Monday, February 29, 2016

See You Later Decatur

by Youth Programs Associate Billy Donnelly

To read more posts about the Hoop Shoot, click here
 
My last blog post was about my experience at my very first Hoop Shoot contest at my Lodge, Chicago North Shore, Ill, Lodge No. 1316. I had such an amazing experience at my Lodge contest that I decided to keep the ball rolling (pun intended) all the way down to the Illinois State Hoop Shoot Contest in Decatur, Illinois. Who knew I would have to leave Chicago in order to get back on the road to the 2016 Hoop Shoot National Finals in Chicago.

The very first thing that I need to talk about when discussing my time in Decatur was the incredible team effort made by Illinois State Hoop Shoot Director Jim Swisher and the Illinois Elks Hoop Shoot volunteers. I was in great company. Illinois Elks Association representatives, Lodge and District Hoop Shoot Directors, ENF staff members, Lodge Secretaries, and Elks from all across Illinois brought their talents to Decatur. Together they put on a magnificent event for all of those involved.

From my very first encounter with Director Swisher and his volunteer “Dream Team”, I knew that I was in the big leagues. This contest was one to remember for the contestants and their families. It certainly was for me.

There were 48 families that attended the Illinois State Hoop Shoot contest. Only six contestants and their families advanced to the North Central Region 3 Contest. All 48 families however, were treated like champions. From the moment these families walked into the room for registration there was something to do. Meals were being provided, volunteers were engaging, the Drug Awareness activities were out for all to see, and of course, the pool was open.

During registration, some kids were more outgoing than others. By the time the awards banquet started, you could see all of the friendships that had developed over the weekend. The contestants, their families and the Elk volunteers—old friendships from previous contestants had been rekindled and new ones had formed. It was a wonderful sight to see.

The contest may take place on one Saturday in February, but attending the Illinois State Hoop Shoot in Decatur really helped me remember that the Elks Hoop Shoot is more than just a day. It is an opportunity to build and strengthen relationships and that can last a lifetime. It is with this in mind that I leave Decatur and continue on the road to Chicago, both literally and figuratively. My next literal stop will be a gas station, my next figurative stop will be in Iowa City, Iowa for the North Central Region 3 Hoop Shoot on Saturday, March 19, 2016. I was live tweeting the Illinois State Contest in Decatur and will be tweeting throughout my trip to the regional contest Iowa City. If you would like to follow along on Twitter, my handle is @ElksBilly. If you’re attending a contest, remember to post about it on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using #hoopshoot.

Billy Donnelly
Youth Programs Associate

The Elks have been developing gritty kids through the Hoop Shoot program for more than 40 years. In 2015-16, the Elks National Foundation allocated $924,070 to fund the program. For videos, news from the court, and more information about the Hoop Shoot, visit www.elks.org/hoopshoot.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

An Elks Family Affair

by Lynn Glick
Alameda, Calif., Lodge No. 1015


Elks scholars now have the opportunity to come together in service with their Elks scholar peers. These trips will offer the opportunity to learn about societal issues, serve those in need in the name of the Elks, and the chance for Elks scholars and Elks to connect with their Elks Family across the country. To read more posts about the service trips, click here.


Hi, I am Lynn Glick from Alameda, Calif., Lodge No. 1015. I am completing my third and final year as District Scholarship Chair. When I first joined the Elks, I helped with our Lodge’s scholarship judging. But it wasn’t until I became the Bay District Scholarship Chair, and also had the opportunity to judge applications at the state level, that I really understood how much work goes into the scholarship process. I am not just talking about the work of the Lodge Chairs, the District Chairs, and the state judges, but the work of the applicants themselves.

I had no idea how hard high school students work at part-time jobs, and how much time they spend participating in sports, practicing their instruments, singing in choirs, doing service projects, and being involved in a host of other outside activities. Nor did I realize that opportunities for leadership were so prevalent in high school. And that’s in addition to all the time they spend on their academics.

