Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Perfect Fit

By 2015 Most Valuable Student Scholarship Recipient and Elks Scholar Advisory Board Member Jessica Carter

Jessica Carter, 2015 Most Valuable Student scholar and freshmen representative on the Elks Scholar Advisory Board, is giving us a glimpse into life as a college freshman. Join her each month as she blogs about her exciting new challenges and experiences at Northwestern University. 


Four of the seven SAB members in front 
of the Soldiers Memorial in downtown Indy.
I’ve always pictured the Elks National Foundation as a puzzle: a culmination of very different people that seamlessly fit together to create something beautiful. I got a glimpse of the final picture when I had the opportunity to attend the Elks National Convention in early July.

To give you a little background, I was recently selected to be the freshman representative on the Elks Scholar Advisory Board—SAB for short. Every year, the eight members of the SAB meet up at the Elks National Convention to discuss new ways to improve the organization through scholar involvement. This year’s destination: Indianapolis.

The second my plane arrived it was easy to see why Indy was chosen. From the amazing art found on the Pedestrian Bridge, to the Soldiers Memorial, there was so much history, so much beauty. And being a Chicago girl myself, the clean streets and the friendly drivers were a welcomed surprise.


Told you it was a thing!
As I look back, the best times for me were the times spent traveling around the Convention Hall. From circling around to the Georgia booth five times for their free fudge to even making a trip over to the National Pok√©mon Convention—I kid you not, that’s a thing—there was no shortage of excitement. Nevertheless, nothing compared to meeting all of the state representatives and seeing what a difference the Elks are making in the lives of people around them.
   
Their unwavering kindness and generosity made me that much more excited for August. For the first time ever, a remarkable group of Elks scholars will be traveling to Manistique, Michigan for a week of service. Elks Scholar Service Trips, spearheaded by Elks Scholar Fellow Maryann Slater, provide an amazing outlet to for Elks scholars across the country to connect, learn, and serve with other scholars by their side. Not only will we get to visit two Elks Lodges, but we’ll also be given the unparalleled opportunity to make a lasting impact in the name of the Elks.


Hearing how the Elks were making a difference 
within their communities was such an inspiration.
Being at the Elks National Convention made me feel like I was slowly becoming a small piece of that large puzzle, and through our work up in Manistique that final picture is going to be just a little brighter.

Jessica Carter
Elks Scholar Advisory Board Freshman Representative
Northwestern University 

In 2015-16, the Elks National Foundation appropriated $4.16 million to fund the ENF scholarship program, which provides college scholarships, ensuring a bright future for our nation’s youth. As important parts of the Elks family, Elks scholars have many social and service opportunities to connect with the Elks and each other. For more information about our scholarship programs, and for ways Lodges can get involved with Elks scholars, visit www.elks.org/enf/scholars.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Cinema and the Circus Gene

by Jim O'Kelley, Director
Elks National Foundation

My wife likes to say that my family has “the circus gene.” Maybe she’s right. My mom always wanted to be an actress, and my younger sister is one. (Perhaps you’ve seen her in such shows as The New Adventures of Old Christine and Devious Maids.)

My sister, the actress.
As for me, I’ve been known to dazzle karaoke crowds with my powerful rendition of “Wonderwall.” However, mostly I prefer to watch other people perform. Especially in the summer.

One of my favorite ways to beat the heat is to take in a movie. Of course, with two small children, I don’t get to the movies as often as I’d like, nor can I always find two hours to watch one at home.

Sound familiar? Well, guess what? You’re going to love our YouTube channel.

The ENF has been cranking out short films this year—we’ve produced 21 since the Hoop Shoot in April. There are a couple of long-form interviews among them, but most are pretty short—between 2 and 4 minutes. Even the busiest among us can squeeze in a few minutes.

Fair warning, though: You get out of bed to get a drink of water, sit down at the laptop to check your email, decide to watch a short film. One becomes two, soon you’ve watched five, and you’re  wondering why you’re still up.

Me, rocking live band karaoke. (That's an iced tea in my hand.)
Seriously, that’s happened to be me multiple times recently. And I’ve already seen all these films numerous times.

You can lose track of time on our YouTube channel, but you know what? It’s time well spent. We’re delivering good, short stories that are going to make you feel proud that you support our work.

Several feature scholarship recipients. There’s an interview with an Emergency Educational Grant recipient that will break your heart and then fill it with pride. A couple of others feature Legacy Award winners and their sponsors, and you can just see how our scholarship has strengthened the bond between them.

I’m even in a few. The circus gene surfaces in Can Larry Dunk? where I play the straight man. My sister Tricia got most of the acting talent but not all of it.

