Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Four Reasons to Love Fall

 by Jenna Johnson
Elks Scholar Fellow
 Although no one wants to see summer go, here in the scholarship office, we’ve been excitingly anticipating the change of season because we’ve been hard at work planning several Elks scholar service opportunities for coming months. Fall is filled with good things—from football to pumpkin flavored everything, but most importantly, there are lots of Elks scholar opportunities to get involved in that you won’t want to miss out on! Check out the calendar of events below. 

1. While August has probably brought days of back-to-school shopping, reconnecting with friends and trying to figure out how late you can wake up and still make it to your first class on time, it has also brought the anticipation of another Elks Scholar Service Trip! The application for the Winter Scholar Service Trip in Dallas is now posted and will remain open until October 15. If you’re an Elks scholar, 18 or older, I encourage you to click here to apply to be one of the 20 Elks scholars serving individuals who experience hunger and homelessness in Dallas from January 8-14. It will be a week of learning about important societal issues, forming lasting friendships with fellow Elks scholars, and exploring a new city. If you’re curious about what these trips are all about, click here to watch a recap video from the Chicago Summer Service Trip. 

2. And although September may mean packing up the summer clothing, and anticipating a much needed three-day weekend to recover from your first few weeks of classes, it also means Elks Scholar Meet-Ups are back! My co-worker, Maryann Slater, and I will be traveling to University of Wisconsin on Friday, September 23 to have a meet-up with some of the 26 Elks scholars on campus. The Madison Lodge No. 410 has graciously offered to host us for dinner, and we’re looking forward to a great evening of connecting and conversing. Click here if you’re interested in hosting an Elks Scholar Meet-Up on your campus. We’d love to provide you with resources, and we’ll reimburse you up to $10 per Elks scholar in attendance. It’s the perfect opportunity to try out a new restaurant while also meeting fellow Elks scholars who may become fast friends! 

3. In October, take a quick break from planning out your winning Halloween costume and apply for the Spring Elks Scholar Service Trip! The application will be posted on October 31, and the quicker you apply, the more likely your chances are of spending spring break serving the community of New Orleans. Not sure if this opportunity is for you? Click here to watch a short video of past trip participants explaining why you should attend. 

4. Last, but not least, the first-ever Elks Scholar Service Days will be occurring November 18-20 across the United States. In honor of National Family Volunteer Day on November 19, we encourage all Elks scholars to serve with their Elks family sometime over the course of the weekend. All you have to do is pick a project you’re passionate about and involve Elks scholars on your campus. Maryann and I will be traveling to New York City to serve with Elks scholars attending universities in the area on November 18, and we’d love to be one group of many! Take a moment before Thanksgiving break to pour back into your community, and express your thanks for the many ways people have poured into you as an individual. We know Elks scholars are known for their willingness to serve communities of all kinds. 

So as you head back to campus and start planning out your semester, take a moment to incorporate one or more of these exciting Elks scholar opportunities into your schedule. You won’t regret it, and you might discover a few more reasons to fall in love with fall!




Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Experience Was a Revelation


by Garrett Schumacher

2011 Legacy Scholar, University of Colorado-Boulder

 

Prior to this trip of service in Chicago, I had always admired the individuals who gave of their time and talents with the purpose of bettering someone else’s life. I wanted to be like them but for the wrong, selfish reasons. After feeling inadequate in this regard for some time, I decided to take the leap and apply for the opportunity that only an incredible organization could provide. My background with the Elks has shown me that they are a communal group that profoundly affects the lives of many people on a national scale every day; being one of those people through scholarships, I felt I owed something to the Foundation and the people they serve.

The experience was a revelation for me. I am a proud member of the Elks family and will continue my work and participation in the organization. I did not owe anyone anything other than gratitude, and I could give of myself for the sole purpose of being a better fellow human being.
The interactions with the other Elks scholars, the Elks’ employees and Lodge members, and individuals and communities we served and served alongside will always stay with me in such a positive way. I often say, “It’s not where you go but who you go there with that makes the experience worthwhile.” I have never found this to be truer than with the Elks Service Trip. Lifelong friends were made, deep connections with the “other” inspired me to think differently, and I will never forget the memories.


