Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Kent Island, Md., Lodge No. 2576


Kids near Kent Island, Md., Lodge No. 2576 are having a reel-y good time! The Lodge used its Elks National Foundation Promise Grant to hold a fishing derby for local kids. Elks partnered with several businesses and community groups to hold the event, which featured food, raffles, games, and presentations on safety and drug awareness. There was even a special presentation by the Department of Natural Resources’ working dogs! 

The ENF awards $2,000 Promise Grants to the first 500 Lodges that pledge to host an event that helps build the character and competence of youth in their community. To find out more about Promise Grants and the Community Investments Program, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Grapevine, Tex., Lodge No. 2483

Grapevine, Tex., Lodge No. 2483 used its Promise Grant to hold a Christmas party with the police department. Word spread through the grapevine and more than 400 local families attended! Elks and police also donated toys, stuffed animals and bicycles to children in need. Above, Lodge Secretary Janet Rose poses with her grandchildren in front of the food and toys Lodge members collected.

The Elks National Foundation awards $2,000 Promise Grants to the first 500 Lodges that pledge to host an event that helps build the character and competence of youth in their community. To find out more about Promise Grants and the Community Investments Program, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Cartersville, Ga., Lodge No. 1969

Cartersville, Ga., Lodge No. 1969 partnered with DCFS to reach out to children in need at Christmas. The Lodge used its Community Investments Program Promise Grant to throw a party complete with a holiday meal, decorations, gifts and winter clothing for each child. Of course, the highlight of the party was a visit with Santa!

The ENF awards $2,000 Promise Grants to the first 500 Lodges that pledge to host an event that helps build the character and competence of youth in their community. To find out more about Promise Grants and the Community Investments Program, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sandals and Snowshoes in Sault Sainte Marie

By Jimmy Tomczak, 2011 Elks Alum of the Year and 2006 MVS scholar

This summer, the Elks National Foundation recognized me as the 2011 Alum of the Year during the Elks National Convention in Phoenix, Arizona. After accepting the award and speaking at the convention, I met Michigan Elks President, Keith Alverson and his wife, Greer. While talking, he mentioned a major Michigan Elks gathering and we agreed to keep in touch.

A few months later, Keith invited me to speak in Sault Sainte Marie at the Michigan Elks Association’s 55th Annual Fall Conference. As the ENF Alum of the Year, I addressed the Michigan membership at both their business session and ladies luncheon to share my Elks scholar story and represent the Elks National Foundation’s focus on programming that benefits Elks, Elks scholars and other programs recipients and our communities.

More than 300 people listened closely as I shared my not-so-distant memories of applying for an Elks Most Valuable Student Scholarship at my local Lodge, Detroit-Redford, Mich. Lodge No. 2097, and watching my application work its way up from district, to regional, to state—and finally receiving notice that I would be honored at the national level.

I recounted how the Elks sponsored my little sister, allowing her to attend a Down Syndrome speech and language therapy camp where she learned how to sign and eventually talk.

I described the value of the Alum of the Year opportunity and activities like Elks scholar meet-ups on campuses across the country, and other community and youth initiatives led by active young Elks scholars.

Finally, I shared how my company, TOMBOLO, is changing the world by introducing youth to hands-on social entrepreneurship and promoting awareness of conscious consumption and creative reuse.

Before I could sit down, everyone stood up—with applause, photos, handshakes, and smiles that followed.

But my conference interaction didn’t end at the mass audience level; I engaged on a deeper and more personal level with long-time, active and committed Elks. I met people with exciting stories like Walt Muellenhagen whose friend launched a company that, in contrast to my summer sandals by TOMBOLO, manufactures snowshoes out of recycled tires right here in Michigan. I met Brad Saegesser, Michigan State Scholarship Chair. He introduced me to the Water Warriors program—a group of volunteers who brave the cold Great Lakes water by riding Sea-Doos hundreds of miles to raise millions of dollars for the Special Olympics. I talked with Ray Chase who is connecting me with his Lansing Lodge to speak, and is encouraging young adults to get involved in their community and give Elkdom a try. And these are just a few examples of the great connections I made.

The Elks impact goes beyond statistics and scholarship dollars. Find a local Lodge, find a friend, and attend one of the events there. If you like what you see, who you meet, and your overall experience, submit your application to become an Elk.

For more information about Elks scholar opportunities, including the Alum of the Year Award, please visit www.elks.org/enf/elksscholars.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Madison, Tenn., Lodge No. 2473

Madison, Tenn., Lodge No. 2473 used its Community Investments Program Gratitude Grant to make sure students have everything they need for a successful school year. Elks partnered with local schools to purchase clothes for students in need, which will be distributed throughout the year. 

“Community Investments Program grants really heighten the awareness of the Elks' work in the community and spread good will toward the members,” says Project Manager Randall Vaughn.

