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Album Review: Road Tripping through the Carolinas ft. Jenna & the CIPsters


by Chelsea Dennis
Programs Assistant 


Clean air, towering mountains, and as Jocelyn nicely put, “great foliage” characterizes my experience road tripping with Jenna and the CIPsters (Do you like our band name? We should totally create an album cover). Although our prized possession is Lake Michigan, we Chicago folks don’t often get the chance to experience nature in our concrete universe. It was quite a joy to experience beautiful scenery on our #ScholarCIPMegaTrip through the Carolinas. In addition to experiencing breathtaking views from the back seat (I’ll admit I like to take too many naps to ever be the co-pilot), Elks scholars Madison and Brandon, so graciously volunteered to give us tours of UNC and Duke’s gorgeous arboretums. I won’t say which one I thought was best (I don’t want to start a war) but both were beautiful in their own right.

Jocelyn and Colleen listen to the Campus Whistler.
When we first arrived at UNC, we couldn’t pinpoint this mysterious whistling sound that seemed to follow us around campus. The mystery was soon solved when we encountered the campus whistler, a man who had come to the United States eight years ago and whistles while enjoying his daily walk through the garden. Madison, a senior Elks scholar, shared with us that the campus whistler rarely speaks to people so we were honored he took the time to share his story (our Elks shirts probably made it obvious we were out-of-towners).

In addition to visiting beautiful campuses, we got a chance to meet local Elks and hear about their CIP grant projects. At Hickory, N.C. Lodge No. 1654, we learned how involved the Lodge is in veteran initiatives. Actually, as Jenna will tell you in our final installment to this series, we learned during our visit to Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry (ABCCM), our partner for the upcoming Elks Scholar Service Trip, that the Lodge frequently partners with ABCCM! It was great to hear directly from the community about the positive impact Hickory is having, especially when it comes to best meeting the needs of today’s veterans.

Grant Coordinator Nora helping a student pick out boots.
Our next stop was Morganton, N.C., Lodge No. 1852, where we were greeted by an enthusiastic packing team. We jumped into the assembly line and helped pack weekend meals for children experiencing food insecurity. We even sat in on a Lodge meeting (a first for me) and chowed down on delicious baked spaghetti. 

On Wednesday, we hopped back in the car and traveled to Asheville, N.C., Lodge No. 608 where we assisted students in finding school clothing. Here’s a picture below that captures Grant Coordinator Nora and a student selecting the perfect pair of cowboy boots. 

Dreams do come true!
Before heading back to the airport, we rounded out our trip with a visit to Pendleton, S.C., Lodge No. 2861. While we conversed over a great potluck spread, we listened to members and parents discuss the merits of On a Mission, the Lodge’s summer camp for middle school students funded with an Impact Grant. One parent, who now serves as a volunteer for the program, illustrated how CIP grant projects can spring others into action. At the end of our gathering, I got to fulfill a lifelong dream of mine—riding (well sitting, but close enough) in a fire truck!  

Overall the trip was fantastic. Hearing first-hand about the impact Lodges make in the community is richer in detail than any Final Report Form can provide. I was so appreciative of how each Lodge welcomed us with open arms and really exemplified the phrase #ElksFamily. 

I hope you enjoyed this album review. Remember this series comes in fours so make sure to stay tuned to read more from lead singer Jenna, of the band Jenna and the CIPsters! In case you missed it, check out Colleen and Jocelyn's blog posts. 

P.S.—Here's a video of the Impact Grant in action at the Morganton, N.C. Lodge No. 1852. 



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