Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The 12 Days of ENF

By 2013 Most Valuable Student scholar and Elks Scholar Advisory Board member Nate Baker 

Nate Baker, 2013 MVS scholar sponsored by Tyrone, Pa., Lodge No. 212, is the freshman representative on the Elks Scholar Advisory Board and new to college life. Throughout his first year of college, we’ll be following Nate through monthly blog posts. Check back each month to see what new adventures Nate encounters during this first year at Cornell!

Finals are done, grades are in, and the semester is over. If you've been keeping up with me, my extracurricular endeavors, sports, two jobs, social life, and, oh yeah, that Cornell curriculum have been keeping me more than busy. Coming home was bittersweet. I said goodbye to all the incredible experiences and opportunities up on the hill, but welcomed my family, girlfriend, my new kitten, old friends, and the Christmas season back into my life. So, for my last post of 2013, I thought I'd leave readers with something a bit lighter.

Without further ado, I present you with The 12 Days of Christmas, an ENF version.

On the 12th day of Christmas, the ENF gave to me:

12 months of service,
11 states' stickers
10 Awesome stories
9 Youth programs
8 Scholars Advising
7 Trustees Leading
6 Hoop Shoot Winners
5 Ways to Give
4 Years in school
3 Cool pens
2 Top Awards
And a loving, caring Elks family!!

And for the last time in 2013, Happy Holidays to the Elks and let's have an even better 2014!!

Nate Baker
Freshman Elks Scholar Advisory Board Representative
2013 Most Valuable Student Scholar
Cornell University

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Viera, Fla., Lodge No. 2817


While elves in Santa’s workshop build toys, Santa’s elves from Viera, Fla., Lodge No. 2817 spread Christmas spirit to community members in need. Using an Elks National Foundation Promise Grant, the Viera Elks partnered with Grandparents Raising Grandchildren to hold a Christmas party for 52 children and their grandparents. The party—full of food, face painting, crafts and fellowship—was fun for all ages.


The children had the chance to meet the Elks’ special guest—Santa Claus! After telling Santa their Christmas lists, each child received a gift. Their grandparents’ Christmas wishes came true too—they received meals to take home, family time, and new friends in the Elks.

“My granddaughters and I would like to thank you for everything,” says a grandmother who benefitted from the Promise Grant. “If we didn’t receive help from the Elks, my granddaughters wouldn’t have had any gifts this Christmas.”

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 local youth. To find out more about Promise Grants and the Community Investments Program, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Putnam, Conn., Lodge No. 574

From roasted turkey to fruitcake, Christmas is often celebrated by sharing meals with loved ones. Elks look out for those in need to ensure that all community members have enough to eat while celebrating the season.

Using an Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant, Elks from Putnam, Conn., Lodge No. 574, purchased, packed and delivered meals to 93 families, providing them with fresh food and the best Christmas gift of all—the knowledge they have the support of the Elks.


This Beacon Grant project allows the Lodge to connect with other community organizations. To determine those in need, Elks partnered with the Housing Authority and local schools. Elks also work closely with a Putnam grocery store, which provides the food and helps prepare it for delivery.

“We served 390 people turkey, sides, fresh veggies, fruit, dessert and more,” says ENF Grant Project Manager Lysa Molnar. “Our community partners rely on the Elks to help those in need each year.”

Through Beacon Grants, the Elks National Foundation gives Lodges the opportunity to develop an ongoing, charitable, Elks-driven community project. These $2,000 grants are available to all Lodges. To find out more about Beacon Grants and the Community Investments Program, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Meet the ENF Staff

Kate Keating Edsey
Development Manager

How long have you worked at the ENF?
I’ve been with the ENF for just over 5 years.

What projects are you/your department working on right now?
We’re in the middle of planning for the 2014-15 fiscal year, which means a lot of meetings and budgeting. In
Kate shows off posters from previous National Convention
ENF Major Donor events. What will the theme be in 2014?
addition to planning for the Development department, I’m also managing the logistics for upcoming ENF events. The biggest thing on my to-do list right now is planning for the ENF presence at the 2014 Elks National Convention—visit our new and improved ENF booth in New Orleans!

What’s your favorite part of working at the ENF?
Working with the ENF Fundraising Chairs is the best thing about my role at the ENF. The passion and commitment these volunteers have for the ENF and their community is inspiring.

Describe your average day at the ENF.
I don’t think there is an average day at ENF! Typically my day is spent “changing hats” between checking in every morning with my Fundraising team colleague, Lindsay Hurth, assisting ENF Fundraising Chairs, and managing projects within our Development Plan. I’m also checking in regularly on our upcoming events—the Most Valuable Student Interview Weekend in Chicago and the Elks Hoop Shoot National Finals in Springfield, Mass.—which require a lot of collaboration with key programs staff.

What’s on your Christmas list this year?
Christmas came early in my house—all I wanted was a trip to the 2014 Rose Bowl for my Michigan State University Spartans. Go Green!

