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The ENF in D.C.

by Taylor Odisho
Communications Assistant
Oh, the places you’ll go when you work at the Elks National Foundation! Most recently, I took my first trip to our nation’s capital to work on a documentary that will hopefully lead many to “Be the Spark.”
We’ve been working on a series of features about veterans who received emergency assistance through the Elks. Since July 2015, the ENF has contributed $4 million to help end veteran homelessness. The money funds the Elks National Veterans Service Commission's Welcome Home initiative, which includes the Emergency Assistance Fund that helped support Nicole. She was brave enough to share her story with us again on camera to help other veterans like her. 
The first day of shooting meant my first time visiting an Elks Lodge! Prince George’s County, Maryland, Lodge No. 1778 graciously opened its doors for us to film interviews with two Elks who are very involved and passionate about the Emergency Assistance Fund and Welcome Home project: Carl Ro…
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Meaghan's First Month

by Meaghan Morris

Programs Coordinator, Lodge Grants

Hello! My name is Meaghan, and I am thrilled to be the new Programs Coordinator in the Community Investments Program office.

I graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2015. Since then, I’ve jetted around peripatetically, travelling to 46 states and 24 countries, and living in Western Massachusetts, Boston, and the mountains of rural Wyoming.  I moved to Chicago in 2016, and the Cubs won the World Series a little while later. I attribute my move as the main catalyst for the breaking of the Curse of the Billy Goat, so, you’re welcome for that, Cubs fans!
I joined the ENF during its busiest time of the year. I started working in the CIP office one day after grant applications opened for the new year, and our office was inundated with hundreds of grant applications in that first week alone. On top of the busyness in our office, Fundraising, Communications, Hoop Shoot and Scholarships were excitedly (yet gracefully!) prepar…

A Glazed Donut

by Christine Robinson

Senior Associate, Communications
Every year, we ask the Hoop Shoot National Finalists to tell us fun facts about themselves. One of the questions we ask is, “What’s your lucky charm?” Finalists have a variety of answers. They list things like lucky jerseys, tie-dye socks, family members, or their favorite t-shirts. But this year, a Finalist from New York listed his lucky charm as a glazed donut.

For as long as I’ve been working with the trading cards, a Finalist has never listed food as their lucky charm, let alone a donut.
As a donut fan myself, I had to know more. I hoped to meet Tommy Goodelle and his family during the Finals weekend in Chicago. On the first day, I found myself in the FanZone with Tommy and his dad, Andy. I introduced myself and began my line of questioning.
“What’s with the donut?” (His dad told me it’s become a tradition so that Tommy isn’t shooting on an empty stomach.)
“Do you eat one before the contest?” “Yes.”
“Do you have a donut prefe…

Living Out My Pacific Northwest Dreams through Service

by Melissa Hoffman

2017 Most Valuable Student Scholar
My name is Melissa Hoffmann. I’m a sophomore studying Environmental Studies at Vassar College in New York. I’m involved in climate justice and environmental activism work on campus and with the community. Traveling to Portland, Oregon, with the Elks marked my first time traveling alone, and it was to a place I’ve never been with people I’ve never met. My first Elks Scholar Service Trip ended up being the best spring break I’ve ever had.
One of the reasons I was interested in the trip to Portland, aside from wanting to connect with other Elks scholars and use my energy to make a difference in the world, was the location. As an environmentalist who fully embraces my love for a good soil composition and a low-carbon lifestyle, Portland has always interested me. It is known as one of the greenest, if not the greenest, city in the U.S. for its high-quality public transportation, walkability and bikeability, access to green spaces, and sust…

The People Make It Special

by John Kavula
Elks Scholar Fellow
At 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 12, I was finally able to breathe a sigh of relief. After a week of long days running around with kids at the Boys and Girls Club and serving in the Mississippi sun followed by little sleep, my first Elks Scholar Service Trip was over. While it certainly wasn’t easy, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
I like to think I have one of the best jobs in the world—I get to travel around the country, learn about new communities through service and, best of all, meet amazing people while doing so. This year’s winter trip to Biloxi was no exception.
Returning to the Gulf Coast was a bit of a homecoming for me because I lived an hour away from Biloxi for about 10 years. Even though it was only for a week, it was great to see the scholars, many of whom had never been to Mississippi or even the Deep South before, get a taste of what the Gulf Coast has to offer. And I don’t just mean the food!
A highlight, or at least very memorable …

For the Love of Nonprofits

by Nathan Kriha
Donor Services Coordinator
One of the most consistent passions in my life has been a love for nonprofits—especially ones that focus on education and the development of impoverished communities. This love can be traced all the way back to my high school days when my mother (quite forcibly) suggested I teach a kindergarten religious education course with her.
After my introductory class, I thought that this decision would easily be one of the biggest regrets of my life: The children would scream, cry, launch their crayons into space, tear up their books, and cry a little more. While I was initially stunned by this preliminary lesson, I witnessed my mother corral these angsty students and gradually create a heartwarming and quite soothing environment. At this moment I realized the true influence that a teacher can have on their students, and I became captivated with the study of successful teaching methods.
This interest persisted into my coursework at the University of Notr…

The Art of Raising Funds

by Taylor Odisho
Communications Coordinator

This may come as a shock to no one, but starting and running a nonprofit is not easy. Every initiative must be calculated; every mailing needs a purpose; and every volunteer and staff member should overflow with passion for the cause, or it just won’t work. Luckily, since I started working at the Elks National Foundation a year ago, I’ve noticed that last part comes pretty easily. 

Recently, I had the privilege to attend a week-long fundraising course taught by two experts in the field—Jeri Pat Gabbert and Tim Seiler from Indiana University. They were engaging and provided fruitful information that seemed applicable to everyone in the class, from the students who worked for established nonprofits like the Salvation Army to one-person fundraising teams there to learn the basics. 

The biggest lesson I took away from the course—aside from understanding the fundamentals of fundraising—is that the ENF is a well-oiled nonprofit machine. This is, in pa…