The ENF awards $2,000 Gratitude Grants to Lodges to directly address local needs. Lodges are eligible to apply for Gratitude Grants after meeting the GER’s per-capita goal. To find out more about Gratitude Grants and the Community Investments Program, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.   

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Bryan, Tex., Lodge No. 859

Bryan, Tex., Lodge No. 859 partnered with the local VFW to reach out to all veterans. Elks used their Community Investments Program Gratitude Grant to provide a free catfish dinner for the veterans, during which the Lodge honored veterans' contributions with a ceremony. More than 200 people attended the dinner.

“Vets from all over came, ate a great meal and felt proud to have served our nation,” says Lodge Secretary Anna Perez.

The ENF awards $2,000 Gratitude Grants to Lodges to directly address local needs. Lodges are eligible to apply for Gratitude Grants after meeting the GER’s per-capita goal. To find out more about Gratitude Grants and the Community Investments Program, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.   

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Kimberling County, Mo., Lodge No. 2505
Elks carry their ship to the starting line.
Kimberling County, Mo., Lodge No. 2505 helped fellow citizens by hopping aboard a sinking ship. Elks used their Elks National Foundation Community Investments Program Gratitude Grant to help Chances, a local center for people with disabilities, hold a cardboard boat race fundraiser. Though the Elks’ boat sunk before it reached the finish line, they were still winners, claiming first prize for overall fundraiser and receiving recognition for team spirit.

The ENF awards $2,000 Gratitude Grants to Lodges to directly address local needs. Lodges are eligible to apply for Gratitude Grants after meeting the GER’s per-capita goal. To find out more about Gratitude Grants and the Community Investments Program, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.   

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Crestwood, Miss., Lodge No. 2053

Crestwood, Miss., Lodge No. 2053 partnered with the St. Louis VA Medical Center to hold a welcome home celebration for returning soldiers. This celebration was made possible by an ENF Gratitude Grant, a component of the Community Investments Program. Elks volunteered their time and served 1,300 meals to veterans and their families at the celebration.

The ENF awards $2,000 Gratitude Grants to Lodges to directly address local needs. Lodges are eligible to apply for Gratitude Grants after meeting the GER’s per-capita goal. To find out more about Gratitude Grants, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.   

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Golden, Colo., Lodge No. 2740

Elks from Golden, Colo., Lodge No. 2740 used their Freedom Grant to supply clothes for veterans in need.The Elks also volunteered at a local stand down, during which 500 veterans got medical and dental check-ups, learned about VA benefits and received housing assistance. Elks helped with transportation, and the Elks’ presence reminded veterans that they will never be forgotten.

Funded by the Elks National Foundation, Freedom Grants, a component of the Elks National Veterans Service Commission, are $2,000 grants that Lodges can use to help veterans or active duty military personnel. In 2011-12, the Elks National Foundation allocated more than $1.135 million to fund the Elks National Veterans Service Commission. For more information, visit www.elks.org/programs/vets.cfm.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Elks Family Dinner

By Programs Assistant Brianne Menges

I have a confession to make: I don’t really listen to country music. It’s not that I don’t like it; I’m just more of a Glee fan myself. So after landing in the country music capital of Nashville, Tenn., I was a little apprehensive about how much I would have in common with everyone there.

Thankfully, our dissimilarities began and ended with our taste in music.

Assistant Director Debbie Kahler Doles and I recently traveled to Nashville to attend the National Scholarship Providers Association’s annual conference. While taking a break from various informational sessions, we were able to meet with some local Elks and Elks scholars for dinner.

In the months leading up to our trip, this dinner is what I had been looking forward to the most. After working for the ENF for two years, this was going to be my first opportunity to meet Elks and Elks scholars in person. I couldn’t wait!

For me, this was a chance to put faces with names, and meet the people who make our work possible and those who benefit from our programs.

Upon arriving at the restaurant, Tennessee State Veteran’s Chair Dalton Jordan, and Tennessee State Scholarship Chair Jim Birdsong and his wife, Paulette, were already waiting for us. My first Elks!

While we waited for our other guests to arrive, we had the chance to talk. I heard about the various projects my new friends were doing at their Lodges and throughout Tennessee. It was amazing to hear all of the outreach projects going on in their communities. These Elks are doing impressive things!

As our Elks scholars began arriving and introducing themselves, it was wonderful to see such a variety of backgrounds, from an alumna working on her Ph.D., to freshmen experiencing their first midterms. They were all excited to meet the Elks who helped make their scholarships possible; for many of them, this was their first time meeting Elks too.

It was such a joy to not only meet the Elks and Elks scholars, but to see them meet each other and swap stories of their times in school. That night, we were all members of the Elks family hanging out and sharing a meal. 

And like most families, we ate a little, we laughed a lot, and we have very different taste in music.