What’s one thing about you that might surprise people?
I’ve been to more countries that states. Working for the ENF has taken me around the country, so that will change soon when I surpass twenty states. 

What TV show do you never miss?
Homeland—it’s the best show on television. The season just ended though, so I’ll need to find something else to watch on Sunday nights this winter. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Elks Community Builder of the Week

De Soto, Mo., Lodge No. 689


What’s Santa’s favorite breakfast cereal? Frosted Flakes!

Using an Elks National Foundation Promise Grant, Elks from De Soto, Mo., Lodge No. 689 hosted Christmas breakfast for community members with special needs. Even though Frosted Flakes wasn’t on the menu, Santa still came to celebrate, play games, and give gifts to each guest.

The breakfast allowed the Lodge to connect with those in need in the community and share the gift of friendship.

“We were able to increase awareness about the good things the Lodge does for the community throughout the year thanks to the Promise Grant,” says ENF Grant Project Manager Mike Thurmond.

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 local youth. To find out more about Promise Grants and the Community Investments Program, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.

Monday, December 9, 2013

All Mocking Aside...

By 2013 Most Valuable Student scholar and Elks Scholar Advisory Board member Nate Baker 

Nate Baker, 2013 MVS scholar sponsored by Tyrone, Pa., Lodge No. 212, is the freshman representative on the Elks Scholar Advisory Board and new to college life. Throughout his first year of college, we’ll be following Nate through monthly blog posts. Check back each month to see what new adventures Nate encounters during this first year at Cornell!

Order in the Cornell court!
I like to act like someone I’m not. Someone quite possibly guilty of a horrible crime. Arguing with overzealous attorneys is my idea of a good time. If I were to get selected for jury duty, I’d probably be pretty pleased. I'm not some weird, punishment-loving person (well, I do go to Cornell...), I just love mock trial!

Over the past month, I’ve spent more time than I’d like to admit reading affidavits, revising direct examinations, and listening to opening/closing statements. I’ve been in a suit so much that you’d think I was a walking Brooks Brothers advertisement. I’ve skipped dinner, told friends “another time,” stayed up way past my bedtime, and forwent Halloween (my favorite holiday) so that I could talk about fake people's fake problems in their fake world. But to my teammates, mockers across America, and me, it’s all very real. We signed up for the sweaty palms and way-too-long weekends voluntarily. And, surprisingly, we have a blast doing it.

This fall, our team went to two invitational tournaments at Columbia University and Brandeis University.

Nate wakes up bright and early to prepare
for a day in court.
Columbia commenced with a bus ride into the city. After schlepping our bags through the streets, we arrived at a teammate’s apartment where we would be staying for the weekend. Late nights of practicing and “team bonding” melded into bright and early mornings hailing a cab from the Upper East Side to Columbia’s campus. Our rounds sped by as we patched our arguments between trials. Columbia's tournament was a learning experience for us new kids on the block, and gave us something to build on with advice from the judges.

The turn-around to our next tournament was quick; just one week. So we buckled down and sold our souls
to the law school. And completely changed everything that I had memorized about my character, as is customary in mock trial.

We roadtripped it up to Boston for Brandeis with experience on our side. We must have learned something, for we exited the bracket with a 7-1 record! At the awards ceremony, we were saddened to find out that we tied for first place, but received second due to a technicality in scoring. Nevertheless, we returned home with the radio blaring and our pride well-intact.

Nate and his mock trial team show off
their well-deserved trophy!
All of that preparation and stress for two weekends of competition. Now that the invitational season is over, we can all let out a collective sigh. With relatively so much more time on my hands, I felt like a void had been left in my life. Looking back, I ask myself, why did I do that? Why did I spend so much time secluded from real life in cramped classrooms? The glory? I can assure you there is zero glory in mock trial. In reality, I did it for the snarky giggles that I can share with my teammates about what opposing council is wearing. I did it for the stories about how that attorney tried to impeach me, but looked like an idiot scrambling though exhibits and decided to just give up. I did it for the team dinners and backseat sing-alongs. I did it for the people and the friendships.

Mock trial has been a part of me since high school. I was on the fence about whether or not to even try out for the team once I got to college. In retrospect, I’m glad I went for it and devoted so much time to this organization. I've had some of my best experiences and made some of my best friends through mock trial so far in my short undergraduate career.

Here’s my monthly (cheesy) advice to you, dear reader: The next time that someone tries to badger you into coming to watch them argue a fake case, don’t object. The evidence goes to show that you might “witness” something surprisingly interesting.

Thanks!

Nate Baker
Freshman Elks Scholar Advisory Board Representative
2013 Most Valuable Student Scholar
Cornell University

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Meet the ENF Staff

Anne Stretz
Programs Relationship Associate
Scholarships

Anne stays calm and collected even as
the MVS scholarship application deadline nears!
How long have you worked at the ENF?
I’ve worked at the ENF for just over four years.

What projects are you/your department working on right now?