In January, I had the pleasure of meeting 19 Elks scholars when they came to the Bay Area for the Winter Elks Scholar Service Trip. The Elks Scholar Service Trips exist to offer Elks scholars the opportunity to learn about societal issues, serve in the name of the Elks, and to connect with their Elks family. My Lodge has a dinner every Wednesday, so I arranged for the scholars to enjoy a meal at the Lodge with our regular Wednesday night Elks, and several Elks officers from other Lodges in our District, and from two neighboring Districts.

We made it a family affair. I enlisted the help of my husband, Jeff, who is also an Elk, and our teenage daughter to greet the scholars when they arrived. Jeff enjoyed talking with them, and my daughter received valuable information that no parent can impart. She learned about the college application process and life as a college freshman, and came away with a lot of good information about how to make the most of her high school years. Having a chance to talk about these things with people who are only a few years older had a strong impact.

In speaking with the scholars on the trip, I was surprised to learn how many of them have parents who are Elks. This made me remember my reasons for joining the Elks. My dad was an Elk in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and I grew up going to Elks family events. He eventually transferred his membership to the Alameda Lodge when I was Exalted Ruler. I loved being able to spend time with him at the Lodge. We both liked volunteering for our Lodge Charity Gaming Night together, and he taught me how to deal blackjack, although I have never been as good at it as he was.

During their week in the Bay Area, the scholars served at Harbor House in Oakland. When I started teaching at an elementary school near there, many of my students went to Harbor House for after school snacks and tutoring. I am thrilled that this organization is still helping students in the neighborhood, and am very happy that the Elks scholars were able to help there.

I have always been a big supporter of the Elks scholarship programs, and donate to the Elks National Foundation to help keep these programs going. I have taught at several schools with a lot of low income and recent immigrant families, where the majority of students don’t have the chance to go to college. I have seen how having the chance to go to college has benefitted my former students, and am proud to have even a small role in a program that has helped thousands of deserving students reach their goals.

I think it is important for us to promote Elks scholarships. I know and talk about the Elks scholarships to any high school junior I know, so they can start thinking about applying well in advance of their senior year. In my Mom’s group I have been promoting the Elks scholarships for some time even though most of the kids are only high school freshmen and sophomores.

I wish every Lodge had the opportunity to host Elks scholars, and every Elk had a chance to meet and get to know them.

If you would like to engage Elks scholars in your area, please email scholarship@elks.org and watch Engage a short film with a message from Elks scholar Macy Warburton about the importance of connecting with Elks scholars.

We know Elks scholars are dedicated to service. Elks scholars now have the opportunity to come together in service with their Elks scholar peers. In 2015-16, the Elks National Foundation will offer three Elks Scholar Service Trips for up to 20 Elks scholars each. They are scheduled for the summer, winter and spring in locations from coast to coast. These trips provide scholars the opportunity to learn about societal issues, serve those in need in the name of the Elks, and connect with their Elks Family from across the country. For more information about the trips, click here.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

The 5 Stages of an Elks Scholar Service Trip

by Elizabeth Schaff
2012 Legacy Scholar


Elks scholars now have the opportunity to come together in service with their Elks scholar peers. These trips will offer the opportunity to learn about societal issues, serve those in need in the name of the Elks, and the chance for Elks scholars and Elks to connect with their Elks Family across the country. To read more posts about the service trips, click here.

I recently returned from Oakland, California, where I had the opportunity to serve alongside 18 of my Elks scholar peers and two wonderful ENF staff members as we delved into the issues of hunger and homelessness plaguing the San Francisco Bay area. Throughout the trip I experienced a whirlwind of emotions, and I gained more from my experience than I ever dreamed possible. Although these are only a handful of the many feelings I had during my trip, any Elks scholar considering attending an Elks scholar service trip can count on experiencing the following:

Curiosity
As an Elks scholar, I had always been interested in serving my campus and community. However, my involvement with the Elks had been limited, since there is no active Lodge near my university. When I received the application for the service trip I was curious about the Elks as a whole, as well as what types of service we might be performing. This was my first time participating in a service trip, so I truly didn’t know what to expect. This trip gave me great insight into the activities and service of the Elks, as well as an entirely new view of the issues facing the San Francisco area.
 
