by Colleen Muszynski
Senior Associate, Community Investments Program
Four college campuses, four Lodges, 405 miles, four days—Jenna and the CIPsters packed all of that into our #ScholarCIPMegaTrip. It looks like four might be my new lucky number, because our barnstorming adventure in the Carolinas was equal parts invigorating, inspiring and fun.
I spend most of my work-week at my desk, communicating with Impact Grant Lodges across the country through email and phone calls. I’m continually impressed with the good work Elks can do with the Impact Grant. However, going out and physically meeting the volunteers that make it happen and seeing the project in action takes my passion for this job to a whole new level.
We visited four Impact Grant Lodges on our trip. Can a quick paragraph on each adequately illustrate how inspirational these projects and project leadership truly is? Probably not, but I’m going to give it the ‘ol college try!
|Visiting with members of the Hickory Lodge|
Hickory, N.C., Lodge No. 1654: The Lodge’s Helping Hands Soup Kitchen project is a no-nonsense way to get community members to come to the Lodge one Sunday a month while the town’s regular soup kitchen is closed. Project managers Art Drumheller and Carole Anderson made sure a hefty crowd of Lodge members were on hand for our visit. We got an epic tour of the Lodge, including the facilities used to store food, tents, toys and other items given to these families in need through the project. We finished the visit with a wonderful conversation about the Lodge’s community involvement over some of the best snacks ever.
Morganton, N.C., Lodge No. 1852: Upon arrival at the Lodge, we walked into project manager Eddie Hicks and his crew diligently packing bags full of food for the End Hunger on Weekends program. It takes a razor focused army to pack more than 200 bags of food for kids in need, and the Morganton team has it down to a science—they open the Lodge doors, pull Eddie’s SUV right up to the entrance, and create an assembly line from table to car! We joined the Lodge for a baked spaghetti dinner after packing, and got to know the membership, the community and how the Elks make a difference every day.
|Checking out the Elks Clothesline for Kids project in action!|
Asheville, N.C., Lodge No. 608: It’s not very often dusting off my favorite 90’s board game Mall Madness will help me prepare for my job, but Asheville’s Elks Clothesline for Kids project made me wish I would have. At an outlet mall, we project managers Rick Rice and Nora Jones along with a bus full of students in middle and high school, ready to shop. These students were identified in need by their teachers. Shopping is a big deal for teens who might not always have the chance to choose their own clothes because many rely on hand-me-downs or bags of donations from Goodwill. We certainly shopped ‘til we dropped—three hours of shopping fun with Asheville flew by!
|Pause for a group photo at the Pendleton Lodge.|
Pendleton, S.C., Lodge No. 2861: Walking into the fire station was like walking into a reunion for my southern #ElksFamily—a potluck and countless South Carolina Elks were ready to welcome us. We were able to meet with and hear from parents who have children participate in the Lodge’s On a Mission summer camp for middle school students. It’s incredible that this small but mighty Lodge, with only 55 members and no Lodge permanent building, Pendleton has the heart and work ethic to pull off such an involved Impact Grant project.
Four is not only my new lucky number, but it’s the number of blog posts coming your way about the #ScholarCIPMegaTrip. Keep checking back for recaps from my lovely and talented road warriors, Chelsea, Jenna and Jocelyn! If you want to read even more about the trip, check out a recap from the trip here.