The Most Valuable Student scholarship application deadline is fast approaching on December 6, so Ashley and I are very busy fielding calls and emails from applicants. When the phone stops ringing, we are spending time educating Scholarship Chairs about our new MVS Judging Dashboard. I’ve also been connecting Elks scholars with their local Lodges and communicating with scholars in Bloomington, Indiana, Corvallis, Oregon, and right here in Chicago about volunteer opportunities and meet-ups happening at their local Elks Lodge.

What’s your favorite part of working at the ENF?
Every day I continue to be more and more impressed by Elks scholars. As I read their applications when they are just starting on their college journey, they amaze me! But then, they continue to impress me throughout college with their dedication to academics, service, and making the most of college. They are some of the kindest, nicest people and their dedication to their communities is amazing. I also love the beautiful building we work in!

Describe your average day at the ENF.
Whether I’m hosting a webinar for Scholarship Chairs, sending cards to freshmen Elks scholars, or posting a photo to Instagram, every day is busy! I usually start my day answering emails from scholars and Scholarship Chairs. I’m often emailing with Elks scholars and informing them of opportunities about how to connect with their local Elks Lodges. I’ll usually attend a meeting about something like planning the next issue of Elks Scholar Connect, our monthly e-newsletter, or planning the upcoming MVS Leadership Weekend. And soon we’ll start planning for the Elks Scholar Advisory Board meeting during the Elks National Convention in New Orleans. I love seeing the Scholar Advisory Board and catching up with them!

What are you thankful for this month?
I am thankful for my family! I got married in August (some of you may know me as Anne Shields), so I’m looking forward to celebrating the holidays together with our families. 

What’s one thing about you that might surprise people?
I want to visit all 50 state capitol buildings. I’m not very close to reaching all 50 right now, but hope to someday! I love the buildings and learning a little about each state.

What TV show do you never miss?
I recently watched all of the House of Cards series, and I can’t wait for it to return. I love any political drama!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Meet the ENF Staff

Paula Lukos
Donor Services Coordinator

Did Paula's Donald Duck impressions inspire her
desk decor, or did her desk decor inspire her
Donald Duck impressions?

How long have you worked at the ENF?
Going on 14 years this January 2014.

What projects are you/your department working on right now?
Processing donations in a timely and accurate manner, and working on mailings.

What’s your favorite part of working at the ENF?
Working with wonderful and hardworking co-workers.

Describe your average day at the ENF.
Most of the day is spent processing donations that come in. From creating and researching accounts to posting the money to the accounts and having it all balance.

What are you thankful for this month?
To have a job that I truly enjoy.

What’s one thing about you that might surprise people?I can do impressions—Donald Duck and James Cagney are a couple.

If you could meet anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
The person I would like to meet most would be Abraham Lincoln. He was a self-taught man—hardworking, honest, insightful and wise. I believe many of his characteristics are admirable and should be emulated today.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Newport, Vt., Lodge No. 2155

This year, community members in need from Orleans, Vt. have so much to be thankful for. They’re thankful for support from friends and family, food and fellowship on holidays, and—because of the Elks—a stronger community.

Using an Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant, Newport, Vt., Lodge No. 2155 partnered with the Unitarian Universalist Church of Derby, Vt. and the Area Agency on Aging to hold a Thanksgiving dinner at the Lodge for more than 500 people in need.

Elks invited local groups to come together and ensure a successful dinner. Local businesses grew or donated most of the food. This included potatoes—farmed in Stanstead, Quebec—and pies, baked by the culinary class at North Country High School.

Elks cooked the Thanksgiving meal for their guests and delivered more than 175 meals to homebound community members. Boy Scouts served the turkey dinner, local bands entertained the crowd, and guests enjoyed the company of the Elks and the community.

“The community support was an incredible outpouring,” says Area Agency on Aging Executive Director Ken Gordon. “It was our largest event to date, and it was all done by dedicated volunteers and community members.”

Through Beacon Grants, the Elks National Foundation gives Lodges the opportunity to develop an ongoing, charitable, Elks-driven community project. These $2,000 grants are available to all Lodges. To find out more about Beacon Grants and the Community Investments Program, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

One Scholarship, Lots of Impact

By 2011 Most Valuable Student scholar Dunae Crenwelge

Dunae Crenwelge, a 2011 Most Valuable Student scholar sponsored by Kerrville, Texas, Lodge No. 2081, had the opportunity to connect with Elks members at the Texas State Elks Convention on October 19, 2013. Dunae attended the convention with her MVS Named Scholarship Donors Shan and Mike Clark. Read her recap of the experience.

Last weekend, I found myself speaking in front of a crowd of Elks about how my Most Valuable Student scholarship has helped me throughout my collegiate career.