After taking away so much from this trip, I plan to continue the Elks’ mission in my local community and global community. I am already looking forward to other service trips, hopefully again with the Elks in the future. I will also be going on a mission trip to Egypt in July of 2016. At the University of Colorado at Boulder, I will be hosting a meet and greet in August and try to increase the Elks’ presence in Boulder, Colo. I will increase my own knowledge and experience with impoverished and under-served people everywhere and serve them in order to make the world a better place than I found it.
Lastly, I wish to thank the Elks and their members, employees, and scholars everywhere for the work they do to make such endeavors possible. Knowing that such amazing people exist and are willing to fight against destitution and persecution shows me this world’s potential. It is a beautiful place, and I hope that all can enjoy it someday equally.

Garret is in the process of becoming a member of the Elks. He plans to join Boulder, Colo., Lodge No. 566. We’re excited that he will continue to serve in the name of the Elks as a scholar and as a member.


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Breaking the Box

by Emily Warriner
Central Michigan University, 2015 Legacy Scholar


One of the greatest pieces of advice I have been told is to find the limits of my comfort zone, the “box” I put myself in, and break it. “Break the box,” they told me. As I started college, I told myself that I was going to live by those words—I would branch out and try new things, do things that I would have never done before. I don’t think I really understood how impactful this advice was until this summer.

Serving with scholars on the Summer Elks Scholar Service Trip in Chicago was something unlike I had ever done before.  Traveling to Chicago with people I had never met before was definitely outside of my comfort zone. I think this was part of the reason I was attracted to the trip—it was an incredible opportunity to do something I had never done before, and I wanted to put that advice into action. I wanted to break my perceived limits.


What really surprised me by the end of the week was how much I was changed because of this trip. Going into it, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I think that was what made it so impactful. I went into this trip with no preconceived notions of how I should feel or how my life would be different by the end of it—I was completely open to whatever was going to come my way. And it honestly changed my life.

This trip taught me so much. At the beginning of the week, we did an activity where we wrote down our definition of service on an index card. We kept what we said to ourselves and did not look at the cards during the week. On the last night, we looked at our definition and talked about how it had changed because of the trip. My original definition I still agreed with by the end of the week, but I had added some aspects. I’ve learned that service is giving of yourself selflessly, wholly, and entirely to put the needs of someone else above your own. Service has nothing to do with me, but everything to do with those I am serving. I guess it never really clicked until now that I have to completely step aside and take what I may get out of the experience out of the equation.  I’m not there to get something out of it. I’m there to serve. And I’ve learned that having that attitude leads to more meaningful connections and an overall absolutely incredible and meaningful experience.
 
I’ve also learned that letting go of the word “can’t” has a huge impact with service.  There have been service opportunities that I have passed over because I’ve thought, ‘Oh, I can’t do that, I’m not good enough at that.’ But what I found is that if I stop thinking like that, there’s no limit to the type of service I can participate in. I’m not artistically talented, but I was able to work together with my Elks family to put up part of a mosaic on the wall of an elementary school. I have a tendency to be nervous of saying the wrong thing around people, but I was able to overcome that fear and make some incredible connections with veterans. This is something I never would have thought I could do, but working with my fellow Elks scholars, I felt as if though there was nothing we couldn’t do.

I am so thankful for the people I had the opportunity to serve with that week. We started out as strangers and left as a family. It was amazing how quickly we meshed together and how much fun we had. From working together at the service sites, to “fam dinners,” to exploring the city, to late night card games, we shared an incredible experience that will stay with me forever. One of my fellow scholars, Dani Richetelli, said, “You know that ‘Elks family thing? Yeah, it’s real.”  I agree wholeheartedly, it really is. 

This trip was incredible. It was an experience that I will never forget, and one that I completely intend to build upon. I am so thankful to the Elks for providing an opportunity to learn, serve, and connect with other Elks scholars while serving those who served. I broke the box, and it lead me to an experience that has completely changed my life.