The Elks National Foundation provides more than $3.6 million in college scholarships each year. For more information about our scholarship programs, including eligibility and deadlines, please visit www.elks.org/enf/scholars.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Bridgeport, Conn., Lodge No. 36

Bridgeport, Conn., Lodge No. 36 supports veterans in need all year with its Impact Grant, Serving Those Who Served. Elks provide a well-balanced meal once a month, organize holiday outings and purchase much-needed supplies for veterans at the Home for the Brave transitional center.

The ENF awards Impact Grants to help Lodges significantly address unmet needs in Elks communities. Impact Grants are competitive grants worth up to $10,000 and are open to all Lodges. To find out more about Impact Grants, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Kearney, Nebr., Lodge No. 984

Thanks to the members of Kearney, Nebr., Lodge No. 984, Buffalo County is covered in red ribbons! Elks made sure all students observed Red Ribbon Week by wearing red ribbons, learning the dangers of drug and alcohol use and abuse, and committing to drug-free lives. With their $2,000 Promise Grant, Elks partnered with Positive Pressure, a workgroup of Buffalo County Community Partners, to spread the drug-free message to all local schools by distributing Elks drug awareness materials and empowering students to make healthy choices.

“The Kearney Elks are honored to participate in Red Ribbon Week, and encourage everyone to pledge to say no to drugs,” said Doug Kramer, Lodge Drug Awareness Chair. 

In 2011-12, the Elks National Foundation allocated $715,350 to fund the Elks National Drug Awareness Program. For more information on the Drug Awareness Program and Red Ribbon Week, visit www.elks.org/dap

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Charles, City, Iowa, Lodge No. 418

Elks at Charles, City, Iowa, Lodge No. 418 know how to throw a party! The Lodge used its Promise Grant to hold Halloween, Christmas and Easter parties for children of deployed Iowa National Guard soldiers. After the celebrations wind down, Elks send notes to soldiers with pictures of their kids at the parties. The Elks also support these families by fundraising for those in need.

The ENF awards $2,000 Promise Grants to the first 500 Lodges that pledge to host an event that helps build the character and competence of youth in their community. To find out more about Promise Grants, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Waukesha, Wis., Lodge No. 400

Waukesha, Wis., Lodge No. 400 used its Gratitude Grant to send local girl Cara Aldrich to a week-long summer camp for people with disabilities. Cara spent the week swimming, bowling, dancing, boating and having a great time. She thanked the Elks for the opportunity and called the camp “the best week of her life.”

The ENF awards $2,000 Gratitude Grants to Lodges to directly address local needs. Lodges are eligible to apply for Gratitude Grants after meeting the GER’s per-capita goal. To find out more about Gratitude Grants, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.   

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fruits (and Vegetables) of Their Labor

By Programs Relationship Associate Anne Shields

This past week, I had the opportunity to visit a 2011 ENF Cornerstone Grant project in Milwaukee, Wis. Elks scholar alum Karlye Rodriguez-Wisdom received a $500 ENF Cornerstone Grant to create an urban garden, called the Cream City Gardens, at the Guest House Homeless Shelter. Now, a few months later, the garden is providing healthy, nutritious food to the residents of the shelter and Karlye is teaching them how to care for the plants.

Ever since Karlye received the Cornerstone Grant this spring, I have been eager to see the project come to life. So I was thrilled when Karlye invited the ENF and the Milwaukee Elks to a Harvest Party to celebrate a successful season of gardening. Steve Vitale, a member of the Milwaukee, Wis., Lodge No. 46, joined me at the event where we got to see the Cream City Gardens in action.

When I first laid eyes on 30 garden beds, it was clear how much hard work went into transforming a vacant lot in downtown Milwaukee into a thriving garden full of peppers, tomatoes and basil. But Karlye didn’t do it alone, she had the help of another Elks scholar alum, Tyler Ulbrich. They met while attending medical school at the Medical College of Wisconsin. The two told me they were surprised to learn about their common Elks bond when they applied for the Cornerstone Grant!

Karlye and Tyler gave us a tour of the Guest House and showed us the fruits (and vegetables) of their labor. We saw multiple garden beds with sprawling tomato plants and the biggest cabbage plant Steve or I had ever seen. They even planted wild flowers to help beautify the land.

While walking through the garden, Karlye and Tyler outlined their plans for the future. Before next spring, they plan to tear down a vacant building on the lot and greatly expand the gardens. 

At the end of our visit, we enjoyed a wonderful meal made with vegetables direct from the Cream City Gardens. As I looked at all the great work Karlye, Tyler and their team do for the Guest House and the Milwaukee community, I was amazed that they are able to take time out of medical school to give back to the community in such a meaningful way. But that’s what being an Elks scholar is all about, and Karlye and Tyler certainly exemplify what it means to be an Elks scholar.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Duarte, Calif., Lodge No. 1427

Thanks to an ENF Impact Grant, Elks at Duarte, Calif., Lodge No. 1427 partner with the Community Service Council to provide bikes and helmets to kids in need, along with free classes on bike safety and repair. Elks also helped start a program in which older kids teach younger kids how to ride and care for their bikes. Sounds like Elks have this project really rolling.