I’m a 2011 recipient of the Emma Whaley Byars Memorial Most Valuable Student Scholarship sponsored by Michael and Shan Clark. Over the course of five semesters at Texas A&M University, this scholarship has really proved its value.
Dunae speaks on her experience as an Elks scholar.
I was asked to speak at the 2013 Texas Elks State Convention by Danny Holman, TESA Youth Activities Chairman, who said that the Elks don’t often have the opportunity to hear from scholars so near the conclusion of their education—I’ll be graduating with a degree in communication and minors in history and comparative cultural studies in May.

I was at the convention only for a few hours, but I could tell that the Elks are extremely passionate about supporting education and veterans. A topic that warranted constant address, however, was that the Elks are losing members as Lodges across the U.S. close each year—leading to the growing question of how the Elks will have the numbers and financials to support their work.

The Elks may face a challenge, but in the face of this challenge, it’s important to reflect on the impact the organization makes every year in awarding 500 scholarships to the best high school seniors in the country. It’s also important to remember that these MVS scholarships continue to have an impact for students beyond being awarded—and this is the point I wished to make to the audience.

The MVS scholarship has been tremendously beneficial to my college education. Not only has it provided crucial financial assistance, but it has also motivated me to perform well academically. I hold a 4.0 at Texas A&M, and in part this has to do with not wanting to disappoint the donors funding my education.

Texas A&M is without a doubt one of the nation’s top public and research universities (and arguably the best public university in Texas…Gig ’Em!), and any graduate will agree that it is more than a school—it’s an experience.  I’m able to experience tradition, spirit, leadership, challenges, and the thrill of football games (a.k.a. Johnny Manziel)—all with the help of the Elks.

Dunae (center) met many Elks,
including her MVS
Named Scholarship donors
Mike and Shan (left) Clark
The best part of the TESA Convention was that I was able to meet my MVS Named Scholarship sponsors, Mike and Shan Clark, after having communicated with them regularly via email. It was nice to finally put faces to names! I felt that it was important to thank them in person for the experiences and opportunities they’ve provided me through this scholarship.

As I was preparing for the convention, I found the note I wrote to the Elks National Foundation upon being informed of my MVS scholarship in April 2011. I think it best sums up what this scholarship meant, and still means, to me:

“While I have received scholarships from other donors, this scholarship gives me the biggest sense of pride and is definitely the most meaningful. As a nationally-based award, this scholarship recognizes my accomplishments on the highest level and is a large source of motivation for me. It has awarded me confidence along with financial assistance.”

Thank you, Elks, for all that you do.

Dunae Crenwelge
2011 MVS Scholar

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Meet the ENF Staff

Jon Flaherty
Donor Services Associate

The Chicago Cubs may have had another losing season,
but Jon knows that, thanks to generous donors,
the ENF will always have a winning season!
How long have you worked at the ENF?
I’ve been at the ENF for a little more than 4 years. I started out as the Donor Services Assistant in July of 2009, and since then moved into my current role as the Donor Services Associate.
  
What projects are you/your department working on right now?
The Donor Services Department is working on our end of the month procedures. Once our team processes all of the donations we receive within one month, we work on updating our online reports for ENF chairs like the Lodge Per-Capita totals, the Chair Challenge standings, the online record of donations report, and many others. We also print and mail reports out to ENF Chairs, PGERs, and State Sponsors.
    
What’s your favorite part of working at the ENF?
I work closely with processing ENF donations, and I enjoy seeing just how generous Elks truly are and how they continue to be year after year. It’s a great reminder that there are people out there who do care about making our world a better place, and as long as Elks are willing to share what they have, then I’m happy to help play a role in making our communities stronger.

Describe your average day at the ENF.
My average day depends on what day of the week it is since my department has a structured timeline for weekly tasks. So let’s pick a day. My Thursday mornings usually start out with communicating with donors and ENF volunteers through email. Once the correspondence is caught up, I move on to processing workplace giving donations like payroll gifts, matching gifts and volunteer grants. Part of this process involves navigating to various company websites in order to confirm their employee donations or volunteer hours. In the afternoon, I handle processing many of the Online Remittances that arrive in our office. These new forms allow us to import donations into our database, making the process much more time efficient. I also spend some time processing regular donations, updating our donor records with new addresses and Lodge numbers, and answering phone calls from donors and ENF Chairs.
    
What are you thankful for this month?
I’m thankful for a growing family (a new nephew within the last month!), awesome friends, good health, and a fantastic harvest this Fall at my parents’ family farm.

What’s one thing about you that might surprise people?
Despite a few years of not winning, I’m still an avid Chicago Cubs fan.  That’s right, I haven’t given up hope yet.  Let’s go Cubbies!

Who would play you in the movie about your life?
This is a tough one, but I’d have to go with Tom Hanks. He has a knack for making some good movies, and I think he has what it takes to play a complex role.  

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Meet the ENF Staff

Lydia Raabe
Communications Assistant

What's Lydia writing? Check the ENF website
and ENF social media pages to find out!
How long have you worked at the ENF?
I started just over a year ago as a temp in Donor Services and have been the Communications Assistant since March.

