Vero Beach Elks Lodge #1774 and the Vietnam Veterans of Indian River County held the 10th annual car show on the lodge grounds Aug. 22 with 113 classic, antique, muscle and special-interest cars. All cars were spaced out due to the pandemic with masks required. The lodge raised $4,000 from registrations, a raffle, a 50/50, donations and sponsor contributions. Eleven trophies were awarded. Monies raised went to the lodge’s veterans fund and for veterans assistance programs and housing which are utilized throughout the year.
On Aug. 26, Viera Elks Lodge #2817 presented an automated external defibrillator (AED) to Family Promise of Brevard, an organization that collaborates with the community to provide families who are homeless with the support and resources they need to put themselves on a path toward long-term housing. The AED will be used in their resource center and offices. Pictured not wearing their face masks just for the picture are Mark Sexton, director of programs of Family Promise; Jane Higgins, outreach specialist of Family Promise; William Orblych, PDD; Wendy Carns, PER; and Tara Pagliarini, executive director of Family Promise.
Viera Elks Lodge #2817 continued their support of Genesis House, a facility in Melbourne, Florida, which provides transitional shelter for women and their children who are homeless, long-term housing for student mothers and their children, and shelter for pregnant women and their children who are homeless. Funding for Genesis House support is provided by an Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant. On March 21, the lodge provided them with a new document shredder. They also donated $825 for a mother and her child to attend parent-and-child therapy classes at the Florida Institute of Technology. These classes are still ongoing.
On March 23, Viera Lodge provided Family Promise of Brevard County a gift of $1,500 from an Elks National Foundation Promise Grant. Family Promise is an organization that collaborates with the community to provide families who are homeless with the support and resources they need to put themselves on a path toward long-term housing. They also provide emergency shelter, homeless prevention and stabilization services. The assistance was given when they were going to have to suspend their emergency housing program due to lack of funding.
Viera Lodge donated $1,000 from an Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant March 22 to the Children’s Hunger Project, a community project which provides for children who are at risk and who depend on meals provided at school but who are now homebound. An additional $1,000 donation was made from the same grant May 13 as well.
On Jan. 28, $6,200 was given from the kids’ charities account to the Cal Ripken League for a new T-ball field in Vero Beach, Florida, which will be used to instruct 6-8-year-olds how to play baseball and to teach sportsmanship. Vero Beach Lodge held their annual Valentine’s Ball Feb. 8 and raised $1,564 to support Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services and the Florida Elks Youth Camp. On March 6, a Neil Diamond tribute concert raised $3,000 for the Past Exalted Rulers scholarship program.
Using $1,000 raised at the annual Super Bowl Party Feb. 2 along with items donated by members, Vero Beach Lodge packed welcome boxes for The Hope for Families Center and The Samaritan Center of Vero Beach. The Hope for Families Center uses education, rules, training and requirements to build the foundation for long-term independence to teach families that are homeless the habits and routines necessary to sustain themselves. The center provides housing as well as a structured program that teaches families how to set expectations. The Samaritan Center provides affordable, supportive, transitional housing and support services to those who are homeless or who are close to homelessness.
On Jan. 28, Vero Beach Elks Lodge presented 29 stop-the-bleed kits, one for each area school, to the Indian River County School Board’s new superintendent, Dr. David Moore. The $2,247 used for this project came from the kids’ charities account. Shown are Richard Campbell, Esteemed Loyal Knight; Paul Diaz, Exalted Ruler; Dr. Moore; and Richard Miller, Esteemed Leading Knight and Community Activities Chair.
Viera Elks Lodge #2817 is continuing its support of Genesis House, a facility which provides transitional shelter for women who are homeless and their children, long-term housing for student mothers and their children, and shelter for pregnant women who are homeless and their children. Genesis House helps women become independent through education, self-discipline and self-reliance. The lodge supports this organization with their Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant. The lodge provided $200 to fund four children’s week at Camp Hope’s Christmas Camp. This program help families like those living at Genesis House with affordable child care during school breaks. Camp Hope provides at-risk children with a fun, safe and enriching place to spend time during breaks so parents don’t have to choose between their children and their jobs.
