Friday, October 6, 2017

North Carolina, South Carolina—Serve Carolina


by Jocelyn Moya
Programs Assistant

Recently my colleagues and I had the opportunity to travel through North and South Carolina to connect with Elks scholars and to stop by a couple of Lodges. Have you ever been to a family reunion? No? Me either. I come from a very small family. I’d imagine family reunions are a lot like how I feel about this trip—an opportunity to meet almost strangers who you’re somehow able to easily relate with because you just so happen to be connected by a common thread—and excessive amounts of good food. I guess that’s why they call it #ElksFamily, huh?

While the common thread for family reunions might be actual DNA, I think for our #ElksFamily it’s a commitment to our community through service. You can see this commitment when talking to just one Elks scholar, hearing them connect with one another as a group, talking to Elks about why they’re involved in the Lodge, and hearing about membership gains from grant projects.

#ElksFamily Meet-up
I first saw the spark of this connection when we stopped at UNC to visit with some of the Elks scholars for coffee. I’d like to preface with the fact that every time I meet an Elks scholar I am always impressed by their drive, ability to dream big, and fit so much into their schedules. With big dreams and even bigger schedules, some scholars were only able to stay for a few minutes, others were there the whole time, and the rest fell somewhere in between. Even in this casual coming and going environment the thing that stuck out to me was how connected these scholars already were without knowing it! Two scholars already knew one another through a camp they serve at, another was connected through their campus community service group, and the list goes on. Every single scholar at that table was involved in community service and that just really struck me. The other thing that struck me about meeting up with scholars at UNC, Duke, and Highpoint University was their campuses. North Carolina is surely not lacking in higher education institutions with picturesque grounds!

Time for a biscuit break.
While the Lodges we visited may not have been the castle-like structures we saw on the campuses, they were some of the biggest and most-unique Lodges I’ve ever seen. Hickory Lodge No. 1654 used to house an old Chinese restaurant, Morgantown Lodge No. 1852 still has prohibition rooms complete with false walls, Asheville Lodge No. 608 reminded me of a Victorian era doll-house, and Pendleton Lodge No. 2861 doesn’t even have a Lodge building, but we got to tour their local Fire Department where they host their meetings! The outside of the Lodges may not have matched but the people inside them all shared the same heart of Elkdom and commitment to serving the community.

At Hickory a member mentioned, “My husband and I joined because of Helping Hands [the Lodge’s Impact Grant]. We've had a lot of members join because of the program."

See, I told you there were snacks.

Then just down the road at Morgantown the Exalted Ruler told us that the meetings with bag stuffing beforehand, get the most membership turnout. At Asheville and Pendleton, the spirit of community was present, too! The members at Pendleton boast the highest rate of Lodge member involvement in grant projects. It probably helps that they’re the second smallest Lodge in the state but it doesn’t combat the fact that they all have such a strong commitment to serving their community. Speaking of serving, each Lodge served us very well—with food that is! Snacks, baked spaghetti, and even a potluck. I am eternally full, thanks Carolinas!

Though I’d love to go into a full recap of every second of our trip, I’m not sure anyone has the time in the day to read that. If you’re still hungry for more trip details check out the ScholarCip MegaTrip Journal. Interested in perspectives from the other women on the trip? Start by checking out Colleen’s blog and stay tuned for Chelsea’s and Jenna’s to follow.

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