Jane, future Grand Exalted Ruler.
The Larry video is a fun look at what it means to be a part of a team that works on one of our programs. Our volunteers get more serious treatment, too. Our Hoop Shoot film this year follows four of them through the finals and tells the story of the weekend through their eyes. And the tribute to Jeff Mitchell, the Community Investments Program’s Volunteer of the Year, is fantastic.

My favorite is probably Girls Allowed, and not just because it stars my wife and features a non-speaking cameo by my daughter, Jane.  I like it because it’s important. It will inspire parents to get their daughters involved in the Hoop Shoot. It will encourage female members to volunteer with the program. And it will change the attitudes of people whose opinions of us are as outdated as they think we are.

Just writing about these films makes me want to watch them again. I think I will. You should, too. There are 21 in the queue and more on the way. You don’t want to fall too far behind. There’s only so much time in the day.
 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Why I Joined

By Elks National Foundation Communications Associate Christine Robinson
 
A new class of Elks including six of my co-workers, after our initiation ceremony at Chicago-North Shore, Lodge No. 1316 Pictured with our sponsor Lecturing Knight Sandy Supancic.
Last night I had the unique opportunity to join an organization that I’ve worked closely with for the past year. Since I started working at the Elks National Foundation, I’ve heard about all of the amazing initiatives Lodges are organizing in their own communities. Through my conversations with Elks—in my role in the Donor Services department and now in my role in Communications—I’ve heard many reasons for why people are involved and why they support the Foundation.

My time at the ENF has brought me to an understanding of why some people choose to join the Elks. Charity—one of the four virtues of Elkdom—inspired me to join the Order. For the past year, I’ve seen the Elks through the eyes of the ENF, now I can broaden my understanding. I look forward to learning about the other three virtues, Fidelity, Brotherly Love and Justice.

For more information on the Elks National Foundation please visit www.elks.org/ENF.
Stay tuned for updates from my fellow co-workers to read what inspired them to join!



Communications Associate
Christine Robinson

Monday, June 22, 2015

The ENF is Heading to Indy

By Elks National Foundation Development Manager Kate Keating Edsey
 
All our boxes are packed, we’re ready to go… to the 2015 Elks National Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana!

Convention is a big deal around here. As a national organization, we just don’t get to see ENF volunteers and supporters often enough. However, each July, our staff descends on a host city to meet and greet thousands of Elks. Through hosting special ENF events and representing the Foundation at the booth in the exhibit hall, we get to know our friends of the Foundation and hear what is happening in Lodges across the country. We also get to engage with eager Elks at seminars and workshops, helping Lodges with grants, fundraising and youth programs. Pretty exciting, right?

The road to Indy this year—and for every Elks National Convention—is a long one. Our team starts planning for the next year as soon as we return from a Convention, while our successes and opportunities are fresh in our minds. Then, it’s my job to keep us on track with regular meetings as the master schedule continues to grow, and work closely with the Elks Convention Department staff to manage our presence. All of the Convention planning happens as we work on other tasks and duties, which makes it a challenge for everyone involved.


With just two weeks left, we’re ready to send all of our materials to Indy, while putting the finishing touches on events and presentations. We’ll send about 50 boxes on the Convention truck, with assistance from the Grand Lodge shipping department. We’ll meet those boxes—and hopefully you—at the Indiana Convention Center. Click here for the full ENF Convention Schedule.

Want to learn more about the ENF in Indy? Listen to the latest episode of Midday with the ENF, with me as a special guest!

Kate Keating Edsey
Development Manager

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Maryann Slater—First Week at the ENF

by Elks Scholar Fellow Maryann Slater
 

Hello Elks members and Elks scholars! My name is Maryann Slater, and I joined the Elks National Foundation staff last week as the first Elks Scholar Fellow. I recently graduated from Rutgers University and moved from New Jersey to Chicago at the beginning of the month. My position is a two-year fellowship, and I am in charge of promoting, planning and leading three Elks Scholar Service trips each year. These trips will allow Elks Scholars to travel and serve in a location somewhere in the United States for one week while giving back in the name of the Elks and learning how to become active citizens who are committed to a lifetime of service. Click here to learn more.
It was certainly an exciting first week for me at the Elks National Foundation! I’d like to share with you the top 5 things that I learned during my first week (drumroll please):

