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!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Meet the ENF Staff

Erin Rohan
Development Manager

Erin enjoys the company of her
desk plant and the morning sun.
How long have you worked at the ENF?
About six years. I joined the ENF staff in June 2007.

What projects are you/your department working on right now?
I am launching a new staff position at full speed! As of October 1st, I’m charged with improving the annual fundraising efforts of the ENF while ensuring best use of the tools and knowledge we have here at the office. Right now among other things, I’m preparing personalized appeal letters for thousands of ENF donors asking for their continued support this season.

What are you doing to celebrate ENF Month?
I encourage and recognize the hard work of ENF fundraising volunteers! Leadership Pins and contests such as the Leadership Challenge and the Chair Challenge only reveal a fraction of the success these ENF Chairs achieve. We thank them all year long, but ENF Month brings a special opportunity.
                                                                                    
What’s your favorite part of working at the ENF?
Our charitable mission and the broad scope of it. Elks’ philanthropy meets a myriad of needs and looks as dynamic as the communities that make up the U.S.A. My work really does help Elks build stronger communities, and that’s important to me. I love hearing stories and seeing photos of Elks in action as they engage people through ENF programs.

Describe your average day at the ENF.
I spend most days using the computer at my desk in the company of my beautiful desk plants and my upbeat office mates. (More about Lindsay and Lydia in the coming weeks.) I have a hand in several projects that require ongoing attention, so while my days are not routine, they often include writing, research, fixing problems, making the most of our constituent database, and turning ideas into reality. Meetings with colleagues and talking on the phone to donors and volunteers sprinkle my day with welcome interaction. I try to get outside during lunch for a walk in the park every day, too, and that bottle on the water cooler often needs replacing.

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

I took leave from the ENF for four months in 2010 to venture on an independent service trip in Nepal. During that time, I lived in a rugged, rural mountain village, fully immersed in Nepali culture, and taught at a Buddhist monastery and an elementary school.

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

Paul Simon, of course, who is very much alive and unarguably brilliant. He and his music are the best, which I’ve known since the first time his tunes gripped me from the airwaves of a local radio station via the speakers of my dad’s 1988 pickup truck. Although I’ve seen Paul and his band in concert several times, we’ve yet to meet. If you or anyone you know can arrange that meeting for us, please do!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Meet the ENF Staff

Mary Morgan
Programs Associate

Mary proudly displays thank-you letters
from grateful ENF Grant recipients.
How long have you worked at the ENF?
I’ve worked for the ENF for 5 years.

What projects are you/your department working on right now?
Right now, the Community Investments Program is busy! We’ve just awarded all 500 Promise Grants. 2013-14 Beacon and Gratitude Grants are online now. We’ve also enlisted the help of many ENF staff members to help evaluate Impact Grant submissions. Applications are being scored every day in preparation for the big October 30 announcement.

What are you doing to celebrate ENF Month?
I’m celebrating ENF month by awarding grants to Lodges to hold great, charitable projects. 

What’s your favorite part of working at the ENF?
My favorite part of working at the ENF is getting to speak with volunteers every day. I know it takes time and commitment to plan projects, recruit volunteers, reach out the community, and hold a great grant project. I’m impressed every day with people’s commitment to charity and to their communities.

Describe your average day at the ENF.
I usually arrive a few minutes late, with a thermos of tea in hand to help prepare me for the day. I begin the day by checking my email messages and viewing grant applications online. The number of applications varies by the time of year. Right now, there are about 30 applications to view each morning. At certain times of year, there are nearly 100. I try to read and respond to each grant within one or two days of its submission. I review Final Report Forms that arrive in the mail, and look for good projects to feature (hint: these almost always include photos). Once a week I print up approval letters and send out grant checks to Lodges. I spend a fair amount of my day talking and emailing with volunteers, sharing ideas and guidance.

What’s one thing about you that might surprise people?
I’m a big music fan and attend concerts a few times a week.

What reality show would you go on and why?

I’d go on Globe Trekker so I could travel the world.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Meet the ENF Staff

Jim O'Kelley
ENF Director


Jim shows off his teamwork
and his cooking skills
at the ENF's annual staff retreat
How long have you worked at the ENF?
A little over 16 years. Started Aug. 1, 1997.
What projects are you working on right now?
Well, I’m trying to finish the last of my reviews, which is already long overdue. And I’m following up on some things from last weekend’s Board meeting. And I’m reviewing Impact Grant applications.
What are you doing to celebrate ENF Month?
We’re holding our annual staff retreat this month. I always look forward to that.
What’s your favorite part of working at the ENF?
We have a great team here, and I enjoy working with most of them all of the time and all of them at least some of the time. Okay, that was a nod to the book question below. (Bilbo at his birthday party.) Seriously, the Foundation is the greatest achievement of the Elks organization to date, and every day, I get to help realize the dream of the man who founded it. That’s pretty rewarding.
Describe your average day at the ENF.
The days typically aren’t that average, which is one of the reasons why the job continues to be rewarding, even after 16 years. But I spend most of my time facilitating the Board’s accountability to the public, planning for the future, and trying to make our processes as efficient and effective as possible.
What’s one thing about you that might surprise people?
I have an extensive board game collection.
What book would you bring to a desert island?
Ideally, it would be one I could eat in a pinch, just in case. Failing that, probably The Killer Angels. Honorable mentions to Watership Down, The Secret History, and The Lord of the Rings. Oh, and A Song of Ice and Fire, although the verdict is still out on that series as we await the final two installments.