The ENF awards Impact Grants to help Lodges significantly address unmet needs in Elks communities. Impact Grants are competitive grants worth up to $10,000 and are open to all Lodges. To find out more about Impact Grants, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Back to School with Westchester, Calif., Lodge No. 2050

Westchester, Calif., Lodge No. 2050 used its Gratitude Grant to send local students to the East Coast, and back in time. Lodge members, several of whom teach at the school, were happy to send these middle school students on a trip to Washington D.C. to learn about our government.

The ENF awards $2,000 Gratitude Grants to Lodges to directly address local needs. Lodges are eligible to apply for Gratitude Grants after meeting the GER’s per-capita goal. To find out more about Gratitude Grants, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.   

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Plainview, Tex., Lodge No. 1175


Plainview, Tex., Lodge No. 1175 worked with teachers, parents and children to build a “Garden of Honor” at a local junior high school, commemorating the military. Elks used their Gratitude Grant to support the project. The Lodge hopes that the garden makes students proud of those serving our country!

The ENF awards Gratitude Grants to Lodges to directly address local needs. Lodges are eligible to apply for Gratitude Grants after meeting the GER’s per-capita goal. To find out more about Gratitude Grants, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.   

Friday, August 26, 2011

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Hampton, Va., Lodge No. 366

Thanks to an Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant, Hampton, Va., Lodge No. 366 presented six Wii consoles to veterans at the Hampton VA Medical Center. The center is using these games for therapeutic and recreational purposes, helping the veterans to relax and enjoy themselves.

The ENF awards $2,000 Gratitude Grants to Lodges to directly address local needs. Lodges are eligible to apply for Gratitude Grants after meeting the GER’s per-capita goal. To find out more about Gratitude Grants, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.   

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Elks Community Builder of the Week


Gardner, Mass., Lodge No. 1426

Gardner, Mass., Lodge No. 1426 used its Promise Grant to hold Gardner’s first annual Kids Safety Day. Elks partnered with the Police and Fire Departments to teach more than 160 children about fire safety, bike safety and drug awareness. Attendees played games, won prizes, met Elroy the Elk, and received a free bike helmet. The day was a huge success!

The ENF awards $2,000 Promise Grants to the first 500 Lodges that pledge to host an event that helps build the character and competence of youth in their community. To find out more about Promise Grants, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Elks Scholars Meet Under the Sun

By Maryann Slater, Elks Scholar Advisory Board Member

My name is Maryann Slater and this year I am the Elks Scholar Advisory Board Freshman Representative. The SAB’s job is to brainstorm ways to enhance the Elks Scholar experience. It was such an honor to be accepted to the SAB, and I was both excited and nervous to participate in the annual SAB meeting in Phoenix during the Elks National Convention.

I am a Legacy scholar. Both of my parents are Elks members and I have grown up around the Elks. I’m so fortunate to have been able to see first hand what a generous and caring organization the Elks is. I was so eager to take my place on the Board because I would get to give back to the Elks and be involved in my own way. With the support of my parents’ lodges, I couldn’t wait to dive into an Elks-filled weekend.
Friday night of convention we met to discuss the weekend’s plans, introduce ourselves, and meet ENF staff. Each person I met was just as nice as the one before! The staff members were so interested in hearing about our college plans. It was nice to see that as much as we wanted to work with them, they wanted to work with us and valued our opinions. We received our schedule for the weekend and were excited to see that we would be attending an Arizona Diamondbacks game as well as a Mexican Fiesta!

Later that night we had the privilege of speaking with several ENF donors, all of whom congratulated us on our scholarships and asked us about our college experience. At the Diamondbacks game I found that many of the members of the Board are MVS scholars, and their involvement with the Elks began with their scholarship. Because I have a different background, it was nice to talk to kids my own age about the Elks and hear about their experiences.

The next night we got to experience a Mexican Fiesta at Corona Ranch. There, we had the honor of mingling with many ENF donors. It was great to meet people from all over the country who were passionate about the same things we are—the Elks and the ENF. It was also gratifying to be able to thank these donors first hand for funding programs such as our scholarships. And it didn’t hurt that we got to do the electric slide with them!

The weekend wasn’t all baseball games and fiestas, though. Throughout the weekend we met to discuss how we could enhance the Elks scholar experience. Because I was the newest member, I wasn’t even sure what the Elks scholar experience was! I was so glad to find out that receiving a scholarship from the Elks is unlike any other scholarship. Once you become an Elks scholar, you have a connection with other students all over the country! Then, once you find the other Elks scholars on your campus, you can make a difference in your community in the name of the Elks. I realized the Elks isn’t just an organization for my parents. Now, even before you’re 21 you can get involved as an Elks scholar and make a difference!

