Skip to main content

Cinema and the Circus Gene

by Jim O'Kelley, Director
Elks National Foundation

My wife likes to say that my family has “the circus gene.” Maybe she’s right. My mom always wanted to be an actress, and my younger sister is one. (Perhaps you’ve seen her in such shows as The New Adventures of Old Christine and Devious Maids.)

My sister, the actress.
As for me, I’ve been known to dazzle karaoke crowds with my powerful rendition of “Wonderwall.” However, mostly I prefer to watch other people perform. Especially in the summer.

One of my favorite ways to beat the heat is to take in a movie. Of course, with two small children, I don’t get to the movies as often as I’d like, nor can I always find two hours to watch one at home.

Sound familiar? Well, guess what? You’re going to love our YouTube channel.

The ENF has been cranking out short films this year—we’ve produced 21 since the Hoop Shoot in April. There are a couple of long-form interviews among them, but most are pretty short—between 2 and 4 minutes. Even the busiest among us can squeeze in a few minutes.

Fair warning, though: You get out of bed to get a drink of water, sit down at the laptop to check your email, decide to watch a short film. One becomes two, soon you’ve watched five, and you’re  wondering why you’re still up.

Me, rocking live band karaoke.
(That's an iced tea in my hand.)
Seriously, that’s happened to me multiple times recently. And I’ve already seen all these films numerous times.

You can lose track of time on our YouTube channel, but you know what? It’s time well spent. We’re delivering good, short stories that are going to make you feel proud that you support our work.

Several feature scholarship recipients. There’s an interview with an Emergency Educational Grant recipient that will break your heart and then fill it with pride. A couple of others feature Legacy Award winners and their sponsors, and you can just see how our scholarship has strengthened the bond between them.

I’m even in a few. The circus gene surfaces in Can Larry Dunk? where I play the straight man. My sister Tricia got most of the acting talent but not all of it.

Jane, future Grand Exalted Ruler.
The Larry video is a fun look at what it means to be a part of a team that works on one of our programs. Our volunteers get more serious treatment, too. Our Hoop Shoot film this year follows four of them through the finals and tells the story of the weekend through their eyes. And the tribute to Jeff Mitchell, the Community Investments Program’s Volunteer of the Year, is fantastic.

My favorite is probably Girls Allowed, and not just because it stars my wife and features a non-speaking cameo by my daughter, Jane.  I like it because it’s important. It will inspire parents to get their daughters involved in the Hoop Shoot. It will encourage female members to volunteer with the program. And it will change the attitudes of people whose opinions of us are as outdated as they think we are.

Just writing about these films makes me want to watch them again. I think I will. You should, too. There are 21 in the queue and more on the way. You don’t want to fall too far behind. There’s only so much time in the day.
 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

What I'll Remember Most

by Cullen Edens
2016 Most Valuable Student Scholar Cullen, along with 19 other scholars, came together to serve the San Antonio community in the name of the Elks from June 26 to June 29. These 20 scholars then joined 130 of their fellow scholars for the 150 for 150 Service and Celebration Weekend, where all 150 scholars worked together to serve the city of San Antonio from June 29 through July 2. 



My name is Cullen Edens and I am a junior at East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma where I am majoring in Accounting. When I was selected as an Elks Most Valuable Student scholar, I simply thought I would collect my award and move on with my college education. I had no idea the impact that the Elks National Foundation would have on my life.
In late June, I traveled to San Antonio not knowing that this service trip would transform the way I viewed the communities around me. Arriving at Trinity University, I met 19 other Elks scholars from across the country from Maine to California. We instan…

Elks National Convention: Take One

by Taylor Odisho
Communications Assistant
It’s taken an entire week to fully digest everything I experienced at my first Elks National Convention, and I think I can finally do justice in putting pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, in sharing them.

I started working as the Communications Assistant at the Elks National Foundation in October of last year. In just nine months, I’ve been exposed to stories, people and moments, and I’ve been working hard to convey these interactions in an honest, interesting light that resonates with our audience.

But it wasn’t until I shook hands with “Crazy Richard” Clayton and his wife; sat down with Nester Tan, a platinum donor with the ENF; or spoke with many of the Elks I’ve been writing about these past several months that everything finally clicked.

There’s a scientific way to say this, but I’m a writer, so I’ll use words. You can study a topic for hours and hours, but you’ll never be able to memorize what you’re reading until you can connect it to …

Because They're Elks

by Cecily Froerer 2014 Most Valuable Student Scholar
My name is Cecily Froerer. I’m a junior at Utah State University where I’m studying Communicative Disorders and minoring in American Sign Language. Four years ago, I was a high school senior with two goals. First, obtain a college degree. Second, do so without any form of student loans. The second was a seemingly unattainable goal.

By some stroke of luck, I found myself in my high school’s office when two men from the local Elks Lodge shared information about the Most Valuable Student scholarship. As I continued about my week, I kept thinking about that scholarship. It was stuck in my mind. Eventually, I applied. Maybe, I would be able to get a little money for college from this. I couldn’t have dreamed what was about to happen.

The next year was a whirlwind of surprises. I watched as my scholarship application passed through the Lodge, to the district, and on to the state level! I was incredibly grateful, but I was also fairly confi…