. She is employed as a Project Readiness Specialist with Guttenberg Industries, Garnavillo, for the past 38 years. 

Cunningham has served as an officer in the Guttenberg F.O.E. since 1988. She became a State Officer in 2011. She was sworn in as F.O.E. State President on June 20. She is the first woman in Guttenberg to hold this position. 

Cunningham shared her inspiration for becoming a member. She said, "I really don't know. I never went there. My dad signed me up, so I just happened to be down there when the ladies were going to meet. So I went to the meeting, and there happened to be a couple of ladies there that were from Cedar Rapids, and we got talking about the district meetings. So I told them I would try to attend one of those meetings. So here I am  – 33 years later and still going."

Special Olympics State Charity

The Guttenberg F.O.E. has approximately 66 women and 115 men as members. The charitable organization participates in many fund-raising opportunities. "There are around 14 different charities that the Eagles raise money for, but every year the lady and man that are going in as State Presidents select a special charity as the State charity. This year Jim Zimmbauch of Manchester and myself have chosen Special Olympics Iowa. We raise money for the charity along with the other 14. We are also able to help at their function if we wish to." 

Travel opportunities

Travel across Iowa has been an important part of Cunningham's experience. "We hold local meetings here in Guttenberg, then the second weekend in January we meet in Des Monies. There is also a West Central Regional  meeting in our district. Guttenberg is in the Hawkeye District which includes Guttenberg, Manchester, Waterloo, Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids, Monticello and Anamosa. These meetings rotate and are on the third Sunday of the month." She continued, "Then the next step up are the zone meetings, which are held on the last weekend of October. This year the meeting will be held on the western side of the state, and another one on the last weekend in March on the eastern side of the state." 

A mid-winter board meeting held in September involving Nebraska and Iowa, and a MINK conference held in April where state officers gather from Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas and the Dakotas create additional travel opportunities .

Fund-raising efforts

"At all the different meetings we learn things on how other states are raising money and working to get more members. One big project that was completed a couple of years ago was the Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center that is located in Iowa City. This is a building for research on a cure for diabetes. The Eagles gave 5 million dollars for this to happen," she noted.

The local Eagles Club also donates to local causes.Cunningham shared, "Guttenberg's Club has raffles throughout the year; we have given money or a gift card to families that have to drive to Dubuque, Iowa City, LaCrosse and Madison for doctor appointments. We also do a big Christmas raffle, and we split all the profit between the Clayton County Food Shelf and the other half goes to the Shepherd of the Hills. We have had some dinners and a breakfast but didn't get anybody to come."

Small club with a big heart

"For being one of the smallest clubs in the state it's surprising how much Guttenberg does do. This year we will be holding our State Charity Night on Oct. 10 starting with a live auction around 3 p.m. We will have our sandwich menu that day also, and maybe more stuff. So please come down and help raise money for Iowa Special Olympics," she encouraged. 

Cunningham concluded with these sentiments, "A lot of people say they have never heard of the Eagles. I wish that was not true, because they do so much for charities it's unbelievable. They also had a part in getting Social Security going and making Mother's Day a national holiday."

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