My favorite part of the weekend was meeting and talking with the other Scholar Advisory Board members. We were all so different, yet we have this connection with the Elks that brought us together. When I get to school and meet up with Elks scholars on my campus, I’ll get to meet even more people from all different backgrounds.

I can’t say it enough—thanks ENF! Thanks ENF donors! And thanks to the Elks for all you have done and continue to do in the country today. And for any Elks scholars who might be reading this—you’re a part of something bigger than you realize! Take the opportunity to make a difference on your campus and give back to an organization that’s helping to fund your college experience!

To enhance scholar relations and communication, the Elks Scholar Advisory Board was founded in 2009. For more information about the Elks Scholar Advisory Board, please visit www.elks.org/enf/scholars/scholaradvisoryboard.cfm.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Ames, Iowa, Lodge No. 1626

Ames, Iowa, Lodge No. 1626 used its Gratitude Grant to support a group called Quilts for Kids. The group, which includes a few Elks, delivers handmade quilts to the local children’s hospital to make their stay more comfortable.

The ENF awards $2,000 Gratitude Grants to Lodges to directly address local needs. Lodges are eligible to apply for Gratitude Grants after meeting the GER’s per-capita goal. To find out more about Gratitude Grants, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.   

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Skowhegan-Madison, Maine, Lodge No. 2531

Mike Lange, Exalted Ruler of Skowhegan-Madison, Maine, Lodge No. 2531 helped break ground for an addition to the New Hope Women’s Shelter. The Lodge used its Gratitude Grant to help with construction costs for this crisis shelter.
The ENF awards $2,000 Gratitude Grants to Lodges to directly address local needs. Lodges are eligible to apply for Gratitude Grants after meeting the GER’s per-capita goal. To find out more about Gratitude Grants, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.   

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Cahaba Valley, Ala., Lodge No. 1738

Members of Cahaba Valley, Ala., Lodge No. 1738 make sure dialysis patients at the Shelby County area Kidney Dialysis Centers have everything they need to make their stay comfortable. Elks use their Impact Grant to purchase and assemble comfort care kits for patients, which include a blanket with the Elks logo. Elks also host parties at the Dialysis Centers to build a sense of community. To date, Elks have delivered 136 comfort care kits, 130 snack packs, and 100 caregiver gift bags—showing patients the great things that Elks do!

The ENF awards Impact Grants to help Lodges significantly address unmet needs in Elks communities. Impact Grants are competitive grants worth up to $10,000 and are open to all Lodges. To find out more about Impact Grants, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Oakmont, Pa., Lodge No. 1668

Play ball! Thanks to an Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant, members of Oakmont, Pa., Lodge No. 1668, supported the Riverview Athletic Association by funding a portable PA system that can be used for indoor and outdoor kids’ sporting events. Elks look forward to cheering on local student athletes to victory!

The ENF awards $2,000 Gratitude Grants to Lodges to directly address local needs. Lodges are eligible to apply for Gratitude Grants after meeting the GER’s per-capita goal. To find out more about Gratitude Grants, visit www.elks.org/enf/community

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Mountain Home, Ark., Lodge No. 1714

Mountain Home, Ark., Lodge No. 1714 used its Gratitude Grant to help kids in need. Elks contacted teachers, counselors and nurses at local schools to see what students lacked. They then shopped for everything from school supplies to clothes and shoes, so the schools could distribute the materials to any child who could use them.

The ENF awards Gratitude Grants to Lodges to directly address local needs. Lodges are eligible to apply for Gratitude Grants after meeting the GER’s per-capita goal. To find out more about Gratitude Grants, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Convention Truck is Coming!

By Communications Specialist Kristen Scaletta

It’s summertime at the Elks National Foundation, which can only mean one thing. Convention is coming!

Each year, the Elks hold a national convention where members from across the country gather and attend seminars and meetings, check out one another’s booths, and connect with other members. The Elks National Foundation participates by holding different seminars to share our work and by maintaining a booth in the Convention Center, where visitors can come to learn more about our programs. Check out our website for a list of our Convention events.

This year, the Elks National Convention will be in Phoenix, Ariz., from July 17 to 21. You may think that’s a while from now, but under the guidance of Development Manager Kate Keating Edsey, we’ve been planning for this year’s Convention since last fall.

Each year before Convention, a truck leaves from the Elks headquarters, where our offices are housed, carrying all the items we’ll need for the week. As you may guess, we have thousands of brochures, newsletters, stories on our programs participants, recognition items and other promotional materials (such as much needed fans) to pack up and send to Phoenix.

Right now, we are busy gathering these materials, so many of our offices are piled high with boxes. We’re slowly checking items off of our packing list, which includes everything from signs to sombreros (more on that later).

