On Feb. 23rd, Cocoa Elks Lodge #1532 donated a Firefly chair to Macy, a local child with the rare disease Miller-Dieker Syndrome. Her new chair will enable this lovely 4-year-old to sit up independently. Her parents wrote a thank-you to the lodge, saying, "We can’t thank you enough for her amazing chair!! This is going to allow her to feel more inclusive.” This donation was made possible with funds from the Florida State Elks matching Beacon grant.
Through several March charity events, Cocoa Lodge raised $2,000 for the Cocoa Police Department for their Cocoa Community First program. Lodge member Lynn Yawn is pictured with members of the Cocoa Police Department.
In March, Cocoa Lodge raised $1,750 through several charity events to donate to The Children’s Hunger Project. Lodge members Beth Scarborough and Bonnie Pippin present the donation to Cheryl Cominsky and Stacy Benezra.
At the end of March, Cocoa Elks Lodge #1532 held an Elvis impersonator charity event and raised $1,500 for The Family Promise of Brevard. The Family Promise's goal is to empower families experiencing homelessness to create a path toward stable, long-term housing and provide peace and security along the journey. Pictured are Jane Higgins of Family Promise and lodge member Marlene Weiss.
On March 20, Viera Lodge hosted their 16th annual golf classic at the Rockledge Country Club, which was organized by longtime member Karen Renzi. They had a full field and raised more than $6,500, which will be used on the lodge, youth and veterans programs.
On Feb. 19 and Feb. 20, Viera Lodge hosted a district visitation for State President Rudy Masi Sr. and his wife, Dolly. Exalted Ruler Jerry Harrington, PER presented a $2,000 check using funds from the lodge’s Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant to Tara Pagliarini, Executive Director of Family Promise of Brevard County. Family Promise collaborates with the community to provide families experiencing homelessness with the support and resources they need to put themselves on a path toward long-term housing. Pictured are Masi Sr., Pagliarini, Dolly Masi and Harrington.
On Jan. 13, Viera Elks Lodge #2817 presented $2,000 from the lodge’s Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant to Genesis House, a facility which provides transitional shelter for women and their children experiencing homelessness, long-term housing for student mothers and their children, and shelter for pregnant women and their children experiencing homelessness. John Harris, PSP presents the check to Kristin Snyder of Genesis House.
On March 29, Cocoa Elks Lodge members donated 50 Easter baskets to the Boys & Girls Club of Central Florida. The club handed out the baskets April 1 to boys and girls ages 6 to 18. The Elks were happy to share the first bit of normalcy the kids have had in more than a year. Pictured outside the lodge are Erin Harmening, Cocoa Elks House Committee Chair; Brenda Jenkins, lodge member; Erin C. Harvey, development officer of Brevard County, Boys & Girls Club of Central Florida; and Beth Scarborough, lodge Tiler.
Lexie Laoutas, principal of White City Elementary School in Fort Pierce, Florida, contacted the Fort Pierce Elks backpack program Friday, March 19, and asked if they could donate small bottles of water for students. Due to COVID-19, all student water fountains have been shut down and many students do not have the funds to bring in bottles of water. Using donated backpack program funds, volunteers immediately went out and purchased 12 cases of 48-packs and 18 cases of 24-packs of water for a total of 1,008 bottles and delivered them to the school Monday morning, March 22. In a thank-you letter from Principal Laoutas, she wrote, “…we are unable to allow students access to the water fountains and rely on parents to send their children to school with their own bottled water. For various reasons that does not always happen and we rely on the generosity of others to fill that need. We are so grateful to the Elks lodge for the generosity and continued support of our students.”
Pictured are Yovanna Perdomo, site foreman; Lexie Laoutas, principal; and Fort Pierce Elks backpack volunteers Patricia Swayngim, PER, Exalted Ruler-elect; PDDs Lenny & Barb Smallacombe; Betty Foster, Leading Knight; and Scott Borror.
Vero Beach Lodge works directly with guidance counselors to select worthy students for scholarships and tends to favorably consider those who want to pursue vocational training. On Feb. 26, the lodge held a fundraiser for these scholarships and $1,800 was raised. The event was a tribute to Dean Martin. Pictured are Felix Deneau Jr., guest artist, and Ernie Simiele, lodge member, doing a Dean Martin songfest.
On Feb. 9, Vero Beach Elks Lodge #1774 held an awards ceremony for the winners of the Americanism essay contest; this year’s theme was “How Can Patriotism be Demonstrated?” The finalists and their families and many teachers and principals were in attendance. Pictured are this year’s winners. In the back row are Jim McFadyen, Lodge Americanism Chair; Khaola Roman, third place in Division II from Storm Grove Middle School; Elizabeth Hall, second place in Division II from Storm Grove Middle School; Paige Keen, first place in Division II from Storm Grove Middle School; Vanessa-Lopez Romanowiz, third place in Division I from Sebastian Elementary School; and Rich Miller, Exalted Ruler. In the front row are William Scott, second place in Division I from Sebastian Elementary School, and Johnathon Phan, first place in Division I from Treasure Coast Elementary School. Each received a certificate and a gift card to Walmart of varying denominations. The third place winners received a $50 card, the second place winners received a $75 card and the first place winners received a $100 card. All six finalists won at the district level and their essays were forwarded to the state for judging. For two of the last three years, the lodge has had state winners who received a check for $1,500 and they and their families were treated to a weekend in Orlando, Florida, to attend the Florida Elks state convention and read their essay at the luncheon meeting.
Melbourne Elks Lodge #1744 donated $4,500 from its Elks National Foundation Gratitude and Spotlight grants to the Melbourne Police Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization, to help purchase 100 food vouchers for precooked Christmas turkey dinners to families affected by the pandemic. Each dinner fed up to 10 people for a total meal count of 1,000 meals. The dinners consisted of a 12-15 lb. turkey, sweet potato casserole, stuffing, cranberry sauce and a marshmallow delight dessert. Pictured at the donation presentation are Officer Chris Livingston, motorcycle patrolman; Commander Charles Carafono, police operations; Nadine Smith, past president of the Melbourne Police Foundation; Joyce Madden, Exalted Ruler; and Thomas Wojnar, Lodge Esquire and Lodge Grant Writer.