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Aiming to Impact

by Shiv Patel Shiv Patel is a 2018 Most Valuable Student Scholar and 2021 Weigel Medical School Scholarship recipient. He recently graduated from Northwestern University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in data science. He now attends medical school at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. I recently returned from the Elks Scholar Service Trip in Chicago, where I had the opportunity to engage in community service alongside nine other Elks scholars. While I had taken part in several other service experiences in the past, including a past Elks Scholar Service Trip, my time on this trip was unparalleled. Since being awarded the Most Valuable Student Scholarship during my senior year of high school, I have recognized the Elks as an organization dedicated to service. Shortly after receiving the scholarship, I had the opportunity to take part in the Elks 150 for 150 weekend in San Antonio, Texas. There, I was constantly engaged in dialogue abou
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Making a Difference from a Distance

by Lydia Smeltz, 2017 Legacy Scholar Last year, I had the opportunity to work with Raleigh, N.C., Lodge No. 735 on their USO Holiday Snack Bag Project as part of the 2019 Cornerstone Grant . The Raleigh Elks have worked with the USO to provide snack bags for troops traveling through the Raleigh-Durham (RDU) airport during the holidays for the past five years.  By organizing this event, the Raleigh Elks support the service men and women during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. I formed relationships with the Raleigh Elks, who have become a second family to me over the past four years. When I reached out to them to express my interest in applying for the 2020 Cornerstone Grant and assisting with this event for a second year, they were overjoyed. They explained that funding was down due to COVID and that the grant would alleviate a financial burden while allowing us to serve our community. Thanks to the Cornerstone Grant, we were able to continue this tradition for both holida

Staying Connected During COVID-19

 by Maryann Dernlan, 2011 Legacy Scholar and former ENF staff member As a member of Metuchen, N.J., Lodge No. 1914, a 2011 Legacy Scholar, and a former Elks National Foundation staff member, I thought all of my new Elkdom experiences were in the books. From volunteering with my parents at their Elks Lodges while growing up, to running Elks Scholar Service Trips and attending National Conventions, I have a plethora of Elks experiences. But COVID-19 brought a new opportunity to reconnect with Elkdom. My mom, who has been the Scholarship Coordinator at the Metuchen Lodge for many years, asked me if I’d like to join the Scholarship Committee this year. In a “normal,” non-COVID time, this probably wouldn’t have seemed like an option—typically, she would try to get those who attend meetings in person and volunteer in person to join the committee. She has struggled to get new volunteers in recent years and has done the judging on her own.  However, with the new-and-improved online jud

Scary Spooky Scholars

 by Grace Roebuck, Elks Scholar Fellow  Grace at the 2016 MVS Leadership Weekend You know, when I first heard about the Elks Lodge, I just thought it was a restaurant in my town with a really bopping bingo night. Little did I know, bingo nights like those would soon be the reason I attended the college of my dreams debt-free and recently accepted a dream job, even after graduating into a pandemic-ravaged world. While I’ve enjoyed every experience I’ve had with my Elks Family, I have to say my love for the Elks really boils down to the scholars I’ve met and connected with throughout the years. In my new role as the Elks Scholar Fellow, I’m tasked with figuring out how to adapt to our new virtual world, which is sadly devoid of scholar service trips. In their place, thanks to the help of our scholars and the ENF, I’ve started to organize events for our Elks scholars to convene and have fun together. In my favorite event so far, our Spooky Scholar Halloween Party, we had scholars j

What Steph Curry Said

by Makenna Cannon Youth Programs Coordinator, Elks National Foundation Over the past three months, I’ve attended happy hours, birthday parties, game nights, and house warmings, all from the comfort of my couch. Virtual get-togethers have become the new normal. We’re searching for ways to spend time together while not actually being together. To stay connected, we’ve gotten creative. A few weeks back, I attended my first virtual conference hosted by the Jr. NBA. I livestreamed discussions and speakers by Golden State Warriors point guard Steph Curry and Dr. Vivek Murthy, a former U.S. Surgeon General. Topics ranged from team building to coaching strategy, but the central theme that carried through was engagement: How do we stay engaged and connected with teammates, friends and family? And, why is it important to do so? For All-Star Steph Curry, engagement looks like virtual all-team workouts twice a week, plus checking in with teammates on FaceTime. Returning to the gam