The truck leaves for Phoenix next week, and we can’t wait to follow it shortly!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Sand Springs, Okla., Lodge No. 2553


Sand Springs, Okla., Lodge No. 2553 used its Gratitude Grant to help a local therapeutic riding center. Here, Matthew, a child with disabilities, is learning to ride thanks to the Lodge’s donation. Elks keep in touch with the center, which reports that Matthew’s horsemanship and confidence have improved greatly since he began a few months ago.

The ENF awards $2,000 Gratitude Grants to Lodges to directly address local needs. Lodges are eligible to apply for Gratitude Grants after meeting the GER’s per-capita goal. To find out more about Gratitude Grants, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Rancho Cordova, Calif., Lodge No. 2484

As part of the Catch the Spirit Impact Grant Project, Rancho Cordova, Calif., Lodge No. 2484 recently hosted a Welcome Home spaghetti dinner for about 200 California National Guard soldiers and their families. These soldiers recently returned from Afghanistan, where they spent the past year performing Medical Evacuation duties for wounded soldiers. Here, Project Manager Bob Burns Sr. (left) and ER Dave Ferguson (right) pose with a few of their guests.

The ENF awards Impact Grants to help Lodges significantly address unmet needs in Elks communities. Impact Grants are competitive grants worth up to $10,000 and are open to all Lodges. To find out more about Impact Grants, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Santa Cruz, Calif., Lodge No. 824


Summer is in full swing for Santa Cruz, Calif., Lodge No. 824! The Lodge used its Promise Grant to hold a youth golf camp. Watch this video to see photos of the happy golfers.

The ENF awards Promise Grants worth up to $2,000 to the first 500 Lodges that pledge to host an event that helps build the character and competence of youth in their community. To find out more about Promise Grants, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Midwest City, Okla., Lodge No. 1890

Midwest City, Okla., Lodge No. 1890 teamed up with the city and a local golf course and used its Promise Grant to host the first annual “Youth Golf Skills Challenge.” Boys and Girls aged 8 to 14 took on the Lodge’s challenge and put their golf skills to the test. After the competition, all participants and their families were treated to awards banquet. The Lodge was recognized by the city for the successful event, and the mayor already offered his support for next year! 

The ENF awards Promise Grants to the first 500 Lodges that pledge to host an event that helps build the character and competence of youth in their community. To find out more about these $2,000 grants, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Typical Day?

By Development Manager Kate Keating Edsey


ENF Chair Carolyn Shupe hands out cookies at Santa Barbara,
Calif., Lodge No. 613’s Bring a Veteran to Lunch event.
A day in the life of an ENF Chair. That was my original topic when I sat down to blog about our ENF volunteers. However, I quickly realized that there is no typical day for an ENF Chair.

As ENF representatives in their Lodge, district and or state, ENF Chairs wear many hats—they are at times promoters, cheerleaders, writers, bookkeepers, event planners or collection agents. No matter what hat they are wearing at any given time, ENF Chairs keep the ENF mission front and center. The work they do, raising funds for the ENF and spreading the word about the good works of the Foundation, helps Elks build stronger communities.

That’s a pretty great job to have. Except we all know that this is not a job to ENF Chairs. As volunteers, ENF Chairs dedicate their time, talent and treasure without compensation. They do what they do out of the goodness of their heart, and because they believe in the ENF.

A day in my life as ENF Development Manager? Every day, I have the good fortune to speak with Chairs across the country about what the ENF means to them and the impact of ENF funding in their community. Also, a pretty great job to have!

Thank you to the more than 2,000 ENF Chairs who will commit to making 2011-12 another record-breaking year. We appreciate your hard work and continued support, every day.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Elks Community Builder of the Week

New Albany, Ind., Lodge No. 270

New Albany, Ind., Lodge No. 270 helps local police help local kids. Elks used their $1,000 Gratitude Grant plus an additional $1,000 in Lodge funds to enhance the D.A.R.E. Program, helping kids to make healthy choices.

The ENF awards Gratitude Grants to Lodges to directly address local needs. Lodges are eligible to apply for Gratitude Grants after meeting the GER’s per-capita goal. In 2011-12, these grants are worth $2,000. To find out more about Gratitude Grants, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.   

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Little River, S.C., Lodge No. 2840

Little River, S.C., Lodge No. 2840 throws some big parties. The Lodge used its Promise Grant to make sure local children in need could celebrate holidays all year round. The Elks started with a Halloween party, and continued with two Christmas celebrations, a Valentine’s Day dance, and an Easter party. Above, the race is on as the children begin the Easter egg hunt.

The ENF awards Promise Grants to the first 500 Lodges that pledge to host an event that helps build the character and competence of youth in their community. To find out more about Promise Grants and to download an application, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Dribble, Dribble, Swoosh—Repeat 1,562 times.