What projects are you/your department working on right now?
We’re celebrating Veterans Remembrance Month by sharing how Elks use Community Investments Program grants to serve veterans year-round. I especially enjoy reading how Elks have helped student vets, since many of them are my age. Their commitment to education and their communities is inspiring!

What’s your favorite part of working at the ENF?
I enjoy working closely with our Programs Department to share ENF successes through the ENF website, social media pages and mailings. I also work closely with the Development Department to put together ENFrontline, the monthly newsletter for ENF Chairs. Every day, I get to see how hard Elks volunteers work to support the ENF and serve their communities.

Describe your average day at the ENF.
My morning consists of drinking a lot of coffee and checking the ENF Facebook and Twitter pages to catch up on any action! My day always involves writing—letters, news releases, articles for the website, or updating our Facebook status.

What are you thankful for this month?
I’m thankful that it’s so easy to stay in touch with my friends and family that live in different states or countries. I’m thankful for my education. I’m thankful that I have a great job that allows me to live comfortably.

What’s one thing about you that might surprise people?
I love crafts! Right now, I’m trying to think of great Christmas gifts to make for my friends and family.

What book would you bring to a desert island?
The Outsiders, no question. Stay gold, Ponyboy.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Meet the ENF Staff

Henriette Pruger
Donor Services Coordinator

If you've sent in a donation to the ENF ,
Henri's processed it!
How long have you been working at the ENF?
I am an oldie. I have been here for close to 32 years. I have never been someone who likes change. I like stability. It may not be an active position. As long as contributions come in, we will continue to process them. The funds we receive help pay for college scholarships, veteran projects and drug awareness. They not only help fellow Elk members, but they also help the community.

What projects are you/your department working on right now?
At the moment, we are just trying to keep up. Donor Services’ work demand has increased lately and we need to keep on top of it. The new thing I am doing is submitting gift batches. We are short a person and I am helping out. I am the person you call on in times of emergency. I have always been reliable. In addition to these duties, we will be shortly doing weekly recognition. Life is never dull at the Foundation.

What are you doing to celebrate ENF month?
I am doing my duties. I have many. I send out supply orders, do online orders, process daily work, change addresses on return mail, and file. I am constantly busy. New procedures come every day and I have to keep up. I work in the early preparation stages of the contribution process. We build the foundation on which everything happens. Donor Services is the rock of the Foundation.

What’s your favorite part of working at the ENF?
The work allows me to concentrate. I don’t feel guilty if I have to spend a couple hours on a project. I don’t live my life rushing. I like to take things slow and do things right. The world is constantly running. I like to sit back and smell the flowers. The daily processing procedures make this possible. The type of work we/I do always involves concentration.

Describe your average day at the ENF.
This is difficult to answer. No day is really average. I start out doing online orders and sending out supply orders. Then I start processing the contributions. This takes me most of the day. There are certain times of the month where I have other duties. I run the end-of-the-month labels and help mail out monthly reports. I also help out with other projects and they come in. If a duty involves detail precision, it is usually given to me. I am very good with details. When time allows, I check and change the addresses on return mail. And when the system is down, I help with filing. My duties vary depending on the time of the month and year.

What’s one thing about you that might surprise people?
I may seem like a very dry person, but I am very creative. My fellow workers already know this, but I am a self-published author. I currently have two books on Amazon.com and am in the process of trying to publish a third. My first book, A Gift from Nowhere, is a combination Pretty Woman meets Little House on the Prairie.

My second book, The Devil’s Portal, is the life, times and death of famous serial killer, H. H. Holmes. I spent two years researching him and lived at the Chicago Historical Society. I also researched the art of serial killing. Needless to say, I am a CSI fan. I wrote the book from the eye of an FBI profiler and am very proud of it. Everyone who has read it cannot believe how I was able to combine 80 percent facts and turn it into a dramatized ghost story. They all enjoy it. I am quite proud of it. I was able to tell the facts without going into excessive detail. I was raised on the old Universal monster movies where you never saw blood. Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff are my idols. My favorite movie is the 1963 version of The Haunting, where you never even saw the ghost. I believe in the process of imagination.

What TV show do I never miss?
That’s easy, Doctor Who. I have been a fan since 1982 and have seen almost all of the series since it premiered in 1963.  I have met many of the doctors, alive and now dead, and have been to many conventions. I also like the spin-offs, such as Sarah Jane and Torchwood. The good Doctor and I are friends. The Rabbi that married my husband and me looked like David Tennant, Doctor Number 10. My husband and I even say we were married by the Doctor.

I love anything British. I have since the birth of the Beatles. I am an avid Beatles fan and have attended many Beatlefests. I love sitting under the stairs and jamming with other people. I even wrote an article, found on the web, called "The People Under the Stairs." Our videos can be seen on YouTube.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Meet the ENF Staff

Debbie Kahler Doles
Assistant Director
Debbie (right) joins Colleen, Quin and Nikyla on the
sidelines before the Mavericks' game.

How long have you worked at the ENF?
I celebrated my ninth anniversary on October 18.

