Monday, August 31, 2015

Meet the ENF Staff

Lauren Barnes
Donor Services Assistant
 
How long have you worked at the ENF? I'll have my three month anniversary on August 27. How the time flies!

What projects are you/your department working on right now? The Donor Services Team is always working hard for our Elks and donors!

What’s your favorite part of working at the ENF? I love being part of an organization that does so much within Elks communities, but I'm inspired by Sandy Supancic. She has worked here for a very long time, is a long-time Elk who does SO MUCH for her community, and she comes in every day with a smile and a great attitude. And she is a living history of the Order! I have a lot to learn from her, although the whole ENF Team really inspires me and is my favorite part about working here.

Describe your average day at the ENF. I don't really have an average day, but I typically start out my week by sending acknowledgements to our generous donors. The rest of my week consists of processing donations, and helping our Elks with any questions they may have.

What are you looking forward to this year? Everything! Many things at the ENF are still new to me. I'm really excited for the Halloween party, Christmas caroling around the office, K-Kup(our yearly team building event), and Hoop Shoot!

What’s one thing about you that might surprise people? My go-to response is that I have a cat at home that is potty trained to go in the toilet.

If you could meet anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and why? I don't think I can narrow this down to one person, but I can narrow it down to three. George Harrison, because I'm a huge Beatles fan and George is behind many of my favorite Beatles songs. Benjamin Franklin, because I would like to meet one of the Founding Fathers and I think I would enjoy hearing his witty remarks. And last but not least, I didn't have the chance to meet one of my grandparents so I would like to meet my grandfather.

Lauren Barnes
Donor Services Assistant


With more than 800,000 members and nearly 2,000 Lodges nationwide, Elks are providing charitable services that help build stronger communities across the United States. The Elks National Foundation, the charitable arm of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, helps Elks build stronger communities through programs that support youth, serve veterans, and meet needs in areas where Elks live and work. To learn more, visit www.elks.org/enf.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Manistique Memories

by Programs Relationship Associate Anne Stretz
 
I recently embarked on the first-ever Elks Scholar Service Trip. On Sunday, August 9, five members of the ENF staff and six Elks scholars departed Chicago and drove up to Manistique, Michigan to serve with Habitat for Humanity HiawathaLand for a week. It took me a while to narrow it down, but here are my top ten memories from the inaugural Elks Scholar Service Trip:
ENF staff and scholars level a floor.
10. Eating lunch together! Andi Wedegartner and other members of Manistique, Mich., Lodge No. 632, provided our lunches each day. After a long morning of work, Andi became the smiling face we looked forward to seeing every day at noon. The outpouring of support from Andi and the local Elks members was overwhelming.

9. Teaching the Elks scholars about Bruce Springsteen. (Seriously, we had to have a lesson about the Boss and his iconic songs.)


8. Reflecting on the boardwalk by the waters of Lake Michigan. One evening, we ventured out to the local boardwalk and were led in a reflection by Maryann Slater. It was a beautiful, almost unreal setting to reflect upon our service together.

7. The wonder of cheese curds. Being a Wisconsin gal, I was so excited that our first pit stop was a Culver’s in Manitowoc, WI where all the Elks scholars could try our fantastic fried cheese curds. The scholars gave nothing but rave reviews, of course.

ENF Staff, scholars, and members of Manistique Lodge at the Lodge.
6. The gorgeous Manistique Elks Lodge. We were told all week how beautiful the Lodge is, and we got to see for ourselves on Thursday night. The Lodge hosted us for dinner and we were treated to a full tour of the beautiful building temple—along with wonderful conversation.

5. Everything is Awesome. Every morning on our ride to the work site we cranked this song up. (Fair warning, if you listen to it, it will get stuck in your head.)

4. Elks scholar teamwork! The Elks scholars jumped in immediately to help restore the 100-year-old home. One of my favorite moments was when Danny, Tyler and Jon used their combined math skills to level a floor. The project was no easy task, but they handled it with talent and teamwork. Seeing their pride afterwards was so special. #WeAreTheChampions

The Pictured Rocks.

3. The beauty of the Pictured Rocks and the Big Springs at Kitchitikipi. You’ll have to check out our pictures because I can’t describe how beautiful the U.P. scenery is.

2. #ElksFamily. From our morning breakfast chats, to our six-hour long car ride. From connecting with the local Elks members, to learning how to hammer. We truly became a close-knit Elks family.

1. Hearing several of the Elks scholars describe the service trip as the best week of their life. #EverythingIsAwesome.

Anne Stretz
Programs Relationship Associate


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.

Monday, August 17, 2015

From Dollars to Dunks

by Youth Programs Associate Billy Donnelly

The past year has been quite a ride. I have spent it working at the Elks National Foundation as the Development Coordinator. This position allowed me to do many things that will have a lasting impact on my life. I have met and worked with some of the most amazing people in the world in the ENF office. I’ve worked with some of the best volunteers any organization could ask for.

Earlier this summer, I joined Lodge No. 1316 in Chicago and attended the 2015 Elks National Convention. I wouldn’t change anything I’ve done over the past year. However, I must look forward to the future—and my future is with the Elks Hoop Shoot. I could not be more excited for the opportunity to be the new Youth Programs Associate at the ENF. Though much will change, much will remain the same. I will still be able to work with the best staff and the best volunteers available. I am still looking forward to a fun week at the Convention in Houston next summer. I am still planning on volunteering at Lodge 1316’s Hoop Shoot and Soccer Shoot. But now, I will be truly fulfilling my passion. Youth programs have been the main focus of my professional career and volunteer opportunities. I believe programs like the Elks Hoop Shoot install values and lessons in children that are a necessity. The lessons learned from something as simple as shooting free throws will help the contestants develop into the future leaders of our country. It is very important that the youth of our country have the opportunity to have fun and compete in a safe environment.

The Elks Hoop Shoot allows them the opportunity to connect with others and their community, strengthening bonds and building relationships. This will allow them to opportunity to succeed in their future endeavors. The Elks Hoop Shoot has always been my favorite ENF program. In fact, I participated in it as a youth myself. I have a brief memory of the event, but recently asked my mother about it. She replied “Well you weren’t very good, and you didn’t make it very far.” My experiences with the Hoop Shoot and other youth programs have stayed with me my entire life. I am looking forward to taking what I have learned from these programs in the past and applying them to the Hoop Shoot of today.

I will work my hardest to ensure that every child has the opportunity to Compete, Connect, and Succeed, and has a lot of fun while doing so!

Billy Donnelly
Youth Programs Associate


Through the Elks National Hoop Shoot Free Throw Program, the Elks National Foundation offers youth the opportunity to engage in healthy competition, connect with their families and community, and succeed both on and off the court. In 2015-16, the ENF allocated $924,070 to fund this program, which includes the exciting addition of a Hoop Shoot app for contestants. For videos, news from the court, and more information about the Hoop Shoot, visit www.elks.org/hoopshoot.

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 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

With more than 800,000 members and nearly 2,000 Lodges nationwide, Elks are providing charitable services that help build stronger communities across the United States. The Elks National Foundation, the charitable arm of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, helps Elks build stronger communities through programs that support youth, serve veterans, and meet needs in areas where Elks live and work. To learn more, visit www.elks.org/enf.