Last Sunday afternoon, Eagles Aerie #4181 in Hesperia hosted a very special guest Grand Worthy President Mike Lagervall, the Fraternal Order of Eagles national leader.


"It helps inspire our membership," State President Larry Lavender, a Hesperia resident who calls #4181 his FOE home base, said of the special visit. "It's a way to just have a little fun and raise a lot of money for charities."


While local Eagles members are accustomed to sharing good cheer over a drink, they are also in the habit of donating money to worthy causes. On Sunday they did both and presented Lagervall with a donation toward the construction of his pet project a $25 million diabetes research center to be built at the University of Iowa.


And the need for diabetes research hits home for Lavender. Recently he lost a family member to the disease.


"My project was going to be the City of Hope, but then we lost my brother-in-law," Lavender said. "He died at 38. He was only diagnosed three years earlier. It hit him hard and fast."


The visit in Hesperia was just one of a number of stops for Lagervall, a resident of Washington who collects vintage cars in his spare time. His tour began in early February in Seattle. Then he trekked to Florida, Iowa, Arkansas, Alabama, Kentucky, Chicago, Los Angeles and other area FOE aeries, including Barstow #3637. Lagervall will continue in Oklahoma, Minnesota, Oregon and Nevada.


Lavender, a retired firefighter, also has been on the Eagles leadership fast-track. He was president of the local aerie for three terms before being asked to lead the district. Afterward, he was voted president of Sire, which is a group of past local presidents. He was elected state president last year.


"Every president has a theme. My theme is 'Making a Difference Together.'"


Being a member of the Fraternal Order of Eagles is both fun and fulfilling, according to Lavender.


"You can raise funds for charities and have fun doing it," Lavender said. "That's what makes it so nice."