What projects are you/your department working on right now?
The Programs Department is always a hotbed of activity!

The Hoop Shoot season is in full swing! Youth Programs Associate Colleen Muszynski and I just returned from Dallas where we got to witness two of our 2013 Hoop Shoot National Finalists go pro for the night. Nikyla Green and Quin Anderson showed off their free throw shooting prowess during the Dallas Mavericks’ halftime show on October 25. How many 11 year olds can say they’ve shot baskets center court at an NBA game?! Thanks to the passion and determination of a few Texas Elks, two kids have a lot to brag about at school today. And, nearly 18,000 people know more about the Elks and the Elks Hoop Shoot. Priceless.

For the seventh year in a row, ENF Month also means we welcome a new class of Impact Grant recipients. After eight weeks of review and selection, we’re gearing up for the big Impact Grant announcement on October 30. Keep an eye on our website for the exciting details.

The 2014 scholarships contests are under way, as well. The Most Valuable Student applications are due to Lodges by December 6 and Legacy Awards are due January 31. We’re in the throes of preparing for a new component of the MVS top winners selection: a Leadership Weekend. In late April, the top 10 male and top 10 female national finalists will come to Chicago to participate in a weekend of activities geared toward establishing relationships with each other and the Elks. In addition, each of the finalists will be interviewed by a panel of national judges.


Huddle up! Every morning, Debbie (right) leads the 
Programs team huddle to go over the day's plays projects.
What are you doing to celebrate ENF Month?
We celebrate our programs every month of the year, but during ENF Month, each week features a different program and its successes. We’ll end the month with the Elks Drug Awareness Program, given its close ties to Red Ribbon Week, which is October 23 to 31.

What’s your favorite part of working at the ENF?
That we are constantly evolving. For example, when I started at the Foundation in 2004, grants to Lodges was just an idea that had been kicked around for a few years. In 2005, the Community Investments Program was launched as a $350,000 program. Now, it’s an $8.5 million program with four different grant components.  

I do adore working with the Elks, too! Such a dedicated army of volunteers always at the ready to build stronger communities.

Describe your average day at the ENF.
My days involve a lot of emails and meetings. Many of our programs are cyclical, so we are always in the process of planning for the next big thing, be it scholarship deadlines or announcements, grant offerings or deadlines, or Hoop Shoot contests.

What’s one thing about you that might surprise people?
I love the Chicago Blackhawks!

What TV show do you never miss?
Right now, it’s HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. But, I really look forward to Modern Family every week, too.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Meet the ENF Staff

Kristen Scaletta
Communications Manager
Have you received an ENF brochure?
Kristen's eye for design ensures all ENF media is
engaging and informative! 

How long have you worked at the ENF?
I started in August 2008, so I’ve worked here for just more than five years.

What projects are you/your department working on right now?
We just finished tweeting the funded Impact Grant projects during the selection meetings this week. With ENF month promotion well under way, we are also already preparing for Veterans Remembrance Month. Stay tuned for more fun ways to stay connected throughout November!

What are you doing to celebrate ENF Month?

I am following all of the ENF’s Facebook updates, especially the daily trivia. Every morning, I look forward to reading comments and seeing photos posted by our supporters and volunteers.

What’s your favorite part of working at the ENF?
The people! As part of the Communications Department, I have the privilege of working closely with members of every department. Because of this, every day I hear stories of Elks scholars getting more involved with their Elks family, Lodges using ENF grants to serve people in need, and youth leading active and drug-free lives with the guidance of ENF programs. I also get to hear about all of the dedicated volunteers and generous supporters who make ENF programs possible. It’s amazing how so many people across the country are connected by the goal of building stronger communities, and I am proud to be a part of this group.

Describe your average day at the ENF.

The Communications Department is charged with maintaining consistency across the ENF’s message and brand. On average, I spend each day writing, designing and editing. We’re always working on compiling, designing, or editing an upcoming publication, from Heartbeat, our quarterly donor newsletter, to Pulse, our monthly e-newsletter, so every day I do something related to one of the many pieces we produce. I also proofread almost everything that goes out of our office, so, although I don’t like clutter, my desk is often covered with fun stories, ENF articles, letters and more just waiting to be reviewed.

What’s one thing about you that might surprise people?
I was once mentioned in Newsweek because of my love of Diet Coke.

What TV show do you never miss?
Right now, I look forward to a new episode of Homeland every Sunday night.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Thanksgiving in Canada

By 2013 Most Valuable Student scholar and Elks Scholar Advisory Board member Nate Baker 

Nate Baker, 2013 MVS scholar sponsored by Tyrone, Pa., Lodge No. 212, is the freshman representative on the Elks Scholar Advisory Board and new to college life. Throughout his first year of college, we’ll be following Nate through monthly blog posts. Check back each month to see what new adventures Nate encounters during this first year at Cornell!