An Instinct for Caring

by Claire Schnucker Donor Services Coordinator, Elks National Foundation Back in November, I wrote these two sentences:             “I know for certain that the Elks will continue to care about communities.”                         “Hope is a perfect impetus for success.” They were written for a blog post about my review of our mid-year numbers. The ENF closed the 2019-20 fiscal year on March 31 st . Next week, I will present our final numbers for last year. I work in the Donor Services department. We process every donation to the ENF. By mid-March, all of us were working from home. Just like organizations across the nation, the ENF had to completely rethink processes that had been used for decades. In times of great upheaval, everyone has to do their part to listen, reinvent and collaborate. In March, the ENF was able to do just that. Claire presents her analysis of the ENF's mid-year numbers to fellow staff members . Normally when I sit down to look

Are We Having Fun Yet?

by Jim O'Kelley Director, Elks National Foundation (This is the fifth in a series of posts about the need for Lodges to stay relevant during this time of isolation.  To find all posts in the series, click here:  #StaySafeBeRelevant .) Many of us have been mostly staying at home for two months now, which begs the question, “Are we having fun yet?” In answering that question, I can’t speak for everyone, but after crashing one of their virtual happy hours, I can speak confidently for the folks at Ferndale, Michigan, Lodge No. 1588. That crew is having a ball. Ferndale is a suburb of about 20,000 people, just across the Eight Mile from Detroit. A bedroom community in the 1920s and ’30s, Ferndale boomed along with the auto industry in the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s. In fact, today, it still derives its nickname from a catchy 1960s advertising campaign that caught: Fashionable Ferndale. Sarah Ignash leads the T-Rex Walking Club to fame, if not fortune. As the economy wen

Hold My Beer

by Jim O'Kelley Director, Elks National Foundation (This is the fourth in a series of posts about the need for Lodges to stay relevant during this time of isolation. To find all posts in the series, click here: #StaySafeBeRelevant .) Back in 2008, during the sleepy off-season in Charlevoix, a small northern Michigan resort town nestled among three lakes, six locals were watching the paint peel at their favorite watering hole when one of them had an epiphany. Now, as the popular meme attests, bar stools aren’t the best breeding grounds for big ideas, but every rule has its exception. So, Chris Jones set down his drink and declared, “We should start an Elks Lodge.” His friends had a lot of questions, but they were enthusiastic about the idea. None of them knew what they were getting into. It's good to have goals. Rochelle Roerig tries to sell enough Queen of Hearts tickets to stack higher than her trusty flask. “We knew nothing,” reminisces Past Exalted

Family is Forever

by Jim O'Kelley Director, Elks National Foundation (This is the third in a series of posts about the need for Lodges to stay relevant during this time of isolation. Whereas the first two posts — which are here  and here — focused on what Lodges are doing, this one is about what Lodges can do . To find all posts in the series, click here: #StaySafeBeRelevant .) In the department of silver linings, the pandemic has given us a reason to dust off those high school graduation photos. Alas, I can’t find mine, but that’s okay, because there’s an even better way to support this year’s seniors. If you want to do something for them—particularly our new Elks scholars—put them to work. Not work work. I mean the kind of work that Elks do. “Our scholars are service-minded,” says Colleen Conrad, who manages the ENF’s scholarships department. “In this time of online classes and disrupted schedules, I know many are looking for a tangible way to give back, and they have more time t

See you at the Julebukking

by Jim O'Kelley Director, Elks National Foundation (Earlier this week, I started a series of posts on the need for Lodges to stay relevant during this time of isolation. This is the second post in the series—technically, the series became a series when I posted this. Anyway, read the first post here . To find all posts in the series, click here: #StaySafeBeRelevant .) Humans have a fundamental need to connect. Scientists, psychologists, therapists, they’ll all tell you the same thing. Our culture may celebrate individualism, but we are wired to be around other people. How else can you explain the existence of organizations like the Elks? It’s certainly not the dated titles or the jewels of office that go along with them. It’s not the many meetings that demand so much of our time if we want to rise through the ranks. It’s not even the desire to serve our communities. The Elks have been around for 152 years because people need other people in our lives. Local Lodges s

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