Monday, December 8, 2014

Success in Springfield

by Programs Assistant Sarah Louderman

Due to my brother’s poor timing picking a wedding date, I unfortunately did not have the chance to attend the Elks National Convention in New Orleans this past summer. Thankfully though, the Elks National Foundation was invited to attend the Illinois Elks Convention. The IEA wants to encourage more Lodges to apply for Community Investments Program grants, so our two-person grant department of Programs Associate, Mary Morgan, and I traveled to Springfield for the weekend.

Mary and I arrived in Springfield late Friday morning and were greeted by many friendly Elks who helped us set up a conference room for office hours. We held office hours and assisted visitors with general information about the Community Investments Program. Afterwards, we walked to the Abraham Lincoln Museum and Library and spent the end of the afternoon touring the spectacular exhibits and perusing the gift shop.

Once we returned from our museum visit, we went to the top floor of the hotel to stop by the Districts’ hospitality rooms. The rooms were decorated with fun themes and we toured each one to say hello to volunteers we had become acquainted with through the Community Investments Program. Since our grant presentation was planned for Saturday morning, we decided to turn in early so we would be well-rested and prepared for the next day.

Saturday morning was busy and exciting. Mary and I met early to review our presentation notes and before long, we had only 15 minutes before we were planned to start! We hurried to the conference room and got rolling. The room was filled from the beginning, but many more people joined and we eventually had to bring in additional chairs. The crowd was attentive and we distributed all of our flyers and brochures. The presentation mainly focused on the Beacon and Gratitude Grants, since these are generally the only two still available in September. Mary detailed the different guidelines for each grant, important details that the ENF looks for on grant applications, and common application mistakes.

After the presentation wrapped, many Elks came up to chat with us and ask questions. Some people requested more information and others just wanted to introduce themselves. After speaking with so many volunteers over the phone during our regular work days, it’s always nice to formally meet in person.

We stayed for a couple hours after the presentation to help a few Secretaries, Exalted Rulers, and Grant Coordinators with project ideas and planning. Once everyone had the assistance they needed, we packed up our rental car to hit the road—but not before one last stop. We had a craving for something sweet, chocolaty, and Lincolny, so we stopped at the Lincoln Museum’s gift shop one last time to purchase chocolate covered penny cookies. We then bid farewell to Springfield and the IEA Convention. Thank you for being such great hosts!

The Elks National Foundation allocated $8.68 million this year to fund the Community Investments Program. Lodges meet local needs in Elks communities through Beacon, Gratitude, Promise and Impact Grants. These grants offer Lodges opportunities to serve the community in ways that will raise the Lodge’s profile, energize the membership, encourage former members to return to the fold, and gain the notice of people who want to be part of an organization that’s doing great things. To learn more about the Community Investments Program, please visit www.elks.org/enf/community

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