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Florida Elks News Editor:
Rachael King
Entire contents copyright 2023 by the
Florida State Elks Association Inc.
P.O. Box 49
Umatilla, FL 32784-0049

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New Viera Lodge member Heidi Vargas hosted Salsa Night Feb. 5 with a Mexican buffet and salsa dance lessons. The event raised funds for a new charity for the lodge — the local chapter of Life Recaptured — an organization that supports those impacted by human trafficking. The donation amount was $700.


On Jan. 21, Viera Elks Lodge #2817 partnered with a popular local band, St. John’s Wood, for a charity gala to support one of the lodge’s favorite charities — Genesis House — a facility which provides transitional shelter for women and their children who are experiencing homelessness, long-term housing for student mothers and their children, and shelter for pregnant women and their children who are homeless. The band donated its time and tips for the charity; in all, the lodge raised $2,000 for Genesis House.


On March 7, West St. Lucie Elks Lodge #2823 donated the remainder of its Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant, $2,233.62, to Grace Pack Food Bank to help children in St. Lucie County, Florida, who are food insecure. This pantry provides weekly bags of food to children in need.


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Sebastian Lodge held its 18th annual car and bike show Feb. 20 to benefit the Florida Elks Youth Camp and Florida Elks Children's Therapy Services. The event draws 200 cars annually and hundreds of spectators. This year the event involved community participation by the Sebastian Police Department COPE Unit and the Indian River County Sheriff's Department with the breast cancer awareness car and teen driver challenge. Elroy the Elk made an appearance and the Florida State Elks drug awareness trailer was on hand promoting the Drug Awareness program. The event raised $2,619.26.


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On Jan. 22, the EL-DOEs, which is the ladies auxiliary of Sebastian Elks Lodge #2714, hosted a sale of new and nearly new ladies’ apparel and accessories to raise funds for a scholarship for a local high school senior. The event raised nearly $600.

Pictured are auxiliary members Pam Saracene, also a lodge member; Gail Holt; Diane Lemire, also a lodge member; Mary Fox; Betty Hayes; Debbie Lawrence; and Mary Ducharme, Ladies President. The photo was taken by Pauline Talbott, Ladies Vice President, also a lodge member.



Melbourne Elks Lodge #1744 used its $2,500 Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant and partnered with the Melbourne Police to distribute food vouchers for a precooked Christmas dinner meal to 100 food-insecure families. The meals are capable of providing food for 10 people.

Pictured Dec. 10 are Dolores Casella, Exalted Ruler; Officer Shaun Hill; Lieutenant John Grinwis; Nadine Smith, Melbourne Police Foundation vice president; and Tom Wojnar, Esquire and lodge grant coordinator. The vouchers were distributed Dec. 21.


On Oct. 20 during a low country boil dinner at Viera Elks Lodge #2817, Jerry Harrington, Exalted Ruler, presented a check for $2,000 to Kristen Sydney of Genesis House from the lodge’s Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant. Genesis House is a facility that provides transitional shelter for homeless women and their children, long-term housing for student mothers and their children, and shelter for homeless pregnant women and their children.

In December, Viera Lodge members donated 48 gifts to the Brevard County Triad’s Senior Santa Project. This project’s goal is to provide holiday gifts to elderly patients in nursing homes and hospice settings, mainly to those residents who do not have much local support and would probably not receive anything for the holidays. Brevard County Triad is a countywide partnership led by the sheriff’s office, local police and the state attorney’s office, which focuses on senior issues in Brevard County.


