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Minne-appolis, Big Impact

Jocelyn Moya
ENF Programs Assistant


This week I, along with my two wonderful colleagues Colleen and Maryann, was able to experience firsthand the work Lodges across the country are taking part in—and it was exceptional. The information we’re able to gather when reviewing grant applications or reading project reports can only go so far—the ability to visit a Lodge, see a project in action, and meet the wonderful and hardworking volunteers who put it all together really puts the cherry on top.

Checking out the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden



In the Minneapolis suburban area, there are two Lodges using an Impact Grant to tackle one very important issue: combating teen homelessness. However, the only similarities between the two projects are the great group of volunteers behind them and the impact they’re making.

CIPsters learning about such a great partnership!

An Avenue to a Future


At Minneapolis, Minn., Lodge No. 44, volunteers work with one single partner organization, Avenues for Homeless Youth, to assist the teen residents and staff of this transitional housing program.

The facility houses ten teens and leaves one bed open for emergency situations. The Elks work with the facility to ensure residents have basic necessities, cook weekly meals at the residence, and help maintain the grounds. The most incredible part of this project is how much the community was behind opening this facility. From talking with Lodge members and Avenues staff, it became evident that this was a project the community was really pushing for. In fact, it only took 18 months for the city to approve and build the center. Since day one, the Lodge has been there to help support the facility and its residents in any way necessary.


Hope in Hopkins

Debbie and Colleen having a fun time setting up the backpacks.
While visiting Hopkins, Minn., Lodge No. 2221, we had the opportunity to help assemble hygiene packs the Lodge provides to teens and meet with a few of the community partners they work with. The most inspirational part of the visit was seeing how this project has grown in terms of community partners and support. There is a really exceptional group of volunteers doing a lot of fantastic work, but beyond that they’re bringing in local community groups from churches to softball teams to Boy and Girl Scouts to stuffing parties at people’s homes to get them all involved and invested in the cause.

In the beginning, Project Manager DeDe Noll Kelm stated that when they debuted these bags people would snatch them up right away. But, as they began to see the Elks would actually stick around the organizations started taking only what they needed. At MoveFwd, one of the organizations that we stopped by to chat with, it became clear how much the relationship with the Lodge has grown and how much trust has been built. The Executive Director, Lydia Kihm, said, “The project has morphed and now we’re not panicky they’re going to disappear.” This speaks so much to the reliability of Teaming Up for Teens and their ability to adapt to the needs of those they’re helping. The Housing Manger chimed in and said teens come to them looking for the bags which allows MoveFwd to then connect them to added support and resources.

We were also able to visit a school and speak to the counselors and social workers and Treehouse another organization aimed at helping teens who are at-risk succeed, everyone had nothing but praises for the Elks and were so thankful for the support the bags provide.

Community is Key


The efforts of combined work!
After visiting with both of these great Lodges and meeting all the committed volunteers tackling this one critical issue in such different ways, I can say that the most important part of any successful project is the community. At the Minneapolis Lodge, they were lucky to have the community behind them to support this cause but without the community who knows if the project would have been possible today. At Hopkins, the Lodge had to work hard to gain the trust of the local organizations serving teens and they did. Now they’re bringing in the rest of the local community to build added support.


Both projects have been able to use the different strengths of their communities to make impactful and inspiring change. I could go on for days about the remarkable time we had in such a short time but instead, take a look at photos from our trip here. After our Minneapolis experiences, I can’t wait for the opportunity to see more Elks and their communities in action!



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