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.