Skip to main content

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.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

What I'll Remember Most

by Cullen Edens
2016 Most Valuable Student Scholar Cullen, along with 19 other scholars, came together to serve the San Antonio community in the name of the Elks from June 26 to June 29. These 20 scholars then joined 130 of their fellow scholars for the 150 for 150 Service and Celebration Weekend, where all 150 scholars worked together to serve the city of San Antonio from June 29 through July 2. 



My name is Cullen Edens and I am a junior at East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma where I am majoring in Accounting. When I was selected as an Elks Most Valuable Student scholar, I simply thought I would collect my award and move on with my college education. I had no idea the impact that the Elks National Foundation would have on my life.
In late June, I traveled to San Antonio not knowing that this service trip would transform the way I viewed the communities around me. Arriving at Trinity University, I met 19 other Elks scholars from across the country from Maine to California. We instan…

Elks National Convention: Take One

by Taylor Odisho
Communications Assistant
It’s taken an entire week to fully digest everything I experienced at my first Elks National Convention, and I think I can finally do justice in putting pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, in sharing them.

I started working as the Communications Assistant at the Elks National Foundation in October of last year. In just nine months, I’ve been exposed to stories, people and moments, and I’ve been working hard to convey these interactions in an honest, interesting light that resonates with our audience.

But it wasn’t until I shook hands with “Crazy Richard” Clayton and his wife; sat down with Nester Tan, a platinum donor with the ENF; or spoke with many of the Elks I’ve been writing about these past several months that everything finally clicked.

There’s a scientific way to say this, but I’m a writer, so I’ll use words. You can study a topic for hours and hours, but you’ll never be able to memorize what you’re reading until you can connect it to …

Because They're Elks

by Cecily Froerer 2014 Most Valuable Student Scholar
My name is Cecily Froerer. I’m a junior at Utah State University where I’m studying Communicative Disorders and minoring in American Sign Language. Four years ago, I was a high school senior with two goals. First, obtain a college degree. Second, do so without any form of student loans. The second was a seemingly unattainable goal.

By some stroke of luck, I found myself in my high school’s office when two men from the local Elks Lodge shared information about the Most Valuable Student scholarship. As I continued about my week, I kept thinking about that scholarship. It was stuck in my mind. Eventually, I applied. Maybe, I would be able to get a little money for college from this. I couldn’t have dreamed what was about to happen.

The next year was a whirlwind of surprises. I watched as my scholarship application passed through the Lodge, to the district, and on to the state level! I was incredibly grateful, but I was also fairly confi…