Friday, May 22, 2015

May Director's Update

By Elks National Foundation Director Jim O'Kelley
 
This month’s Midday with the ENF, our podcast about the Elks National Foundation, features a must-listen interview with Bryce Caswell and Sean Loosli.

To refresh your memory, Bryce and Sean were the top two Most Valuable Student scholarship recipients back in 2003. Here’s a photo of the two of them at the Elks National Convention in St. Louis, along with Meghan and me and also Robin Edison, who used to work with us.
Robin Edison, Sean Loosli, Bryce Caswell, Meghan Morgan and Jim O'Kelley
at the 2003 Elks National Convention in St. Louis
It was taken after they had blown everyone away with their speeches.

They left town that day with $60,000 scholarships, both headed to Harvard.

Fast forward 12 years. The two of them were with us recently for our second Leadership Weekend. Here’s what we look like now:
Sean, Bryce, Meghan and Jim
Sean and Bryce served on the judging panels for the interviews and were two of the six current and former Elks scholars who helped make the weekend a success. Officially, these six were judges, chaperones, film directors and leaders, but they also served as mentors for the new scholars.

We’ve been focusing our scholar outreach on engagement with Elks Lodges. We want you Elks to get our scholars involved in meaningful ways. As we’ve seen, if you can connect with a scholar one-on-one, our organization will become more than just a check to them and they will want to join us. (Related: Check out this post from another scholar who has joined the Elks.)

We will continue to stress engagement with Elks, but the Leadership Weekend along with the upcoming Scholar Service Trips are creating new opportunities to connect scholars with one another and establish not just friendships but also mentoring relationships. That’s really exciting.

At one point during the interview, Bryce talks about how much the 20 new scholars inspired her, and she says, “We’re going to hear about these students for the next 40 years in our country.”

Elks scholars are among our country’s best and brightest. They’re the movers and shakers of their generation. Now, imagine what it could do for the Elks brand if being an Elks scholar becomes as much a part of their identity as where they went to college and what they achieve.

That’s what we’re trying to accomplish, and we can get there by continuing to build a strong scholar network.

Listen to the interview. It will make you feel good about what we’re doing with your donations. You can find it at www.elks.org/enf/midday.cfm.

Sincerely,

Jim O’Kelley
ENF Director

Thursday, May 14, 2015

A Proud Member of the Elks Family

By 2009 Elks Legacy Scholar Lauren Kuhn
2015 Miss America 4th runner-up Lauren Kuhn
speaking to Hoop Shoot Finalists at the 2015 National Finals
Springfield, Massachusetts—the birthplace of basketball. Believe it or not, my time as Miss Massachusetts had not yet taken me to Springfield for an event surrounding basketball. I jumped at the opportunity to be the keynote speaker and National Anthem performer for the Elks Hoop Shoot National Finals. As a 2009 Elks Legacy scholar, I looked forward to the chance to reunite with my Elks family but what I didn’t know was that I’d be reuniting with some of my biological family too! When I stepped through the elevators in my downtown hotel in Springfield, I was stunned to see my grandmother and grandfather waiting for me. They live more than two hours from Seattle, Washington, so they had a long way to travel! The Elks National Foundation surprised me with their attendance. Why was this so meaningful? Let me share.

Lauren taking a selfie with her grandparents!
My grandfather Melvin Thompson is a life-long Elk and ran the Hoop Shoot at Hoquiam, Wash., Lodge No. 1082 for many years. My mom, sister, and I all participated. Then, when it came time to apply for college, my grandpa was there to sponsor my application to become an Elks Legacy scholar. He not only helped me, he helped many young people in the community by being an involved member of his Lodge for so long.


When the athletes and their regional Elks leaders came onto the court, I could see the pride radiating from all of the Elks involved. These Elks weren’t even related to the athletes, but they were still proud. This type of mentorship and support was showed their contagiously selfless attitudes. Then, I watched the Hoop Shoot stars and immediately noticed the excitement in their eyes as they planned each shot. I saw the pride they had in what they were accomplishing—they knew they’d made it very far. When it was time to narrow the field, I couldn’t help but feel my heart break as I knew that every athlete was impressive and was deserving of the national title. After meeting athletes that did not win the contest, I could relate to their mixed feelings of excitement and disappointment. The maturity that these young people show is impressive, because many adults still struggle with these feelings and have a tough time feeling proud of their accomplishments when they aren’t the ultimate “winner.” So, what can we learn from these impressive young athletes?