After seven months of planning, Fort Pierce Elks Lodge #1520 undertook the Operation 2019 Christmas backpack program at St. Lucie Public Schools including Lakewood Park Elementary School in Fort Pierce, Fla., where a local news station took video. The lodge used funds from the $10,000 Elks National Foundation Impact Grant, backpack lodge funds, and lodge member donations to buy food, new toys, school clothes, hygiene kits, snacks, Christmas candy, and more for hundreds of children who attend St. Lucie Public Schools and their families who are homeless. More than 30 Elks spent Dec. 8 sorting and packing thousands of items. St. Lucie Public Schools assisted by having two large school trucks pick up the 10 pallets loaded with holiday donations. The delivery was Dec 11. They also presented $100 checks to 10 schools to buy school logo shirts for students who helped other students during the holiday season. The Elks backpack program started by helping a few kids each weekend and six years later they are helping more than 300 kids with food items every weekend. This was their largest Christmas event with more than 1,000 kids helped. The program has 35-40 volunteers and many of them have helped since the program’s beginning, an integral reason for the program's growing success. All grants and donations go toward the program.
Melbourne Elks Lodge #1744 used the $5,000 from their Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant and the matching funds from the Florida State Elks Association to put together 200 Thanksgiving grocery packages that included a 12-15 pound turkey, green beans, mushroom soup, fried onion rings, corn, rice, five pounds of potatoes, stuffing, popcorn, Jello, gravy and cranberry sauce. The groceries were given to families whose children attend one of five area schools who might not have had a good Thanksgiving if not for the Elks.
On Oct. 12, the Port St. Lucie Elks Lodge motorcycle riders club put together over three pallets of goods and veterinary items for the Hurricane Dorian relief fundraiser. The donations were raised through their breakfast fundraiser, from lodge member donations and from themselves. Sheriff Ken Mascara was their police escort to the airport where Missionary Flights International is hangered. Exalted Ruler, Lynn Tripoli, was also present as they unloaded their truck and trailer full of goods and loaded them onto pallets that were then loaded onto a plane bound later that day to The Bahamas. Pete Jordan, president of the club, said, “It’s nice to see how people pull together to help one another in the time of need. It feels good to be a part of the fundraising for those distressed families. Hurricane Dorian was right off our Florida coast and just several miles away from our lodge and homes. That could have just as well been us in dire need of food and water. So being Elks, we care, we share and were there.”
Pictured are Jim and Nelly Devery; Lynn Tripoli, Exalted Ruler; Rick Rubinstein; Sheriff Ken Mascara; Pete Jordan, president; Dave Hedgcock; Larry Kristensen; Dan Shipco; Tom Randazzo, vice president; Denise Kristensen; Jill Randazzo; and Teresa Shipco. The photo was taken by Alex Jordan. Not pictured are Gina Jordan, treasurer; Mario and Vivian Orduz; Margie Hedgcock; and Jeanne Rubinstein. The entire club was instrumental in making this happen. Work and other priorities kept these members from attending the event but they were ever so much a part of this venture.
On Sept. 14, Viera Lodge member Billy Wirth, PER who was recently diagnosed with lymphoma offered to have his head shaved at the district visitation held at Stuart-Jensen Lodge. Wirth was beginning treatment the following week for the disease and wanted to have something positive to come from this dreadful situation. Having been a past first responder and having befriended District Vice President Sal Lentine before his untimely death, he wanted to have the proceeds of $500 go to the Elks’ first responder's fund in Lentine's name.
Vero Beach Elementary was awarded a Positive Behavior Intervention Specialist Award in association with the University of South Florida for 2018-2019 for being a model school for positive behavior. Vero Beach Elks Lodge has been a very important part of their success. Using their Elks National Foundation Impact Grant, the lodge continues its Elks store at the school, “Elks Love Kids of Character”, awarding children for their good deeds during the school year.
They also provide funds to the school to purchase uniforms for students who are homeless. In addition to funding, the Elks give their time; their presence at the school shows the students that their community cares about them.
Vero Beach Lodge Exalted Ruler, Paul Diaz, PER.; Pat Diaz; and June Maher, PER delivered school supplies to Vero Beach Elementary Aug. 8.