Anticipation
When I received my acceptance letter for the trip, I could barely contain my excitement. I was thrilled to have this opportunity to learn more about the Elks and my fellow Elks scholars from across the nation. I was also excited to dive into the issues of hunger and homelessness and how they affect the areas we served. Having grown up and attended college in North Dakota, I was eager to experience a new part of the country while having a meaningful impact on the Oakland community.  

Serving
Service is the cornerstone of the Elks scholar trips­–as such, our team spent four full days volunteering with different organizations around the Oakland area. We learned so much every day, and we had the opportunity to serve a wide variety of causes. From sorting cans and serving lunch at a shelter, to sorting more than 16,000 pounds of fresh produce at a county food bank, to interacting with low-income elementary school students in an after school program, to planting more than 6,000 marsh plants in an effort to restore the wetlands around the San Francisco Bay, there was definitely something for every participant. Through our service we learned about the issues facing the San Francisco Bay area, as well as about each other and ourselves.

Exploration
Our service trip included both figurative and literal aspects of exploration. On our final day in the San Francisco area we were able to visit several of the popular Bay Area attractions, including the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, and AT&T Park. Perhaps even more meaningful, however, was the personal exploration that each participant experienced throughout the week. During our nightly reflections we were able to learn about the experiences and viewpoints of our fellow Elks scholars, and we formed meaningful and lasting bonds with one another. I experienced more personal growth through my participation in the service trip than I ever imagined possible.

Gratitude
As an ENF scholarship recipient, I already felt a strong sense of gratitude to the Elks for helping to make my education possible; however, through my participation in the service trip, I gained a deeper sense of gratitude for all that the Elks have done for me and do for their communities.  By seeing firsthand the devastating effects of hunger and homelessness, I also gained insight into my own privilege, and am very thankful for all of the opportunities and blessings I have been given.

The trip was a truly eye-opening experience, and I learned an incredible amount about the issues we served, my fellow Elks scholars, and especially about myself. I feel extremely blessed to be part of the Elks family, and I would definitely encourage any Elks scholar to consider participating in a future service trip!

Elizabeth Schaff
2012 Legacy Scholar

Elizabeth Schaff is a 2012 Legacy Scholar and a recent graduate from the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, ND, where she earned a degree in biology with a minor in music. She currently lives in Saint Paul, MN, and plans to apply to medical school this summer.

We know Elks scholars are dedicated to service. Elks scholars now have the opportunity to come together in service with their Elks scholar peers. In 2015-16, the Elks National Foundation will offer three Elks Scholar Service Trips for up to 20 Elks scholars each. They are scheduled for the summer, winter and spring in locations from coast to coast. These trips provide scholars the opportunity to learn about societal issues, serve those in need in the name of the Elks, and connect with their Elks Family from across the country. For more information about the trips, click here.

Monday, February 8, 2016

It Made a Difference for That One

by Maryann Slater
Programs Relationship Associate

Elks scholars now have the opportunity to come together in service with their Elks scholar peers. These trips will offer the opportunity to learn about societal issues, serve those in need in the name of the Elks, and the chance for Elks scholars and Elks to connect with their Elks Family across the country. To read more posts about the service trips, click here.

I live for the light bulb moments. You know, when you can see someone’s perspective change, or they are finally able to understand something they haven’t been able to understand. While I am honored to serve alongside my fellow Elks scholars on the Elks Scholar Service Trips, my favorite part of the trips is observing and facilitating the scholars’ light bulb moments throughout the week.