1. Don't hesitate to take a leap of faith
Whether it’s moving to a new city, starting a new job, changing your major, or planning that vacation you’ve always wanted to take, there is no time like the present to take a leap of faith and start working toward your goals. After moving far from home to dive into starting a new program, I’ve learned to not ask myself “What could go wrong?” but rather focus on what could go right while learning from and enjoying the journey as it happens.
2. It’s important to learn about all the ENF has to offer
As a member of the Order, as an Elks scholar, and as an ENF donor, I have experienced many of the ENF’s programs. However, I did not fully realize the breadth and depth of many of the programs that we offer until I started my new position. After training with staff throughout the week and learning about our many programs, I have gotten a glimpse into how many different projects are funded by our grants, just how rich the Hoop Shoot’s legacy is, and how constantly evolving the ENF is in an effort to better meet Lodge members’ and communities’ needs. If you’re highly versed in one area of the ENF, take some time to look into its other offerings as well—you will be filled with so much pride as you gain insight into what your donations do for so many different people across America.
3. It’s “pop” not “soda”
As a born-and-raised Jersey Girl, I am still getting used to smiling faces asking me how I’m doing as I walk down the street or enter my apartment building. I’ve also learned that “pop” is another term for soda, well, the only term for soda out here. While the Midwest is certainly a lot different from home, I can honestly say that the transition will be made a lot easier by working with the talented, passionate and welcoming staff here at the Elks National Foundation.
4. Use your talents while appreciating others’
Everyone on staff at the ENF is very talented at what they do. With so many different and highly diverse departments, it is amazing to see how each person brings something new to the table. When the entire staff works together, thousands of lives across the country are changed through Elks programs. This is the exact same dynamic that plays out in each Elks Lodge—each member brings something different to the table, and when members work together they make positive changes in their community as they serve local needs. Never forget to share your talents with those around you!
5. Elks Care, Elks Share
I grew up in an Elks family and have heard this phrase my entire life. I have also seen the generosity of the Elks firsthand in many different settings. And after only one week at the ENF, I have heard so many new stories of this phrase being played out in real life by Elks volunteers, Elks scholars and ENF donors from all over the country. Each individual story of how the ENF’s grants and programs have impacted lives makes me so grateful to work in a place that is having an impact on society through the work of Elks members, ENF staff, and donors just like you!

Maryann Slater
Elks Scholar Fellow


Thursday, June 11, 2015

Freshman No More!


By 2014 Legacy Awards Recipient and Elks Scholar Advisory Board Member Anji Radakrishnan

Anji Radakrishnan, 2014 Legacy scholar and freshmen representative on the Elks Scholar Advisory Board, is giving us a glimpse into life as a college freshmen. Join her each month as she blogs about her exciting new challenges and experiences at Penn State. 


Hello Elks scholars! As the school year winds down for most of us, it is the perfect time to reflect on the past year. We’ve all had our ups and downs this past year, but through it all we’ve taken away lessons to remember.

First, I have to elaborate on a huge highlight of my past semester: the Elks National Hoop Shoot Finals in Springfield, MA. The trip itself was incredible, and we even got to visit the Basketball Hall of Fame. The best part for me, however, was when my parents came to visit me! It was so nice to be able to spend time with my family after being away at college for so long.

A major lesson that I learned this year is to appreciate the people in my life. A few of my closest friends were seniors and graduated this past semester. Even though they will be dearly missed, it’s important to focus more on the happy memories that we’ve created. This picture was taken at the Scholar Awards, when those of us with 4.0 GPAs were awarded medallions. After working tirelessly for months, we were fortunate enough to be able to share that joy with a group of close friends, and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

The most important thing that I learned from this past year is to take an opportunity when it comes to you. When my father heard about the Elks through a coordinator of the Regional Spelling Bee, he took the opportunity to become an Elks member. Then, when I saw the application online to be on the Elks Scholar Advisory Board, I gave it a shot and applied. After volunteering with my Elks Lodge (earlier today, in fact), I’ve gained a new appreciation for how blessed I am to be a part of such a genuine and pos-itive community. Furthermore, I’m looking forward to our trip to Indianapolis for my sec-ond Elks National Convention! To think that all of this started with a conversation be-tween my dad and a stranger over eight years ago just goes to show how different doors can lead us to amazing places in our lives, as long as we are willing to open them.

I hope the rest of Elks members and scholars alike have had similarly enlightening years, and remember to apply those lessons that we’ve learned into creating an even better year to come!  

Anjithaa Radakrishnan
Elks Scholar Advisory Board Freshman Representative
Pennsylvania State University


In 2015-16, the Elks National Foundation appropriated $4.16 million to fund the ENF scholarship program, which provides college scholarships, ensuring a bright future for our nation’s youth. As important parts of the Elks family, Elks scholars have many social and service opportunities to connect with the Elks and each other. For more information about our scholarship programs, and for ways Lodges can get involved with Elks scholars, visit www.elks.org/enf/scholars.