Florida Elks News Editor:
Rachael King
 
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St. Petersburg Lodge donated 25 Easter baskets to The Sanderlin Center, a nonprofit agency located in south St. Petersburg, Fla. The center’s focus areas are family, education, arts, economics, employment, positive values, and health and wellness. The Easter baskets were put together with a wide variety of holiday candies, stuffed animals and other items to be inclusive of the different age groups serviced at the agency, including teens.

 

1224 Delaney and Geneva at Gala

The PER Association of St. Petersburg Elks Lodge #1224 sponsored and purchased the tickets for the attendance of Geneva Hall and Delaney Hall to the Harry-Anna Trust Unmasking Autism Gala of Hope April 13. The event was held at the Carillon Hilton in St. Petersburg, Fla., and Spectrum Bay News 9 morning anchor Erica Riggins was the Mistress of Ceremonies.

Geneva Hall has been a member of St. Petersburg Lodge and a very active volunteer since 2005. She is Delaney’s mother and Delaney has Asperger syndrome. Asperger syndrome is a condition considered to be a high-functioning form of autism. Delaney was 17.5 years old when she was officially diagnosed with this syndrome, a journey that started for Geneva when Delaney was 14 months old.

Geneva was honored to speak about autism, her journey and Florida Elk Charities at the gala. When Delaney was a sixth-grader, Geneva no longer had the financial security or the insurance to cover Delaney’s therapies for her developmental delay. In 2007, Geneva remembered the video she saw during her initiation two years before – the Elks have a physical therapy program! Geneva inquired at her lodge if she could receive these services for her daughter. After a few phone calls, Delaney was enrolled, and the Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services therapist Larry Lester came to their house according to Geneva’s time and schedule as a single working mom. Delaney completed the program and by the end was much more confident in her physical self. This service allowed Delaney to continue to have her much-needed speech therapy and eased the financial burden that Geneva had to carry. 

Delaney also spoke at the gala: “The experience enabled me to have the confidence to decide to compete in bocce, bowling and basketball skills for Special Olympics. Today I am proud to be an Athlete Leader for Special Olympics. I have two jobs – as an administrative assistant and I have autism. More and more children are diagnosed with autism and educating you about inclusion is important. My mom always gives me positive thoughts, and this is one of my favorites. It’s not what you go through in life. It’s how you react to it.”

 

708 laptops

For the fourth year, Tampa Lodge received a $5,000 Elks National Foundation Impact Grant. This year, they used this grant to provide 20 new laptops to be utilized in Ms. Chowning’s classroom by the members of Club Chivalry for Success who don’t have technology available at home. These computers will be used for the mandatory online class requirement and to research and apply for scholarships as well as for everyday schoolwork.

Tampa Lodge members Tony Marino, Patty Jankiewicz, Rita Smith (program director), Christopher Ragusa, Bonnie Atwood, Nikki Murphy, Bob Suhrheinrich, and Jacqui LoCicero (front left) present laptops to Club Chivalry school sponsor, Kristina Chowning.

 

 708 fun day 1 708 fun day 2

Using part of the Elks National Foundation Promise Grant, Tampa Elks Lodge #708 treated 16 teens to a day of fun that included a boat trip around Tampa Bay, lunch at a restaurant and playing video games. Inner Guard Taylor Taylor planned the day and the teens were invited to help found Tampa's Antler Club. The event was open to all the kids the lodge had a connection with and the lodge was able to take all who were interested. The teens were from local Tampa Bay middle and high schools including homeschooled students. They included campers that the lodge had sponsored and kids who had attended lodge events such as the back-to-school party and Christmas party.

                                                          708 fun day 3

 

2519 SOHF

Seminole Elks Lodge #2519 held their first West Central Florida Spirit of Harmony Foundation instrument drive at the lodge. Their mission is to provide opportunities for personal development and self-expression through the support of music and music education. The event brought in approximately 60 attendees and a multitude of instruments were donated.

 

On March 2, the St. Petersburg Ladies of Elks brought back the 1950s for a midwinter sock hop featuring the 1950s group the Impacs who were Florida’s No. 1 rock & roll band in the era and represented the Tampa Bay area all over the U.S. on the Dick Clark Caravan of Stars. The servers for this occasion were members of St. Petersburg’s Optimist Club who are dedicated to aiding those less fortunate than themselves in the community by assisting community programs and providing guest speakers to give members the opportunity to learn, grow and improve themselves. Members and attendees were proud to present to them $300 to assist them with their various community projects.