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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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2817 Gen

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.


1532 easter

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.


1520 water2

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.


1774 dean

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.


1774 americanism cropped

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.



The Port St. Lucie Elks Lodge Motorcycle Riders Committee members put together more than 1,500 bags of candy that were handed out by six members to children for Halloween at the Port Saint Lucie Civic Center during the pandemic. The CDC restricted children from going door to door. Pictured are Larry Kristiansen, road captain and event organizer; Denise Kristiansen; Joanne Mirenda; Tom Mirenda; Jim Devery, sergeant-at-arms; and Nelly Devery. The children really loved the bunny and everyone had a great time.


Viera Elks Lodge #2817 donated 35 Christmas gifts to the Brevard County Triad’s Senior Santa project. All of the gifts were donated by lodge members. The Senior Santa project was designed to provide the elderly in nursing homes and hospice settings with a personal gift around the holidays. It targets those residents who have little or no support in the area and would not otherwise receive a special gift. Brevard County Triad is a countywide partnership spearheaded by the sheriff’s office, local police and the state attorney office that focuses on senior issues in Brevard County.

Viera Lodge also donated $ 500 using its general charity fund to Brevard Family Partnership, an organization that focuses on child abuse prevention, foster care and support, adoption, independent living, and community outreach services to the children and families of Brevard County. The donation was to provide Christmas gifts for children in foster homes.

Viera Lodge also donated a Christmas tree to the Wuesthoff Hospice and Palliative Care Center for their residents’ room.


Viera Elks Lodge #2817 provided $150 to 11 veterans transitioning to permanent housing to use for furniture and household items. The program is VOA/SSVF (Volunteers of America/Supportive Services for Veterans/Families) Transitional Housing Program. The funds were provided by the lodge’s Focus Grant. The shopping trips are conducted at Down the Road Thrift, a local veteran-owned thrift shop. The lodge provided $1,037.58 to veterans in need for rental and utility assistance. Additionally, the lodge provided five $50 gift cards using the lodge general charity fund to veterans for Thanksgiving dinners for them and their families.


1774 wab

Vero Beach Lodge held its annual Christmas program for Wabasso School, a special-education school serving students ages 5-22 which offers four program models: intensive, integrated, behavioral and transition programs. Staff members provide instruction within a safe and positive learning environment that positively impacts students to develop their academic and independent living skills to meet post-secondary goals and successful community integration. The Elks provide gifts, cupcakes and juice, and Santa Claus distributes gifts to all the students. 


1774 tots

Vero Beach Lodge held its annual Toys for Tots drive. The lodge is noted for its donations of bicycles; this year they donated 16 bikes and helmets along with many other gifts.


1774 dics

Vero Beach Elks Lodge #1774 completed its annual dictionary project with Paul Diaz, PER, project manager, and Ray Ketchum delivering 1,000 dictionaries to 12 Indian River County, Florida, schools. Because of the pandemic, the dictionaries were dropped off at the schools and the schools dispersed the dictionaries. Pictured are Diaz and Ketchum with one of the schools’ representatives.