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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 this label on the right side of the page: #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 live…
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What is Zoom?

by Jim O'Kelley
Director, Elks National Foundation

Every crisis seems to have its breakout star. This one has two, so far—Dr. Fauci and Zoom.
If you’re not familiar, Zoom is a remote video-conferencing tool with a free basic package. In these days of social distancing and sheltering in place, Zoom is also a godsend. At the O’Kelley household today, we had three concurrent Zoom meetings going on at one point—Meghan, me, and Jane with her Panda Room preschool pals.
In our new teleworking reality, the ENF staff has been using Zoom through Microsoft Teams for check-ins, standing meetings and impromptu discussions. These conferences have helped us stay connected and feel like we’re part of a team despite our isolation.
A couple of weeks ago, I saw on Facebook that Boonton, N.J., Lodge No. 1405 had installed its new class of officers through a virtual Lodge meeting and installation ceremony on Zoom. That post stuck with me as an example of some solid problem solving in this new environ…

Here for You, if Not There for You

by Jim O'Kelley
Director, Elks National Foundation
I can’t get Jon Bon Jovi out of my head. Specifically, I’m stuck on the five words he swore to all of us: “I’ll be there for you.”

Alas, we cannot be there for you--there being our offices in the Elks Veterans Memorial. Illinois currently is under a mandate from the Governor to shelter in place through April 7, at least. But we are here for you.

The ENF began transitioning to a remote workplace last week. As of today, all 18 of us are out of the office and working normal business hours from home. We’re as passionate about helping you build stronger communities as we ever were. As my colleague Debbie Kahler Doles says, “The office may be closed, but the mission continues.”

If you need to reach us, email or a phone call are your best bets. We do have a solution for old-fashioned mail, but it will be a few days at least before that solution is up to speed.

Although they’re no longer working together in our converted lunchroom, the G…

Hope in the Time of Coronavirus

by Jim O'Kelley
Director, Elks National Foundation What a difference a few weeks make. As I’m sure is the case with you, COVID-19 has upended things around here.

I’d like to take a few minutes to update you on how the pandemic has affected our staff and programs. I’ll start with the staff.

On Monday, there were 18 of us in the office. Yesterday, only five. Everyone else is working remotely from home. We’re all communicating with one another using wonderful technology. And the people at home have access to the network via work-issued laptops, as well as their work phones and email. Contacting us should be seamless for you. 

The skeleton crew in the office should shrink to four at some point this week. We are here to deal with the aspects of our work that do not lend themselves to working remotely.

You can help us further reduce our numbers. If you are a Lodge officer or ENF Fundraising Chair who has been sitting on a stack of donations, please send those in today. The faster we c…

Sometimes You Miss Your First Shot

by Jacobi Lafferty
2017 Hoop Shoot National Champion
Jacobi is a 2017 Hoop Shoot National Champion sponsored by Burlington, Vt., Lodge No. 916. He won a Frank Hise National Championship in the 10-11 boys division. Jacobi is part of the new Hoop Shoot alumni group, the Rebounders. Too old to compete and too young to serve on the BackBoard, these alumni are staying involved by serving at their local, state and regional contests.


My grandparents, who were long-time Elks members, first told me about the Hoop Shoot when I was 9 years old. They took me to it one day while my parents were working. I had no idea what to expect, but I knew if it had anything to do with basketball, I was willing to give it a try. I participated for the next five years. I overcame some big hurdles along the way, like having to shoot while I had the flu or with a broken thumb, which I broke the night before we left for the regional contest, and I had to withdraw another year because of a neck injury due to a medica…

Baby Elks Take on San Diego: A Week of Service, Laughter and Understanding

by Eric Xia
2017 Most Valuable Student Scholar
My name is Eric Xia, and I’m currently in my third year studying medical science and economics at Boston University. As an aspiring physician, I was undoubtedly excited about the idea of serving and learning about the many issues facing San Diego; however, the idea of spending an entire week with 22 strangers across the country was a little nerve-racking. I can now confidently say that the Winter Elks Scholar Service Trip was one of the most fulfilling and transformative experiences of my life.

My most vivid memory of feeling like a part of the Elks family was at the 150 for 150 celebration at the 2018 Elks National Convention in San Antonio. In just a few short days, I scrubbed sleeping mats for those experiencing homelessness, connected with 150 of the most incredible and kindhearted scholars, and met countless Elks members, including the representatives from the Westbrook, Conn., Lodge No. 1784 which sponsored my scholarship!

So, when…

The Cornerstone of Service

by Lydia Smeltz
Legacy Awards Recipient

Lydia Smeltz is a 2017 Legacy Awards recipient, sponsored by West Shore, Pa., Lodge No. 2257. Legacy scholars are required to serve with a Lodge at least once per year, and Lydia served with a Lodge near Duke University, where she’s a junior. Lydia received a 2019-20 Cornerstone Grant, a $500 grant available to Legacy Awards recipients interested in expanding a community service project in their Lodge community.

As a Legacy Scholar, I had the opportunity to work with Raleigh, N.C., Lodge No. 735, which is quickly becoming my “home-away-from-home” Lodge. I had previously served with the Raleigh Elks over the summer during one of their weekly bingo nights, and when I heard about the opportunity to apply for the ENF Cornerstone Grant, I was eager to go back. I reached out to the Elks I had met, and we worked together to identify an existing service project that could be extended with the help of a Cornerstone Grant.

For the past five years, the Ral…

Flock of Numbers

by Claire Schnucker
Donor Services Coordinator
Numbers have always moved like birds in my mind. During the past few months the ENF’s Director, Jim O’Kelley, and I have been tasked with ENF’s File Analysis. We look at a bunch of numbers from this year and previous years, tell a story about what happened, and maybe make a few predictions of what will happen. In other words, look at where we have been, where we are now, and where we might be headed.

Numbers, like animals in nature, move in different patterns of behavior. For animal patterns and gatherings, the English language has words for how they congregate. Such as “a grumble of pugs” or “a murder of crows.” These words are filled with whimsy and truth, and I highly recommend collecting them.

When numbers move like geese in a skein, my job is easy. They fly in patterns, have a similar progression of movement with obvious parameters and outlines. If I look at where they have been, I know how they will move forward.

When they move li…

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