As I sit down to write my first article for the Florida Elks Magazine, I am amazed at how fast time has gone by. It feels like a week ago instead of three months ago that I was installed as the 58th president of the Florida Ladies of Elks during our annual conference. These have been a difficult few months for all of us. The coronavirus has been very disruptive to our way of life, including causing me to miss the midyear convention. I regretted missing the Ladies activity Saturday morning; I understand that it was a pleasurable morning for all who attended. I want to thank the people who were able to attend the meetings and continue FLOE’s work. The ZOOM connection was a great help. I would like to take this time to say that Gene and I hope everyone had a safe and healthy Thanksgiving and Christmas full of peace and goodwill.
Please remember this year’s motto, “Helping Children to Soar.” Children are our future and should be encouraged to dream big and soar to new heights. To this end, FLOE fundraising has also been negatively impacted by the virus. Ticket sales for the FLOE’s Angel reverse draw to be held next September are very low due to many lodges eliminating or downsizing their District Vice President and District Deputy visits. We are still in hopes of selling the 300 tickets that are available during the quarterly meeting in February and the state convention in May. Adella Ashton, PSP-FLOE is again heading this effort for us. She has tickets available for anyone who wants one or more. We need the support of all the Florida Elks to meet our goals. Please help.
Our other major fundraiser for the year is the chance auction (formerly Chinese auction) conducted during the state convention. Diane Sharpe is again heading this massive undertaking and we are again asking for everyone’s support. Diane is willing to accept your donations during the quarterly meeting in February and store them at home in preparation for May. At the state convention, I urge everyone to drop off their donations at the sale table no later than Thursday to enable us to display your donation prior to the drawings that are conducted during the FLOE luncheon Friday. Entertainment is also being planned during lunch. Please shop early and often and help FLOE help the Florida Elks Youth Camp and Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services.
The Florida Ladies of Elks 58th annual conference will be held Sept. 23-25 at the Embassy Suites Resort in Saint Augustine, Florida. With luck, the COVID-19 restrictions will be eliminated and we can increase our meeting attendance. The Friday evening banquet and entertainment will be open to everyone, and I am encouraging all Elks and guests to attend. More information for the weekend and particularly Friday evening will be available in the spring. Mark your calendar now to enjoy a relaxing overnight stay or weekend at the beach in Saint Augustine.
One of my goals for this year is to increase FLOE membership. We have several districts within the state with no delegate representation (Northwest, Central, South Southeast and South). Only three districts have all three delegate positions filled. Each district (14 of them) is allowed a senior delegate, junior delegate and alternate delegate. Because we are shorthanded, some of the delegates hold dual positions as officers as well. FLOE’s continued support of Florida Elks depends on filling our vacancies as well as filling the various chairlady positions available each year. Every lodge in the state should have a Ladies organization. I am reviewing Elks statutes to see how we can assist lodges in establishing Ladies organizations. These organizations become the backbone and structure upon which Florida Ladies of Elks will continue to grow. If a lodge has had a Ladies organization in the past, we can work to see about it becoming active again. We only have four meetings per year: FLOE conference in September, state midyear convention in November, state quarterly meeting in February and annual state convention in May. I am asking every wife of an Elk, widow of an Elk or lady Elk to attend one of our meetings, become a delegate and become involved in one of our projects. Remember that FLOE does not charge membership dues, so give us a try. You do not need to be part of a Ladies organization to attend a meeting. Contact me any time at 904-940-2830 or firstname.lastname@example.org. I will get you in touch with the senior delegate for your district, or if need be, we will work to establish or reactivate a group in your lodge. The rewards are truly gratifying and just remember that it is for the kids. There are so many children in our state who are in need of our assistance, especially right now. Please join us and help us.