For example, scholars share things such as, “The person I met today who is experiencing homelessness has a college degree–I never realized that homelessness can happen to anyone.” Or, “I never thought about how important it is to just make eye contact with people who are on the streets. I never really understood how experiencing homelessness can make someone feel invisible.” These lessons stay with the scholars long after the service trip ends.

The Elks Scholar Service Trips exist to offer Elks scholars the opportunity to learn about societal issues, serve in the name of the Elks, and to connect with their Elks family. Today’s Elks scholars can be tomorrow’s Elks if they are able to see the benefits of membership by engaging with Elks members in service.

Programming and reflections are a big part of an Elks Scholar Service Trip and are based on the premise of “The Active Citizen Continuum” which is a part of the Break Away: the Alternative Break Connection, Inc. resources. This continuum categorizes citizens into different categories based upon one’s level of concern for community and societal issues ranging from the least engaged citizen, a member, to the most engaged who prioritizes community in his/her values and life choices, an active citizen.

The Active Citizen Continuum
While it is my hope that all of the students will leave the trip as active citizens, so touched by their experience that they simply can’t continue to stand by and allow those around them to suffer, I understand that each person will manifest this in his/her own way beyond the trip. I always hope to hear about at least one scholar who becomes actively involved within the Elks or his/her community beyond the trip.

Have you ever heard The Starfish Story? It tells the story of a young man who is picking up starfish one by one and throwing them back into the ocean so that they won’t die. An observer comments that he will never be able save all of the starfish and that he can’t possibly make a difference, to which the young man replies, “It made a difference for that one.”

The Starfish Story

The Starfish Story has taken on a new meaning for me since I started working at the Elks National Foundation. I used to look at its message in terms of the individuals I was serving, but now I look at in terms of our scholars’ perspectives and involvement in their communities beyond the Elks Scholar Service Trips.
Because the Elks National Foundation invests so intentionally in its scholars through initiatives like the Elks Scholar Service Trips, the ENF is able to multiply the “one,” by allowing up to 20 scholars, three times per year to take part in an immersive service experience. Scholars not only become transformed through their service experiences, but they also become invested in the Order, as they truly feel welcomed into the Elks Family through meeting local Elks members.

Since returning from the Winter 2016 Trip, I’ve been so thankful to hear about many of our scholars’ changed perspectives and renewed dedication to their communities. Patrick Clerkin will be joining us on the Spring 2016 Elks Scholar Service Trip and using his experience from the Winter 2016 Trip to lead as the Elks Scholar Leader in Washington, D.C. Timothy Diovanni is volunteering with a homeless shelter in Midtown Manhattan this weekend, an opportunity he has pursued because of his experience on the trip. Jessica Phan is getting involved with Pomona College’s Alternative Service Break program this semester. Van Truong volunteered at her sponsoring Lodge, Port Orange, Fla. Lodge No. 2723 just a few days after returning from the Winter 2016 Trip.
Van with members of the Port Orange, Fla., Lodge No. 2723
serving together on Martin Luther King Jr., Day
But I didn’t have to wait until after the trip to see our scholars stepping up to live out what they learned during the trip.

The last day of the Winter Trip, we got to see the Golden Gate Bridge and explore San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf. The scholars had packed their lunches, but many of them returned at the end of the two hours of free time at Fisherman’s Wharf and shared that they had gotten to hand their lunches out to people experiencing homelessness after choosing to buy their own meals. I think it’s safe to say, they’re already making a difference “for that one.”

Game Faces–our scholars are serious about service!
Maryann Slater
Programs Relationship Associate 

We know Elks scholars are dedicated to service. Elks scholars now have the opportunity to come together in service with their Elks scholar peers. In 2015-16, the Elks National Foundation will offer three Elks Scholar Service Trips for up to 20 Elks scholars each. They are scheduled for the summer, winter and spring in locations from coast to coast. These trips provide scholars the opportunity to learn about societal issues, serve those in need in the name of the Elks, and connect with their Elks Family from across the country. For more information about the trips, click here.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Level Up!