1. There’s always next year! Whether it is a sporting event, scholarship opportunity or job opportunity, there is no reason we can’t try again for the same or a similar opportunity in the future. Perseverance is the key to success.

2. Sportsmanship is the name of the game. When I placed 5th in the Miss America 2015 pageant, I was still thrilled for the four women who finished above me—just as the young athletes at the Hoop Shoot congratulated those who received awards.

3. Sometimes we gain more by not winning. It’s true that winners learn from their mistakes and channel their determination to help them improve! Each time a competitor doesn’t finish at the top, he or she has the opportunity to evaluate ways to improve ultimately helping them learn valuable life skills. The trip to success isn’t always direct… there might be a few layovers along the way.


I am incredibly proud of all the athletes. Regardless of their placement in the contest, they are a success and they earned their way to the top! Congratulations!

Lauren Kuhn 2017
Doctor of Dental Medicine candidate, Harvard University
2015 Miss America 4th runner-up
2009 Elks Legacy scholar


In 2015-16, the Elks National Foundation appropriated $4.16 million to fund the ENF scholarship program, which provides college scholarships, ensuring a bright future for our nation’s youth. As important parts of the Elks family, Elks scholars have many social and service opportunities to connect with the Elks and each other. For more information about our scholarship programs, and for ways Lodges can get involved with Elks scholars, visit www.elks.org/enf/scholars. For more information about the Hoop Shoot, including videos and news from the court, visit www.elks.org/hoopshoot.

Friday, May 8, 2015

From Volunteer to Scholar to Elk—My Journey to Elkdom

By MVS Scholar Sean Pringle

I first volunteered at the Oceano/Five Cities Elks Lodge back in my junior year of high school. The Lodge was serving a huge crab feed dinner to benefit one of their many local causes. That night, I met an Elks member—Tony Ulibarri—who held a very large smile in the back kitchen as he served up his homemade pesto sauce.
Sean Pringle and Tony Ulibarri
The next year (as a high school senior), I volunteered at the same dinner. Earlier that fall, I applied to be an Elks Teenager of the Month and for the ENF Most Valuable Student Scholarship. I remember submitting my Teenager of the Month application to the high school counseling office the same time Tony arrived to pick the applications up. He arrived—again with a large smile—and we talked for a few minutes. A few months later, I found out that I had been selected as a Teenager of the Month and, later, Teenager of the Year. Then, in April, I was notified that I was selected as an MVS Scholarship recipient. I was both excited and proud to accept these awards, but I wanted to learn more about the organization and their work. I received an email from the ENF to serve on the Elks Scholar Advisory Board, a group devoted to drawing together Elks scholars to perform service and help them reach out to Elks Lodges near their colleges.

During the summers while I served on the Board, I attended the Elks National Convention. I enjoyed touring each booth at the Convention to hear about the Elks’ state-wide charity programs, meet several Elks, and collect some really cool pins! While in college at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo, I started an Elks scholar group on my campus and took these students back to my home Lodge to volunteer at dinners and other local events. It was rewarding for me to give back to the Elks for supporting my education and to work with the ENF, who helped me understand how charity is truly one of the strongest tenets of both the Order and its members.

Last June, I finished my undergraduate program in civil engineering, and began the graduate program in the fall. Without the support from the Elks, I don’t think I would have seen it as feasible to continue my education and work towards a master’s degree.

This past week, I joined the Oceano/Five Cities Elks Lodge. I feel proud of these past few years of giving time and receiving so much from the Elks. As a member, I hope to contribute to the Lodge and its great impact in my hometown. From the first time I volunteered at the annual crab feed, I knew the Elks provided a good service to those around them. Now I realize that the environment at the Lodge extends far beyond its benefit dinners and annual events—their charity and benevolence is a way of life. I look forward to serving the Elks and allowing the solid values of the Order to shape and strengthen me as I gain many new friendships with other Elks and embrace the warm culture and service-minded life of my new family.

Sean Pringle
2010 Most Valuable Student Scholar Member, Oceano/Five Cities, Calif., Lodge No. 2504

In 2015-16, the Elks National Foundation appropriated $4.16 million to fund the ENF scholarship program, which provides college scholarships, ensuring a bright future for our nation’s youth. As important parts of the Elks family, Elks scholars have many social and service opportunities to connect with the Elks and each other. For more information about our scholarship programs, and for ways Lodges can get involved with Elks scholars, visit www.elks.org/enf/scholars.