Not many people know what the Moose is, Mark Hume said.
The Johnsburg resident is a member of the McHenry Moose Lodge 691 and the recipient of its highest honor, the Pilgrim Degree of Merit.
He joined the Moose and a number of other area organizations after he got out of the U.S. Army in 1994. He is also a mail carrier in Lake Forest.
The Moose is an international organization that focuses on caring for children and seniors. It operates Mooseheart, a residential child care center and school in Batavia, and Moosehaven, a retirement community in Orange Park, Fla.
Hume recently spoke to reporter Emily Coleman about his volunteer work and the Moose.
Coleman: What is it about the Moose that you like?
Hume: I like the people because the people are wonderful people, and I also like what Mooseheart stands for. It’s for taking care of kids from lost and broken homes. You could say it’s like turning – what do they say? – tragedies into triumphs.
Coleman: Is there anything you think people should know about the Moose? Anything people usually get wrong?
Hume: A lot of people don’t know what the Moose is. It’s very funny. It’s kind of amusing. Some people think, ‘Well, is it a veterans organization?’ ... We do a lot of thing in the community. We’re kind of a secret. We shouldn’t be, but we are.
It’s just a great organization. There’s the Elks and the Eagles, but this one, you can actually go down to Mooseheart and see where your money’s going. If you ever go down to the campus, you’ll go, ‘Wow.’
I tell anybody who ever joined, once you’ve been down there, you’ll never let your dues go again because you get to meet the kids, and if you get a chance, they’ll take you around, show you campus. Beautiful facility.
Coleman: Can you tell me about a time when you felt like you were really making a difference?
Hume: I get an opportunity to bring kids up here for Thanksgiving, and they get to have a nice meal. They get to do karaoke and play games and stuff like that.
Coleman: What’s your role?
Hume: I’m the organizer.
We’ve got 50 sailors coming, and we’ve got 20 to 25 kids from Mooseheart with their house parents and that. We take them to the theater for a movie, get a group picture, and bring them back here for lunch, for turkey.
We cook up about 250 pounds of turkey. We feed all the people that come in to help. We get about 150 people here total.
It takes a lot of organizing. It really does. Sometimes I want to pull out all my hair because it gets down to the crunch. But once it’s all over and done with, you just got that good feeling that you’ve done something good for somebody.
Coleman: What do you enjoy about working with the kids?
Hume: Just watching the smiles on their faces. You don’t see them all the time, but you get a chance to see them year after year. When they get to do something, they’re just smiles from ear to ear. It just gives you that real good warm feeling.
Coleman: What did you do to get the Pilgrim Degree of Merit?
Hume: It’s something that you earn over years. You get it from doing community service, helping your lodge, helping in other organizations like the veteran organizations I belong to, running a lot of functions to help the lodge keep money and raise funds for Mooseheart.
Coleman: What was your reaction when you got it?
Hume: I was dumbfounded. I was just shocked. I was just in awe. [It’s] something you always try to get.
The Hume lowdown
Family? Three sons – Donovan Bartlett of Ottawa, and Joe Hume and Spencer Fahlbeck of Clinton, Iowa – and eight grandchildren, from 2 to 21 years old.
Involved with? McHenry Moose Lodge, American Legion, Polish Legion of American Veterans, AmVets, and the Eagles.
Favorite Moose event? “Thanksgiving with the sailors and the kids from Mooseheart because it’s just amazing how people come together and make it good for some of these kids who are going overseas and are still in boot camp. Being a veteran, I’m kind of partial to that.”