Skip to main content

The Nitty-Gritty on 
All in the Elks Family

by Jim O'Kelley, Director
Elks National Foundation

At the outset of this series, I mentioned that we didn't have time to talk with all 72 families during the busy finals weekend. Instead, we chose families that either had an interesting angle, such as the Holcers or the Abramses, or could provide insight on one of the volunteers we were following for the feature film.

The latter was the case with McKinley Fitzgerald and her mom, Jennifer. McKinley provided us with a good sound bite about Lynn Rutherford-Snow, Virginia's state director, that we used in the film.

McKinley (center) takes aim during the party at the Hall of Fame.

But we repurposed their interviews for the #TrueGritTuesdays series, because they both spoke to the role we as Elks play in developing grit (beyond the obvious contribution of the Hoop Shoot as a means).

Grit is the courage and resolve to keep going in the face of hardship. You can't force that. You can't force people to be tenacious. You can't force them to persevere. That comes from within.

We don't teach grit, they develop it.

The participants have to learn our program's lessons for themselves. But as volunteers working with kids through the Hoop Shoot program, there are things we can do to help them become grittier.

  1. We can help them set goals.
  2. We can make the experience fun.
  3. We can be supportive.
  4. We can provide encouragement.
Do those four things, and the rest will take care of itself.

In her first year in the program, McKinley reached the Virginia state contest. It was quite a run, but defeat there crushed her spirit. She was ready to quit. Lynn Rutherford-Snow wouldn't let her. The state director who had treated her like family, who had made her feel special, urged her to keep trying.

And she did.

She kept setting goals. She kept working hard. She kept having fun. Because she knew that Lynn and all the Virginia Elks were behind her, the way families are.

And all the while, without even really knowing it, McKinley was becoming grittier.

In case you haven't seen it yet, here's All in the Elks Family.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Serving by the Blue Ridge Mountains

by Gabriella Haire 2015 Most Valuable Student Scholar
My name is Gabriella Haire and I am a junior studying biomedical engineering at the University of Minnesota. Beyond dreaming up medical innovations, I enjoy volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House, training for cross country ski races, and exploring new cities one ice cream shop at a time.

Following a typical track practice in March 2015, I received an atypical email. It was an invitation to the Elks Most Valuable Student Leadership Weekend and the promise of an Elks National Foundation scholarship. I was elated as I celebrated in the locker room, but I didn’t fully realize how that email and the Leadership Weekend were just the beginning of my relationship with the Elks.
After a physics lecture in November 2015, I received an email confirming my acceptance to the Winter Elks Scholar Service Trip in Oakland, California. I was eager to connect with Elks scholars for a whole week, rather than just a weekend. As it turned out, a week w…

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 …