Une Rue de Montreal
While just about everyone else fled campus this October to head home, I headed up to the “True North Strong and Free.” That’s right, O Canada! Montreal, to be exact. Equipped with my weak understanding of the French language, passport and bookbag, I boarded the bus for a seven hour international journey out of the infamous “Cornell bubble” and into the real world. The Big Red Marching Band was going to Canada!

After crossing the border, several sessions of mad-libs, watching the worst movie that anyone can find (Sharknado anyone?), and cramming 10 people into the bus bathroom (claustrophobia...), among other odd traditions, we entered a land where the speed limit signs were in kilometers and the exit signs in French. Montreal is a beautiful place. With culture and pedestrian spaces everywhere, it is reminiscent of the streets of a European city, conveniently located just a car ride north. We reveled in the night life, ate the classic poutine, and ended the night appreciating the skyline on the hotel balcony.

A foggy morning at
Percival Molson Memorial Stadium

The next morning was damp and foggy. A translucent cover partially obstructed the backdrop of Montreal’s skyscrapers. At Percival Molson Memorial Stadium, the band readied to rock pre-game and halftime as the Montreal Alouettes prepared to take on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. This is Canada's version of the annual Dallas Cowboys’ Thanksgiving game. We paraded around, played a concert for generally receptive Québécois people, and finally stepped onto the field to perform for 25,000 eager Alouettes fans. The performance went over well and the players took the field.

We took our seats in the stands and listened to the deep baritone of the Canadian national anthem before kick-off. With three downs instead of four, a 55 yard line, 20 yard end zones, and 12 men on the field, the Canadian Football League is a bit different from our tried and true NFL. Nevertheless, we enjoyed the game and even picked up a competitive “faux-fandom” to encourage “My Al’s” against a friend’s “Bombers.” Halftime neared with the score tied.

Thankful for this opportunity!
As we were awaiting to take the field and perform a “Les Mis” themed show (how fitting, oui?), someone asked me, “Hey Nate, what are you thankful for?” This question caught me off-guard. Being that it was Canadian Thanksgiving and I was in Canada, I should probably take time to reflect. I am thankful for a lot of things, namely my family, friends, health, and most definitely being an Elks scholar!! I halfheartedly blurted out something about the fact that it stopped raining. In all seriousness, now that I have had time to rethink my answer, I would answer it in the following way:  I am thankful for opportunity. The opportunity to be in such a great place surrounded by greater people seems unreal to me. The opportunity to be the first one in my family to go to college and having the support of my family and friends is what got me here. The opportunities that have arisen in my life over the last year are incredible and I can’t be thankful enough.

I challenge readers to decide what they are thankful for and share it here or, preferably, with the people for whom you are thankful.

Until next time!

Nate Baker
Freshman Elks Scholar Advisory Board Representative
2013 Most Valuable Student Scholar
Cornell University

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Meet the ENF Staff

Ashley Brown
Programs Coordinator

Ashley channels her role model Lee Miller as she
puts her creative angle on a scholarship mailing.
How long have you worked at the ENF?
I have worked at the ENF since April 2013. That short time feels like it’s flown by quickly, but I’ve already learned so much and can’t wait to learn more!

What projects are you/your department working on right now?
We recently launched the 2014 Most Valuable Student and Legacy Awards scholarship competitions so we are working with scholarship chairs to help promote the contest while also answering questions from applicants. Along with our day to day responsibilities, we’re also working to prepare for the Leadership Weekend from April 25 to 27, 2014, where the top 20 Most Valuable Student finalists will be interviewing for top awards. There are a lot of exciting changes and our office has been busy!

What are you doing to celebrate ENF Month?
Besides reading the 25 Lodges in 25 Days, I also have been reading the thank yous and updates we receive from our scholars. They are all doing amazing things, both in their studies and their communities, and it is inspiring to know the impact they are having on the world and the impact we have been able to have on their education.

What’s your favorite part of working at the ENF?
I really enjoy speaking with students and Elks volunteers who are all working to help improve access to higher education. I know how profoundly my life has been changed by attending college as a first generation college student, so it is an honor to work with dedicated volunteers who promote the contests and the stories of the students who benefit from the generosity of the Elks.

Describe your average day at the ENF.
My average day begins by answering emails and calls from Elks scholars, applicants and our volunteers regarding the scholarship contests, while drinking my beloved morning coffee. I also process the current scholar’s verification forms, help process and send scholarship checks, and generally maintain the scholarship database and payment schedules. I also help Colleen a bit with Hoop Shoot questions and getting extra materials out to the directors to help promote their contests. This is in addition to writing features on our scholars and sometimes our Hoop Shoot Directors about the amazing work they are doing in their careers and communities.

What’s one thing about you that might surprise people?
I have a twin brother with whom I am very close. Many people seem fascinated by twins so they’re always curious what it was like growing up with one. For me, it was like having a built in friend with whom I was able to share life milestones and also a lot of laughs. 

