Skip to main content

Because They're Elks


by Cecily Froerer
2014 Most Valuable Student Scholar

My name is Cecily Froerer. I’m a junior at Utah State University where I’m studying Communicative Disorders and minoring in American Sign Language. Four years ago, I was a high school senior with two goals. First, obtain a college degree. Second, do so without any form of student loans. The second was a seemingly unattainable goal.

By some stroke of luck, I found myself in my high school’s office when two men from the local Elks Lodge shared information about the Most Valuable Student scholarship. As I continued about my week, I kept thinking about that scholarship. It was stuck in my mind. Eventually, I applied. Maybe, I would be able to get a little money for college from this. I couldn’t have dreamed what was about to happen.

The next year was a whirlwind of surprises. I watched as my scholarship application passed through the Lodge, to the district, and on to the state level! I was incredibly grateful, but I was also fairly confident that it would stop there. Nothing could have prepared me for being selected as one of the Top 20 National Finalists and attending the 2014 Leadership Weekend. As one of the MVS scholars, my unattainable goal suddenly became a reality!

Fast forward to 2018. In July, I participated in the 150 for 150 Service and Celebration Weekend with the Elks. At this point, it had been about three years since I’d really interacted with the Elks. I was excited to catch up with old friends and meet new ones. While I was there, I met Larry Hovorka, the Exalted Ruler, and his wife, Sally, from my Lodge. When you meet someone from the same Lodge, there is an instant, indescribable connection. I immediately sense their interest in me and my future, and I feel immense gratitude for their influence in my life; meeting the Hovorkas was no different.

As we packed bags for homeless veterans, the Hovorkas and I got to know each other. When I told them I was studying communicative disorders, with the hopes of someday becoming a speech pathologist, Sally stopped me. “Well, then you must know about Meadowood.”

I didn’t. As it turns out, Meadowood is a residential camp in my home state of Oregon that focuses on helping children with speech, language, and hearing challenges. In future years, I can volunteer there and gain experience in my field of study.

At this point, it’s becoming a bit unreal! Not only are the Elks funding my college education, they’re providing an entire camp where I can go and receive priceless experiences using what I have learned and love.

Were the Elks created as a resource just for me? Of course, I know they weren’t, and the camp isn’t about me either. It’s the Elks helping the children in their communities. But in true Elks fashion, those that serve can grow as much as those they’re serving. There is an endless web of people they are helping. I’ve personally seen it range from veterans to those experiencing homelessness. From children in need of eyeglasses to children with speech impediments. From an entire elementary school to a single college student trying to afford tuition.

While working with the Hovorkas, they asked me to come speak to my sponsoring Lodge. I quickly responded, “Absolutely! I love meeting Elks from my area!”

Going back to my local Lodge was overwhelming. From the moment I began planning my speech, I knew that I would never be able to do justice to the gratitude I feel. When I’m at my Lodge, I am always very aware of how much I owe them. My entire Elks experience started because of their efforts. They made my dream of a debt-free college education into reality.

Even though I felt nervous to address them, I knew the nerves weren’t needed. The moment I entered the Elks Lodge, I felt welcomed. They greeted me, introduced me to those I didn’t know, asked for my advice, and listened to what I had to say. There really isn’t a better way to explain it than Elks Family.

I encourage all Elks scholars to reach out to their local Lodge. It may seem intimidating to walk into a Lodge filled with strangers, but I promise, you won’t leave as strangers. It’s because they’re Elks. They help people. It’s who they are, and it’s what they do. And as Elks scholars, we’re blessed to be part of it.

Comments

Labels

Show more

Popular posts from this blog

What is Zoom?

by Jim O'Kelley
Director, Elks National Foundation

(This is the first in a series of articles about the need for Lodges to be relevant during the pandemic. To find all posts in the series, click here: #StaySafeBeRelevant.)

Every crisis seems to have its breakout star. This one has two, so far—Dr. Fauci and Zoom.
If you’re not familiar, Zoom is a remote video-conferencing tool with a free basic package. In these days of social distancing and sheltering in place, Zoom is also a godsend. At the O’Kelley household today, we had three concurrent Zoom meetings going on at one point—Meghan, me, and Jane with her Panda Room preschool pals.
In our new teleworking reality, the ENF staff has been using Zoom through Microsoft Teams for check-ins, standing meetings and impromptu discussions. These conferences have helped us stay connected and feel like we’re part of a team despite our isolation.
A couple of weeks ago, I saw on Facebook that Boonton, N.J., Lodge No. 1405 had installed its new c…

Hope in the Time of Coronavirus

by Jim O'Kelley
Director, Elks National Foundation What a difference a few weeks make. As I’m sure is the case with you, COVID-19 has upended things around here.

I’d like to take a few minutes to update you on how the pandemic has affected our staff and programs. I’ll start with the staff.

On Monday, there were 18 of us in the office. Yesterday, only five. Everyone else is working remotely from home. We’re all communicating with one another using wonderful technology. And the people at home have access to the network via work-issued laptops, as well as their work phones and email. Contacting us should be seamless for you. 

The skeleton crew in the office should shrink to four at some point this week. We are here to deal with the aspects of our work that do not lend themselves to working remotely.

You can help us further reduce our numbers. If you are a Lodge officer or ENF Fundraising Chair who has been sitting on a stack of donations, please send those in today. The faster we c…

See you at the Julebukking

by Jim O'Kelley
Director, Elks National Foundation
(Earlier this week, I started a series of posts on the need for Lodges to stay relevant during this time of isolation. This is the second post in the series—technically, the series became a series when I posted this. Anyway, read the first post here. To find all posts in the series, click here: #StaySafeBeRelevant.)
Humans have a fundamental need to connect. Scientists, psychologists, therapists, they’ll all tell you the same thing. Our culture may celebrate individualism, but we are wired to be around other people.
How else can you explain the existence of organizations like the Elks? It’s certainly not the dated titles or the jewels of office that go along with them. It’s not the many meetings that demand so much of our time if we want to rise through the ranks. It’s not even the desire to serve our communities.
The Elks have been around for 152 years because people need other people in our lives. Local Lodges satisfy that need.