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Elks honour Mike Donahue

mike donahue
Mike Donahue receives his Elks Club 50-year membership pin from Michael Dyck.

Mike Donahue was honoured last month for half a century of service with a local organization.

Fort Macleod Elks Club presented Donahue with a 50-year membership pin.

Donahue recalled getting his start with the organization in 1970.

“Some of the guys from Granum invited me to join,” Donahue said.

At that time, Donahue was living on the family farm near Granum, so it made sense to belong to the Granum Elks.

Later, when Mike and his wife Audrey moved their family to Fort Macleod, where they operated Fort View Confectionary, it made sense to shift his allegiances to the Fort Macleod Elks.

Donahue would often have to miss the Elks regular meetings because he was working at the store, but after closing would make his way next door to the community hall to join in the card games.

The Elks Club has been a part of life in Fort Macleod since 1926, staging fund-raisers to put money back into the community.

“The club has made a big difference in the town,” Donahue said.

Donahue recalls big dances hosted by the Elks at the community hall they built in 1952, along with other fund-raisers.

“I helped out where I could,” said Donahue, who served for a time as Exalted Ruler.

Like many service clubs in modern times, however, the Elks saw their membership dwindle.

“We just about folded,” Donahue said of a period several years ago. “There was only three of us going to meetings.”

A last-ditch appeal which included a letter to the editor of The Macleod Gazette, turned things around.

People in the community became concerned when they learned that if the Elks Club went away, so would the $100,000 it puts into the community every decade.

“We got quite a few members then and they’re the ones who are keeping it going now,” Donahue said.

The Elks have long been a driving force behind the annual Community Halloween Party at the hall.

The Elks also stage a gaming night every year as a fund-raiser, and also volunteer at a city casino to generate more money.

That cash is put back into Fort Macleod through donations to such causes as youth sports organizations, the W.A. Day school gym, Kids First Family Centre, the spray park and playgrounds.

Mike Donahue enjoys the fellowship of the Elks Club and helps out when he is able. He has no plans to stop.

“I think I’ll keep paying my membership dues for a few years,” he said with a laugh.

Anyone interested in joining the Elks Club can contact president Hank Van Hierden at 403-308-1737.

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