By Programs Relationship Associate Anne Shields
Practicing at the Basketball Hall of Fame.
I attended my first National Hoop Shoot Finals on Saturday, April 30, and what a contest it was! I had heard for weeks how dedicated the contestants were and how much they practiced, but all the talk didn’t prepare me for what I saw on Saturday. Kids ages 8 to 13 were sinking free throws better than NBA players. It was my job to enter scores online for the up-to-the-minute shot tracker. I found myself mesmerized by the consecutive sunk shots, so much so that it was a challenge to stay focused on my job. (Don’t worry though, I entered all the correct scores for those of you who followed along at home on Saturday).

Henry Westphal shows off his
first place trophy!
After watching all 72 contestants step to the line, it was time for a shoot-off between Henry Westphal from Portland, Maine, Lodge No. 188 and Jerrick Rydbom from Blairsville, Pa., Lodge No. 406. The two were competing for the prestigious Getty Powell Award for best overall shooter among the boys. Having both sunk 25 out of 25 during the contest, the race was on for best shooter!

Now, I had heard shoot-offs were exciting, but this was something. The whole gym was silent as Henry and Jerrick completed a tense eight rounds. Ultimately, Henry won the shoot-off, but they are both winners in my eyes for having sunk so many free throws (and looking calm while doing it!).

While the boys were having their shoot-off, Kendal Cloninger from Gastonia, N.C., Lodge No. 1644, was enjoying her title as the girl’s Getty Powell Award winner after shooting a perfect 25 out of 25. Her perfect score didn’t surprise me, though. Every time Kendal stepped up to the line, I knew her shot would go in. Her poise, confidence, and follow through were amazing.

Kendal relaxes after scoring a perfect 25 out of 25.
After hearing about the National Hoop Shoot Finals for almost two years, being at the actual contest far exceeded my expectations. From Harika to Destiny, Logan to Conner, every shooter amazed me and I’m excited to see where they will go in the future!

Every parent, contestant, and volunteer I met during the weekend was nicer than could be and I am so grateful I got to see such a wonderful program in action. As I sat at the banquet on Saturday night looking at the kids’ smiles and their proud parents, I was reminded of how much the Elks do to empower America’s youth.  

In 2011-12, the Elks National Foundation allocated $809,275 to fund the Elks National Hoop Shoot Free Throw Program. For more information on the Hoop Shoot, visit www.elks.org/hoopshoot.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Mid-Westchester, N.Y., Lodge No. 535

Mid-Westchester, N.Y., Lodge No. 535 used its Promise Grant to sponsor a Pine Wood Derby for local Cub Scouts. Elks helped organize the event, hosted it at the Lodge, bought trophies for the winners and provided food and beverages for the racers and their crews. One hundred and fifty scouts participated in the derby, and winners advanced to the district runoff. Read the full story here.

The ENF awards Promise Grants to the first 500 Lodges that pledge to host an event that helps build the character and competence of youth in their community. To find out more about Promise Grants, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Calabash, N.C., Lodge No. 2679

Picasso in suspenders! Joe Adams of Calabash, N.C., Lodge No. 2679 puts in some volunteer time for his Lodge’s Impact Grant project. Calabash partners with two nearby Lodges to run its Children’s Shelter Improvement Project.  The Lodge is renovating the children’s area in the shelter so residents’ children can have a safe place to play and learn.

The ENF awards Impact Grants to help Lodges significantly address unmet needs in Elks communities. Impact Grants are competitive grants worth up to $10,000 and are open to all Lodges. To find out more about Impact Grants, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Southwest Region Doesn’t Miss

By Communications Specialist Kristen Scaletta

Today, our office is busy with last minute preparations for the Hoop Shoot National Finals, which take place this Saturday in Springfield, Mass. I’m looking forward to leaving for my third National Hoop Shoot competition tomorrow morning. This year, I’m anticipating the contest even more, since I had the privilege to attend the Southwest Regional Hoop Shoot contest last month, so I already know some of the finalists.

Thanks to Regional Director Jud Good and his wife Deb, Development Manager Kate Keating Edsey and I were able to travel to Dallas, Texas, to experience the regional contest in person.

From the moment we arrived at the hotel for registration, we knew the contest would be big. When we pulled up, flags representing each state in the region greeted us at the doorway. Upon entering, we saw a table lined with trophies that were taller than most of the contestants. All of the Elks on Jud’s Hoop Shoot team gave us a warm welcome, and we immediately felt like we were part of the team.

Friday night, we attended the Hoop Shoot social, where we got to meet each of the contestants, enjoy a homemade meal, and witness the shooting order selection.

In case you’ve never been to a Hoop Shoot, it’s a free throw contest for kids ages 8 to 13. Contestants in each division line up to try to make the most out of 25 free throws. So as you can imagine, shooting order is a big deal. Different regional finalists have different preferences. Some like to go first to get it over with, and not have the pressure of watching everyone else shoot. Some prefer last, so they know how many shots they need to make.

