Coyotes, scorpions and rattlesnakes are commonplace in Maricopa. It’s time to add moose to the list of local fauna.
Nearly 200 Maricopans were admitted to Moose International, a service group founded in Kentucky in 1888, during a momentous ceremony in downtown Phoenix on Saturday.
The nonprofit elected Maricopans Henry Fuentes, Donna Ciraolo and Chuck Ciraolo as president, vice president and treasurer.
Maricopa Moose, a community organization dedicated to fostering camaraderie and serving the local community, is now officially Moose Service Center No. 2730.
The husband-wife duo Julie and Stan Hayes were instrumental figures in the organization’s growth.
“It was a great turnout,” Stan Hayes said. “We got to share our mission with our members that didn’t know the whole story.”
As tenured members of Moose International from Lodge No. 6 in Crawfordsville, Ind., the couple moved to Maricopa last year and began seeking members early this year.
The local outfit began with only seven members in March, but membership quickly took off.
“We’re still constantly looking for members,” Stan Hayes said. “Before, we were constantly recruiting. Now, we’re extending invitations to find a sponsor.”
It costs $20 to apply and $50 for annual dues if accepted.
The group meets every other week at Northern Lights Therapy on John Wayne Parkway near Smith Enke Road to discuss upcoming events, community service opportunities and plans to find a “Moose lodge.”
Maricopa Moose intends to apply for a food, liquor and gaming license in hopes of working toward finding its forever home.
To qualify as a lodge, the group needed at least 100 members. But it’s safe to say the Maricopa service center has gone above and beyond, more than doubling the barrier to entry.
“We have the requirements to now become a lodge,” Stan Hayes said. “But we need a building to put ourselves in.”
The local installment is now focused on raising funds to support their endeavors, with donations, raffles and social events.
Maricopa Moose has earned a reputation for its vibrant social activities and a warm environment for members to connect and socialize, members said.
“People were starving for this,” Stan Hayes said. “We like getting together, socializing and bouncing ideas off each other. This is how we’re going to grow.”
From playing corn hole and enjoying a beer to volunteering at a food bank, Stan Hayes hopes the honorifically antlered bunch will “let their hair down.”
While the journey to become a Moose service center has been remarkable, Stan and Julie Hayes feel their work has only just begun.
“We’ve all become one family,” Julie Hayes said. “Now is the time we need somewhere to put our family.”