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A Scholarly Evening

by Jennifer Rice
Donor Services Coordinator 
Hello! My name is Jennifer Rice, and I’m delighted to introduce myself via blog as one of the Elk National Foundation’s new staff members. Ever since starting my role as a Donor Services Coordinator mid-April, walking into the incredibly ornate Elks National Memorial and Headquarters each morning has been a joy itself. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in history, and the gorgeous structure built to honor US service men and women following the Great War always leaves me awestruck.        
                                   
Inside the building, I’m constantly learning computer procedures that the Donor Services team uses as we receive and record the gifts given by the ENF’s generous donors. Previously, I was in front-end/direct service, so it’s been an interesting transition learning to run the behind-the-scenes tasks of an organization.

Much of my work experience prior to joining the ENF involved serving youth and young adults, including youth ministry, childcare, and behavioral health support. I greatly enjoy speaking with younger age groups because they often have unique insights and great dreams for their futures and our world.

One aspect of the ENF I admire most is the Foundation’s commitment to serving youth and their families through the Hoop Shoot program, by providing academic scholarships, and promoting literacy. So, when I learned about the opportunity for ENF staff to have dinner with the Elks scholars who were in town for the 2019 Summer Service Trip, I was ecstatic!

I had NO idea how intimidated I would have been to share a meal with these college students and recent graduates. Under the beautiful dome of the Memorial building, I met some of our nation’s future leaders, which I say this with all certainty because their intellect is matched by their passion for serving others! I was humbled and inspired by every scholar I chatted with about their studies and volunteerism.

One young lady shared that she is leading a group of classmates on a veterinary-focused service trip in South America this summer. Another plans on devoting some of her free time during the school year to assist her university with grant applications for its various programs. Some of our scholars are studying scientific research with the goal to change peoples’ lives for the better. It was amidst these conversations I fully realized that Elks scholars are not only brimming with potential but are already doing so much good in our world.

The day after the dinner, my boss and I discussed our experiences with the scholars. We commiserated over our feelings of inadequacy brought on by our conversations with the unbelievably accomplished and smart 17- to 25-year-olds. But we also bonded over feeling a renewed sense of purpose since the dinner served as a vivid reminder for why we work for the ENF.

Our team is entrusted with the honor of processing gifts from generous donors, which are given to support the good of our local and national communities through programs like the Most Valuable Student scholarship and Legacy Awards. I am constantly learning new facets about the Elks National Foundation that astound me, and now I can add the individuals who we call Elks scholars to that list! 

In 2019-20, the Elks National Foundation will award $4.1 million in college scholarships, ensuring a bright future for our nation’s youth. As important members of the Elks family, Elks scholars have many social and service opportunities to connect with the Elks and one another. For more information about our scholarship programs, and for ways Lodges can get involved with Elks scholars, visit elks.org/scholars.

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