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

Serving by the Blue Ridge Mountains

by Gabriella Haire 2015 Most Valuable Student Scholar
My name is Gabriella Haire and I am a junior studying biomedical engineering at the University of Minnesota. Beyond dreaming up medical innovations, I enjoy volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House, training for cross country ski races, and exploring new cities one ice cream shop at a time.

Following a typical track practice in March 2015, I received an atypical email. It was an invitation to the Elks Most Valuable Student Leadership Weekend and the promise of an Elks National Foundation scholarship. I was elated as I celebrated in the locker room, but I didn’t fully realize how that email and the Leadership Weekend were just the beginning of my relationship with the Elks.
After a physics lecture in November 2015, I received an email confirming my acceptance to the Winter Elks Scholar Service Trip in Oakland, California. I was eager to connect with Elks scholars for a whole week, rather than just a weekend. As it turned out, a week w…

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…

Show Me the Heat

by Billy Donnelly Youth Programs Associate
While low temperatures afflict most of the United States in January and February, things are really starting to heat up for the Hoop Shoot. In gyms all across the country, Hoop Shoot contestants have been competing in state contests--another stop on the road to Chicago.
This year I had the privilege of attending the Missouri State Hoop Shoot contest, just outside of St. Louis. Randy Eaton has been the Show-Me State’s Director for more than 30 years, but after all that time, you can tell he has not lost his fire and passion for the program.
I left a looming snow storm in Chicago, happily heading south to help out with Randy’s event. It didn’t take long after my arrival before we could start to get to work. The hotel was practically ready to go—a Holiday Inn with an arcade and a large indoor pool meant that the 48 best free-throw shooters in Missouri weren’t going to have to go far to have some fun.
Randy took me to go help set up for the Awar…