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Florida Elks News Editor:
Rachael King
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Florida State Elks Association Inc.
P.O. Box 49
Umatilla, FL 32784-0049

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2731 year

On May 19, Zephyrhills Lodge presented the Zephyrhills High School yearbook staff with a $500 check in The Bull Pen media room. The donation will pay for eight students to attend a three-day seminar in Orlando, Florida, where they will learn all the ins and outs of creating a yearbook, including publishing and marketing their product. The students participating are Ava Stephens, Dylan Fleshood, Benjamin Will, Ashley Ford, JT Dobbins, Ariana Cotto, Thanh Tran and Kaiden Lee.

Pictured are Thomas Fernandez, teacher; Ann McDonald, Chaplain; Ava Stephens and Dylan Fleshood, students; and Marie Vesta, Exalted Ruler.


1079 grassi

Field Service Officer David Grassi had been with the Orange County Sheriff's Office nearly 19 years, serving residents and visitors. He started in 2003 as a 911 operator. In 2008, he became a field service officer, civilian employees who direct traffic and look for parking violations as well as respond to non-emergency, non-in-progress calls such as burglary, theft and stolen vehicle calls. On Dec. 11, 2021, while working off-duty monitoring a lane closure on I-4 eastbound near the Kaley Street exit early in the morning, FSO Grassi’s marked patrol vehicle was struck by another driver, and he was transported to the hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries. FSO Grassi died in the line of duty. His widow, Nancy, is also a member of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office family; she has been an emergency communications specialist in the Communications Center since 2007. Orlando Elks Lodge #1079 presented Mrs. Grassi with a donation of $1,000 to help her financially.

Pictured May 12 are OCSO Master Deputy Carmen Rivera, lodge trustee, and Nancy Grassi.


2731 y

On April 7, Zephyrhills Elks Lodge #2731 donated $1,500 to the Zephyrhills YMCA. All donations to the YMCA are used for scholarships for children in need for summer camp and swimming lessons and safety. The YMCA serves the community and brings people together with youth programs and community health programs.

Pictured are Alex Delgado, Zephyrhills YMCA operations manager, and Marie Vesta, Exalted Ruler.


1873 cancer

On Feb. 15, Kissimmee Elks Lodge #1873 used its $2,500 Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant to support a cancer resource room at HCA Florida Osceola Hospital in Kissimmee. The service is run strictly on donations and provides wigs, bras and other supplies to cancer patients.

Jeannie Platt, Lodge Secretary (center), presents the check to volunteer staff members.


1079 drugcon 1 1079 drugcon 2

On Feb. 7, Orlando Lodge held an award ceremony for the 2022-2023 Drug Awareness poster contest for participants at Waterford Elementary School. This year's theme was One Pill Can Kill. Master Deputy Carmen Rivera of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office is the Drug Awareness Lodge Chair and coordinated the contest for students in grades three through five. She also educated them about the dangers of substance abuse and was assisted by art teacher Donna Lindsay. The lodge provided refreshments after the presentation. The top 10 winners were given a trophy and a cash prize. The first place winner received $100, the second place winner received $75 and the third place winner received $50. Seven honorable mentions received $10. The rest of the participants received a medal. The top three winners really thought about their message and artwork. First place winner, Isabella Mata, displayed how drugs can be a negative impact in her life and if she lived without drugs, she can have a brighter future in music, sports, awards, graduation and even a happy home. Rivera asked second place winner, Charlotte Overstreet, what inspired her design and she said she had a family friend who died of an overdose. She used beautiful colors for the large pills on her drawing, and ironically, pills in society are taking many shapes and colors to look pretty or alluring. Unfortunately, it may look pretty but pills can be deadly if not used properly or if purchased from the streets. Third place winner, Marianadrea Sangronis, moved here from Venezuela a few months ago and doesn’t speak much English but she understood the contest rules and wanted to depict a young girl making the right decision, despite peer pressure or bad influence. She said that being cool means being drug-free. The participants’ artwork was displayed at the school so the other children can read, see and learn the message through art.

Pictured in the first row are Isabella Mata, Charlotte Overstreet and Marianadrea Sangronis. In the second row are Danielle Arblaez-Willis, principal; Victor Barrios, trustee; Master Deputy Carmen Rivera; Tony Schiappa, Central District Vice President; Jossie Haven, Lecturing Knight; Donna Lindsay, art teacher; and Jody Richards, trustee.

Also pictured are the top three posters.


2731 jay

On Jan. 5, Barbara Conklin, Community Activities Chair of Zephyrhills Elks Lodge #2731, organized the monthly Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce breakfast at the lodge.  Michael Nauman, the lodge cook, made breakfast, which was served by Elks volunteers. The lodge spent $425.57 from its general account. These types of events help to publicize what they do for the community. Jay Klamer, Exalted Ruler, welcomed and thanked the chamber members for attending and spoke about Elks charities, including the Florida Elks Youth Camp, Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services, the lodge’s Feed the Kids program and local services to veterans.

