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Here for You, if Not There for You

by Jim O'Kelley
Director, Elks National Foundation

Darkness falls on an empty Elks Veterans Memorial.
I can’t get Jon Bon Jovi out of my head. Specifically, I’m stuck on the five words he swore to all of us: “I’ll be there for you.”

Alas, we cannot be there for you--there being our offices in the Elks Veterans Memorial. Illinois currently is under a mandate from the Governor to shelter in place through April 7, at least. But we are here for you.

The ENF began transitioning to a remote workplace last week. As of today, all 18 of us are out of the office and working normal business hours from home. We’re as passionate about helping you build stronger communities as we ever were. As my colleague Debbie Kahler Doles says, “The office may be closed, but the mission continues.”

If you need to reach us, email or a phone call are your best bets. We do have a solution for old-fashioned mail, but it will be a few days at least before that solution is up to speed.

Although they’re no longer working together in our converted lunchroom, the Grants Department is busily reviewing and approving final reports for CIP projects. They’re working hard to keep Lodges in grant compliance for the Gratitude Grant launch on April 1. These grants will range up to $3,000 and have flexible guidelines. We hope you’ll consider donating your Gratitude Grant to an organization in the community that’s providing critical services.

As of last week, 1,472 Lodges had surpassed the giving goal to qualify to for a Gratitude Grant. We expect that number to swell to 1,675 in the last two weeks of the fiscal year as more Lodges submit their year-end remittances.

All other grant components are on hold until June 1. As we get a clearer picture of what our communities need and how the Elks can help, we may adjust the grant program accordingly. Stay tuned.

Speaking of year-end remittances, Donor Services is processing donations as quickly as it can. All donations received through the mail as of March 20 are in the hands of staff members working remotely. Anything that comes in through the mail between today and the 31st will be processed eventually, but there could be a delay. If you are preparing to send us a remittance, please consider sending it electronically. You’ll find more information here:
https://www.elks.org/ENF/chairmen/LodgeChair.cfm
My new work space. My co-workers here are louder and more demanding than the ones at the office.
Our remote workers have easy access to electronic remittances; they can get to them a lot faster than mailed remittances.

We’re here for our Elks scholars, too. As the father of a college freshman who is beyond bored during his spring break at home and is slightly freaked out about having to finish the semester online, I don’t want our scholars worrying about whether their scholarships have been paid. We’re processing payments and sending money electronically when necessary. (Turns out lots of offices are closed!) #ElksFamily is not just a hashtag. We’re taking care of our scholars.

We’re also gearing up to welcome a new batch of scholars to the family next month. National judging for Most Valuable Student and Legacy scholarships are under way. Many high school seniors may miss out on prom and graduation thanks to the Coronavirus crisis. But there are better things beyond, like college. We’re going to help 800 seniors go to college in the fall.

Finally, we hope that we can be a source of inspiration and strength for you. We’ve worked together toward so many successes, and we’re going to keep sharing those stories on social media and other channels. Not in a way that ignores the Coronavirus crisis, but rather to demonstrate that the communities we’ve built together are strong enough to get us through it. #ElksAlwaysCare

We are here for you. Don’t hesitate to reach out.

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