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On Oct. 23, Sebastian Elks Lodge #2714 was a silver sponsor of the Sebastian Police Department COPE (Community Oriented Policing Endeavor) Unit’s inaugural Unity Cup Golf Tournament with a $1000 donation. The mission of the COPE Unit is to create partnerships between the community and the Sebastian Police Department, to develop and employ proactive crime prevention strategies, and to promote the department’s resources to the community. The COPE Unit hosts events throughout the city where members meet with citizens, distribute crime prevention materials and build relationships to create a lasting environment of cooperation between the police and the citizens of Sebastian. Pauline Talbott, Southeast Central District and Lodge Drug Awareness Chair, and Mary Ducharme, president of the EL-DOEs, the lodge’s ladies organization, had a display at the 12th hole kicking off Red Ribbon Week promoting the Elks Drug Awareness program. They also shared information on the many projects supported by the Elks such as Florida Elks Youth Camp, Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services, Army of Hope, and college scholarships as well as local community charities such as Little Birthday Angels, Sebastian Elementary Backpack Buddies, and the Ecumenical Food Pantry of Sebastian. Several lodge members participated in the tournament, too.

Pictured are Pauline Talbott and Mary Ducharme and multiple banners.


Viera Elks Lodge #2817 continued its support of Genesis House, a facility that 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 who are homeless. Member Gail Miller shopped for back-to-school outfits for 18 children Sept. 9 and presented them to the families at Genesis House.


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On Sept. 18, Viera Elks Lodge #2817 welcomed Southeast Central District Vice President, Paul Diaz, and his wife, Donna, for dinner. There were more than 140 members and guests present and the theme was “Support your Team.” As a part of the festivities, Diaz assisted Jerry Harrington, Exalted Ruler, in presenting two donations to local organizations. A check for $3,500 from the lodge’s Elks National Foundation Gratitude and Beacon grants was presented to Tara Pagliarini, executive director of Family Promise of Brevard. Family Promise of Brevard works to end family homelessness in Brevard County by collaborating with the community to provide families with support and resources they need to put themselves on a path toward long-term housing stability. The second check presentation was for $2,000 ($1,500 from the lodge’s Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant and $500 from the lodge’s charity account) to Brevard Schools Foundation, a nonprofit organization designed to match community resources with the needs of public schools. It is funded and supported by local businesses and charitable organizations.

Pictured are Kyle Nylander, Brevard Schools Foundation board member; Janice Keyshawn, Brevard Schools Foundation president; Jerry Harrington, Exalted Ruler; Paul Diaz, District Vice President; and Bill Orblych, PDD, Lodge Secretary.


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Fort Pierce Elks Lodge #1520 used a $2,000 Elks National Foundation grant along with members’ donations to purchase new backpacks, school supplies, food and much needed socks and underwear to Lakewood Park Elementary School in Fort Pierce. The school has 100 students who are homeless. The lodge’s backpack program also donated $500 to buy footwear for students in need.

Pictured Sept. 22 outside the school are backpack program lodge volunteers and the school principal: Ron Chuba; Lenny Smallacombe, PDD; Barb Smallacombe, PDD; Kerri Walukiewicz, principal; Betty Foster; Cindy Williams; Bobbie Freeling; Bob Citto; Dave Bragg; Carol Chuba; and Ann Smith.



Sebastian Elks Lodge #2714 and its ladies auxiliary, the EL-DOEs, hosted a school supply drive from Aug. 1 through Sept. 10 to support Sebastian Elementary and Little Birthday Angels. Little Birthday Angels is a nonprofit organization in Vero Beach, Florida, serving the Treasure Coast and provides duffel bags filled with various items for the birthdays of community children experiencing homelessness. This year they plan to assist more than 200 children in the county. Pictured with a sample of the donated supplies are Billy Shallies, Exalted Ruler; Audrey Huddy, Elk and EL-DOE; Mary Ducharme, EL-DOEs president; Doreen Marchetti, Lecturing Knight; Pauline Talbott, House Committee chair and EL-DOEs vice president; Pam Saracene, Elk; and Dan Talbott, Leading Knight. Little Birthday Angels picked up their donations Sept. 13 and the school’s supplies will be delivered Sept. 23 as an appointment was required to enter the school due to COVID restrictions.