Pictured is Jay Klamer, Exalted Ruler, addressing the chamber breakfast guests. Looking on is Jasmine Wilkins, chamber director.


1079 salome

On Feb. 4, Orlando Elks Lodge #1079 presented a $500 donation to Salome Piedrahita for family financial assistance. Piedrahita, who was born in Colombia, South America, is a 22-year-old nursing student at the University of Central Florida. She also works full-time and is the guardian of her 11-year-old twin siblings, Maria and Nicolas Delarosa, who are diabetic. Maria and Nicholas were born in New York like their father, Jose Delarosa. These three siblings have lost both of their parents. Their mother passed away in 2015 and their father (Piedrahita’s stepfather) passed away in April 2021. An aunt from New York wanted to take the children, but Piedrahita refused. With the help of her school advisors, she obtained full custody of her siblings. She admits it has been difficult raising the children without her parents, but she is working hard to provide a happy home. 

In November 2020, lodge member Carmen Rivera invited the family to the lodge to pick up a fully cooked Thanksgiving dinner. In October 2021, Maria won third place in the lodge Drug Awareness poster contest. Rivera said that when Maria received the monetary award, she said she was going to buy groceries with the money. “It almost broke my heart and I told her to keep the money to buy something nice for herself. I spoke to Salome and told her to have the children take home groceries after school from the food bank at Waterford Elementary School. The Orlando Elks bingo volunteers and players donate food and school supplies that go directly to several schools in our community, including Waterford Elementary,” said Rivera. 

In the summer of 2022, the lodge sponsored Nicholas and Maria to summer camp at the Florida Elks Youth Camp. Salome said that "it was a great opportunity for the children to be outdoors, meet new friends and get out of their small apartment." She hopes that the children will be able to attend this summer, and if so, the lodge will sponsor them again.

Rivera added that “all in all, Salome doesn't have a family here in Orlando but she has us. Orlando Elks Lodge #1079 is proud and honored to help this young family by applying our principles of charity, brotherly love and fidelity….it really does take a village to raise a child.”

Pictured are Nicholas Delarosa; Salome Piedrahita; Donna Hoffman, Exalted Ruler; Maria Delarosa; and Carmen Rivera, lodge trustee.


2731 schol

On Jan. 20, Zephyrhills Lodge granted a $1,000 scholarship to Zephyrhills High School student Katelyn English-Merle to attend the National Youth Leadership Forum (NYLF), where she will earn college credits through George Mason University. Katelyn will be attending the Boston campus, where she will experience the college lifestyle, learn from doctors, have interactive curriculum by advisors and visit an accredited medical school. She and other students will also test their medical knowledge during clinical skill rotations and explore professional opportunities among high school students. Her tuition for the program is $3,995. She was awarded $500 through NYLF along with the lodge scholarship. Her parents will cover her travel expenses to Boston.

Pictured are Jay Klamer, Exalted Ruler, and Katelyn English-Merle.



Kissimmee Elks Lodge #1873 hosted a foster family event for 200 children Dec. 10. Working with Embrace Families of Osceola County, the lodge used the Elks National Foundation Beacon and Spotlight grants for a fun day. While parents chose gifts for the children, at no cost to them, their children were occupied with crafts, games, food, Santa and bounce houses. This was the seventh year for this event.

Pictured is the main room filled with gifts from donations around the county.


2731 1

On December 14, Zephyrhills Lodge hosted its annual Christmas party for adult residents of Angel Heart, who are mentally disabled. The residents received stuffed animals from Santa Claus, which are donated by Ken Fabiani, PER. The lodge donated $500 for the stockings and lunch, which consisted of hamburgers, fries, punch and ice cream. The cookies were donated by lodge members. Member and musician Barry Oliver donated his time and music for dancing and singing. Dottie Sollmann chaired the event.

Pictured are guests at the party.



On Dec. 1, Brooksville Elks Lodge members shopped for their annual Hernando County Foster Children's Christmas party with funds from the Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant. There were 108 children from foster care and their parents in attendance. Children received gifts and parents were given gift cards to purchase food. 

Shopping for gifts are Robert Hinton; Carr Hussey, Exalted Ruler; Nora Hughson; Doranda Hinton; Jane Hussey; Cindy Griffiths; Peter Berna and Sherry Mackeil.


            2520 ang 2520 kiddy

On Oct. 17, Aripeka Elks Lodge #2520 presented two $500 checks to local organizations. One was to the Three Lakes RV Park, which works with Angela's House, a group home for adults who are severely disabled. The money will be used for supplies for everyday living fun. The other check was to the Kiddy Up Ranch, a nonprofit animal-facilitated program designed to address the emotional, social and cognitive goals of children. Pictured presenting the checks to organization representatives is Thomas Carlow, Exalted Ruler, right.