Lauren Barnes
Donor Services Assistant
 
Making sure certificates are organized during
the monthly Cumulative Recognition process!
It’s crazy how fast time flies at the Elks National Foundation. I can’t believe I’ve already been the Donor Services Assistant for almost 8 months! It feels like I just started yesterday. In that time, I have had the honor of hearing from many generous Elks around the country, as well as ENF Fundraising Chairs who have had the opportunity to recognize members for their gifts to the Foundation.

As the Donor Services Assistant, I am in charge of running the Cumulative Recognition process each month. This means I organize and mail letters, certificates and pins to donors who have reached different giving levels over their lifetime. If you’re interested in learning more about the Individual Cumulative Recognition levels, please visit our website.


What’s great about the Cumulative Recognition program you ask? Pins of course! Each level of giving comes with a different pin. You can add these to your collection and wear them proudly to your Lodge, Grand Lodge Convention, or just for fun!
Recognition is also an assurance that you know we value your gifts and want to make sure that you are properly thanked. You are making such a big difference in Elk communities and we want to make sure you know your gifts will go far.

It never ceases to amaze me how generous Elks really are. Whether it’s a first time donation, or an Elk who has been donating for years, I am always humbled to hear from ENF Fundraising Chairs who recognize donors for their immense generosity.

Once such Chair is Amanda Jung of Orange Lodge No. 1475 in Orange, California. Amanda works hard to make sure her members are recognized for all of their hard work and support. When I recently heard about a recognition ceremony that Amanda organized, I had to share this story…Amanda states:

“I was honored to present Mr. Colin Smith, PER with the Elks National Foundation’s Permanent Benefactor pin and certificate at the Orange Elks Lodge meeting on Wednesday, December 9, 2015. Colin Smith has donated a total of $2,000 or more to the Elks National Foundation…Colin made his first donation to the ENF in May of 2004. His wife, Nicole, and son, Bradley (4 years old!), have also made donations to the Elks National Foundation over the years. In addition, Colin is a member of the ENF Fidelity Club.”

Before I started at the ENF, if you told me you know a 4-year-old who makes charitable gifts, I might think you’re teasing me. But as you can see with Bradley, it goes to show you’re never too young to make a difference.
Take Thomas Whealon of Fond du Lac, Wis., Lodge No. 57—
seen here proudly displaying his Permanent Benefactor certificate.

“Thomas Whealon is just one of our many members who realizes the importance of making a donation to the Elks National Foundation. Veterans and youth across our state benefit from the  donations our members make year after year. Thomas is shown receiving his Permanent Benefactor Certificate ($2,000) from Don Behnke, PER, Lodge No. 57 ENF Fundraising Chair. Thank you Tom!”

Paul Bradigan of
Kittanning, Pa. Lodge No. 203
being presented
his Permanent Benefactor award
from ER Dan Gallagher.
With all of these Permanent Benefactor stories, our donors make it look easy to give where you can. Take Paul’s advice, “It wasn’t hard. You just do a little at a time over the years. It’s even easier now that you can contribute online. ENF is a great cause.” Thanks for all of your support Paul!

Please consider thanking Lodge members for their generosity and hold a ceremony to show your support. Also, email pictures to me at LaurenB@elks.org or post recognition photos to the Elks National Foundation Facebook page the next time you present an award to your members. We love to hear from our Elks who are making a difference!


Lauren Barnes
Donor Services Assistant




With nearly 800,000 members and more than 1,900 Lodges nationwide, Elks are providing charitable services that help build stronger communities across the United States. The Elks National Foundation, the charitable arm of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, helps Elks build stronger communities through programs that support youth, serve veterans, and meet needs in areas where Elks live and work. To learn more, visit www.elks.org/enf.