If you could meet anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

It would probably be Lee Miller, who was a model and photographer and part of the Lost Generation in Paris in the 1920s. She later became a wartime photojournalist in World War II. Besides being an amazing artist and photographer in her own right, she mingled with many famous and influential artists and writers and led a fascinating life. Besides being an art history nerd, it is inspiring to read about a strong independent woman who followed her own path and created her own legacy.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Pocatello, Idaho, Lodge No.674
The Elks from Pocatello, Idaho, Lodge No. 674 know the truth in the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.”

Using Elks National Foundation Beacon and Gratitude Grants, the Lodge partnered with local food banks, the school district and family resource centers to start the Kid’s Closet to provide needed supplies for youth in need. The Lodge purchased and collected clothing and hygiene items, and packed and distributed the kits. With help from the Elks, local children of all ages received the supplies and support they needed.

Thanks to ENF grants, the Pocatello Elks have formed lasting relationships with other local organizations, reenergized membership, and publicized the Lodge to community members.

“The Kid’s Closet allows us to have a project we are proud of while showing community members what the Elks can do,” says Project Manager Sera White. “It gives people a reason to join our organization.”

The Elks National Foundation helps Lodges serve their communities by offering $2,000 Gratitude Grants. Lodges are eligible to apply for Gratitude Grants after meeting the National President’s per-member goal for giving to the Foundation. Through Beacon Grants, the Elks National Foundation gives Lodges the opportunity to develop an ongoing, charitable, Elks-driven community project. These $2,000 grants are available to all Lodges. To find out more about Gratitude Grants, Beacon Grants and the Community Investments Program, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Meet the ENF Staff

Sarah Louderman
Programs Assistant

Sarah just started in her position as Programs Assistant,
and she already feels the love from grateful grant recipients.

How long have you worked at the ENF?
November will be two years. It’s gone by quickly, but I’ve learned so much.

What projects are you/your department working on right now?
I’m wrapping up as Donor Services Assistant and training for my new position as Programs Assistant working with the Community Investments Program. Programs is reviewing submitted Beacon and Gratitude Grant applications as well as Final Report Forms from completed grant projects. We’re also gearing up for the Impact Grant announcement at the end of ENF Month.

What are you doing to celebrate ENF Month?
I’m celebrating by reading 25 Lodges in 25 Days on the ENF website. It’s one of the best parts of ENF Month!

What’s your favorite part of working at the ENF?

My favorite part is hearing about how the Elks and the ENF have helped people. I’m always inspired by the dedicated volunteers and the creative ways they continue to help more people every year.

Describe your average day at the ENF.
Since I’m transitioning departments, every day is different. Soon though, my average day will include reviewing grant applications and Final Report Forms, writing about successful grant projects for our website or newsletters, and helping volunteers with any grant related questions they have.

What’s one thing about you that might surprise people?
I love Mexican food. I could eat it for every meal, including breakfast.

What TV show do you never miss?

I’m a Gleek! I’ve watched every episode of Glee at least once.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Meet the ENF Staff

Colleen Muszynski
 Youth Programs Associate

Fans go wild for the ENF's starting
Youth Programs Associate—Colleen!
How long have you worked at the ENF?
I’ve worked at the ENF since June 2012, so a little over a year.

What projects are you working on right now?
Right now, I’m working on learning my new role with the Hoop Shoot. Recently, I moved from a Programs Assistant position with the Community Investments Program to the Youth Associate position, which means I’ll be running the day-to-day aspects of everything Hoop Shoot. I’m really excited about this new opportunity! Local Hoop Shoot contests are starting soon, so I’m working to make sure we can gather information from these contests across the country to highlight Hoop Shoot successes as contestants move to Districts.

What are you doing to celebrate ENF Month?

I’m constantly checking the Foundation’s website and Facebook page to read newly posted features on all of our awesome programs. I especially like reading the 25 Lodges in 25 Days feature, I never miss a day!

What’s your favorite part of working at the ENF?

My favorite part of working at the ENF, hands-down, is interacting with our amazing volunteers. Working with the CIP, and now in my new position with the Hoop Shoot, I have the opportunity to talk with Elks volunteers from across the country on a daily basis. I’ve had some great conversations with Elks during my tenure here so far. The commitment our volunteers have to positively impacting their communities is inspiring.

Describe your average day at the ENF.

My day at the ENF office usually starts with a quick morning meeting with my boss and fellow programs department co-workers. I really like hearing about the project my co-workers are working on—it’s a great way to stay engaged with the successes of our programs. Since I’m only about a week in to this new position with the Hoop Shoot, I’ve been spending the rest of my day reviewing program materials, reaching out to volunteers, and completing tasks to make sure I’m on track for the National Finals in April.

What’s one thing about you that might surprise people?

My dad and I started running 5K races together last summer. We’re gearing up to run our first half-marathon this November!

What TV show do you never miss?

Homeland! I’m completely hooked on this show, but since I don’t have Showtime, I do end up missing episodes when they air. I recently received season two for my birthday and I tore through the episodes in a week. I have to find a way to catch season three soon—it’s already started!