Skip to main content

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.

Comments

Labels

Show more

Popular posts from this blog

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…

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…

Katie Gets Acquainted with the ENF

by Katie Graves
Lodge Grants Programs Coordinator
Hello! My name is Katie Graves, and I am excited to be one of the new Programs Coordinators in the Community Investments Program office.

I graduated from Valparaiso University with a degree in English and Secondary Education with a minor in Social Work in December 2018. I spent the next six months building and growing my small online vintage clothing business, working retail at a Swedish furniture store (any guesses?), and searching for a purposeful job that I could fall in love with that would also allow me to move from southeastern Wisconsin to Chicago. When I landed the Programs Coordinator position at the Elks National Foundation, I was ecstatic to begin this journey both professionally and personally. I was moving to my dream city, and I was going to be doing a job with purpose focused on helping passionate groups of wonderful Elks do good in their communities with CIP grants.

I became a part of the ENF family at an exciting time of…