This has been an unusual past several months with challenges and uncertainty. As with everything in life, we can choose to look at things with a positive or negative outlook. We chose to look at the positive. Although the state convention was not as in past years, we were able to make special memories and new friends and we were able to share our excitement for FLOE.
Unfortunately, we had to make the difficult decision to cancel our FLOE hospitality suite. We did not make this decision lightly. We were very disappointed as Linda and I were looking forward to celebrating with our veterans, FLOE and Elks. We chose to host the Chinese auction, FLOE luncheon and fashion show. I would like to thank everyone who donated to the Chinese auction and I give a special thanks to Chairlady Diane Sharp who did an exceptional job in every aspect of setting up the tables and donations. Special thanks go to Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services and the children they treat who shared their artistic talents drawing angels that Diane strategically placed around the donations; they were beautiful and added a special touch. Thanks also go to Barbara Carroll who co-chaired along with Diane. The auction raised $2,240 that FLOE will donate to the Florida State Elks Association major projects. Our 50/50 winner, Jan Giallourakis, President of the Ladies Auxiliary from St. Petersburg #1224, won $460 and donated part of her winnings back to FLOE.
On Friday, June 19, we held the FLOE luncheon with a patriotic theme. Many thanks go to all Elks, PSP wives, FLOE members and guests for attending. Special thanks go to Judy Reyes, PSP-FLOE who did an incredible job taking care of registration, luncheon tickets and coordinating the dignitary seating along with Sandra Smith, wife of Michael Smith, PNP. Our patriotic theme included an entrance to the luncheon with flags and flowers. The tables had red, white and blue centerpieces with bricks of each branch of the service. Thanks and praise go to Linda Crawford of Ocala Lodge #286 and the ladies of OLEO (Ocala Ladies of Elks). Judy Reyes, PSP-FLOE designed our table signs and place cards which added the special touch to the table. Tiffany of Resort Fashions presented a fashion show prior to lunch. Many thanks go to Tiffany and our models, Becky Long, PSP-FLOE; Theresa Seibert, PDD; Linda Rittenhouse, FLOE Vice President; and Trisha Hyatt of OLEO. They all looked lovely walking the runway.
Our business meeting was called to order at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, June 20. Present was our outgoing State Chair, Tom Carns, PER, who introduced and proudly handed over the reins to the incoming State Chair, Tom Moran. Outgoing State President, Tom Ludwick, and Vice President-elect, Suzi Simonelli, PDD, later visited us. We always appreciate and look forward to their inspiring words. Mary McCoy, PSP-FLOE, Nominating Committee Chairlady, read the recommendations for FLOE officers for the upcoming year and elections were held. I am very pleased to announce the following officers for the Florida Ladies of Elks year 2020-2021: President, Linda Rittenhouse; Vice President, Debbie Farris Mortka; Secretary, Laura Sardella; Treasurer is open; and four-year Advisory Council members, Adella Ashton and Susie Harlow. Congratulations, ladies. I look forward to your year and know that FLOE will flourish in the upcoming year. By-Laws Committee Chairlady, Felicia Vuletich, PSP-FLOE, read the proposed changes to the current bylaws and standing rules. At the September conference, we will read the bylaws once again, followed by voting. We spent the balance of our meeting on the upcoming FLOE conference. The president’s gift of a patriotic angel, USA pillow and caftan was won by Betty Orcutt from the West Central District.
FLOE implemented a new program, FLOE’s Angel, and it has been a year in the planning. At the awards luncheon, we were honored to present our first FLOE’s Angel family award, a four-day weekend to a Disney resort including room for four nights, meals, memory-maker package, magical extras and parking. The D’Angelo family was selected as our first recipient. Congratulations, to Jeff, Katis, JJ and Miabella D’Angelo! As you may remember, JJ was the Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services CHAMP last year.
I want to thank Tom Carns, PER for his support as our State Chair of Ladies Organizations. We welcome Tom Moran, PER as our new State Chair and Bonnie Barnes, PER as our Vice Chair for the upcoming year.
Our next FLOE event will be our 57th annual conference Sept. 24-26 at the Lido Beach Resort in Sarasota, Florida. We will begin with the opening of our fundraising shop which will include crafts, raffles and other surprises; we will be open to the public each day. This year we will be adding a Chinese auction. On Friday evening, we will have entertainment by Act III – Motown music. Dress attire is business casual or dress the era of Motown. A cash bar will be available. On Saturday morning we will have our business meeting (closed meeting) followed by our luncheon (all invited). The FLOE packet which includes the menus for the dinner and luncheon are available at floridaelks.org. Our afternoon session will begin with our memorial service honoring our departed sisters presented by FLOE Chaplain, Tracy Horrell, PER. We will announce our usual FLOE award winners, present donations and conclude with the installation of the 2020-2021 officers.
Remember, aside from the beautiful beach and other amenities at Lido Beach Resort in Sarasota, there are many places to visit and enjoy such as the Ringling Museum of Art, aquarium, opera house, Jungle Gardens, Siesta Key Marina, and Marina Jack, and if you like to shop there is St. Armand’s Circle and University Mall. You have a choice to register online or via mail as well as purchasing meal/dinner show tickets. I hope to see you in September!
In the meantime, may God bless and watch over all of Elkdom.
God bless America and all first responders!