At the Southwest Regional contest, to determine the shooting order, contestants in each division came to the stage separately, and stood on top of a number, which was randomly placed face down, so they couldn’t see. They traded spots until they were happy with the number they stood on. Then, on the count of three, they all picked up their signs and saw their shooting position. When they showed family and friends in the audience, everyone cheered. What a fun way to kickoff the contest!

The good energy of the social carried right into the actual contest. A local high school drum line played during warm ups at the gym, and each contestant was recognized as he or she ran through the drum line to begin the contest. The gym fell silent when the shooting started. I’m consistently amazed at how much these contestants practice, and how infrequently they miss. It’s also fun to watch each contestant’s technique. After the contest, I felt I saw every approach, from dribbling twice, spinning the ball and shooting, to never letting the ball hit the floor. It’s also great to see all of the good sportsmanship the contestants show. They really bond during the contest, and cheer for one another just as much as they’re rooting for themselves.

After the last shoot-out ended, the contestants took the last bus back to the hotel. When they got off, they ran through a line of family and friends cheering for them and wishing them well.

Even though there were no more free throws, the fun wasn’t over. That evening, there was a wonderful banquet where each contestant was recognized and received an award. The nervous energy from that morning turned into pure excitement, as contestants celebrated their victories, spent more time with one another, and learned more about the Elks and other Elks programs, such as the Drug Awareness Program. After eating their fill of chicken fingers and pledging to say no to drugs, the evening ended with a raffle, where contestants won even more prizes.

Overall, Kate and I had a fantastic time in Dallas. Big thanks to Jud, Deb and the Southwest Regional Hoop Shoot Team for your Texas hospitality!

The Hoop Shoot National Finals are in Springfield, Mass., on Saturday, April 30. If you can’t make it to the finals, you can follow the action from home using our online shot tracker. Visit www.elks.org/hoopshoot for regional results and other Hoop Shoot stories.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Walterboro, S.C., Lodge No. 1988

Walterboro, S.C., Lodge No. 1988 used its Gratitude Grant to partner with a local school for kids with disabilities. The Lodge purchased adaptive playground equipment, including swings, picnic tables and a playhouse. Above, Lodge members pose with the kids, who are thankful for the Elks’ serious commitment to playing around.

The ENF awards Gratitude Grants to Lodges to directly address local needs. Lodges are eligible to apply for Gratitude Grants after meeting the GER’s per-capita goal. To find out more about Gratitude Grants, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.   

Friday, April 15, 2011

Forecast: April Scholars

By Programs Relationship Associate Anne Shields

Birds chirping. Tulips blooming. Sun shining. Elks scholars serving. Spring is here and Elks scholars are out in full force serving their communities as part of the Elks Scholar Month of Service.

We’ve been promoting the Elks Scholar Month of Service since January, when the snow drifts were up to our office windows, so it’s hard to believe April actually arrived and with it, Elks scholar volunteers.

Now we are in the midst of the Elks Scholar Month of Service, and we’ve seen a great response from Elks scholars across the country (which is no surprise, since Elks scholars are dedicated to service).

So far this month, Elks scholars have served their communities in a variety of ways. Erika Barger, an Elks scholar alum, kayaked out to an island to pick up litter along the Shell Key Preserve beach near St. Petersburg, Fla. A group of seven Elks scholars at Brigham Young University came together to serve at Hoofbeats to Healing, an organization that provides therapeutic horseback riding for children with autism. Elks scholar alum Brennan Takayama hit the streets of Honolulu, Hawaii to hand out sandwiches and personal care items to the homeless community, along with notes of ‘aloha’ or love. Notre Dame Elks scholars sorted donated clothes at the Center for the Homeless (click here for a video). And, Laura Pennington, an Elks scholar alum, is using the entire month of April to collect donated clothing for Vietnam veterans.

That’s a lot of Elks scholar service, and there’s more to come!

From Philadelphia to San Francisco, Elks scholars are showing their continued dedication to their communities and showcasing what it means to be an Elks scholar.

This was just a sampling of Elks scholar service projects. You can read about all the projects here. Continue to check back throughout April as more Elks scholars complete service projects. Here at the office, we love receiving Elks scholar service photos and videos, and we can’t wait to see what other service stories April brings!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Livermore-Pleasanton, Calif., Lodge No. 2117

Livermore-Pleasanton, Calif., Lodge No. 2117 used its Promise Grant to hold a free children’s carnival! At the carnival, kids played games like mini golf, fish bowl toss, and Hoop Shoot practice. Local police stopped by to talk about the dangers of drug and alcohol use and abuse,  and the fire department gave tours of their fire truck. Above, an Elks member a local clown puts the finishing touches on an attendee’s face paint.

The ENF awards Promise Grants to the first 500 Lodges that pledge to host an event that helps build the character and competence of youth in their community. To find out more about Promise Grants and to download an application, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.