On April 1, Port Orange Lodge honored Steve Parker with an Elks Distinguished Citizen Award for his outstanding efforts in assisting veterans with returning to their homes after they were displaced by Hurricane Ian. Following the historic flooding in the Port Orange area last year from the hurricane, Parker became aware of local veterans who were displaced. He owns his own construction firm and used his resources, including a considerable amount of his own money, to make the repairs necessary to make the homes habitable. Before the award, Parker had never heard of the Elks, but he has since become a very enthusiastic lodge member.
Pictured are Gary VanOpdorp, PER and Steve Parker.
On April 26, Keith Guzman and his family moved in to their new home in Tampa, Florida. He is the 247th veteran to have their home furnished by the Zephyrhills Lodge Veterans Committee and the Elks Welcome Home Kits. The committee also provided a 45-inch flat-screen television.
Pictured are the Guzman family with lodge member Jim Cross and volunteer Howard Lundsford. Also assisting was Ken Fabiani, PER.
Elks Feeding Empty Little Tummies volunteers of Lakewood Ranch-Sarasota and Bradenton lodges had another successful school year, packing and sending home 600 meals each weekend with students from 10 schools. For approximately 30 weeks from September to May, this amounts to nearly 18,000 meals. Food was purchased using funds from the Elks National Foundation Gratitude and Beacon grants as well as from lodge fundraisers and community donations.
Pictured April 14 at Lakewood Ranch-Sarasota Lodge are members from both lodges coming together to celebrate their success and plan for next year.
Using the Elks National Foundation Beacon and Spotlight grants as well as the state association matching grant, Sebring Lodge helped sponsor the purchase of a used truck for Hands for Homeless in Avon Park, Florida. This truck will be seen around Hardee, Polk and Highlands counties and will be hauling fresh and dried foods to be distributed to those in need from the Avon Park location. The truck is also being used to pick up used furniture for the Hands for Homeless thrift store. Foods are continually collected by the Monday night charity bingo as well as Elk members.
Pictured April 12 are lodge members Joe Stockenberg, Ken Wheeler, Darlene Quel, Ron Schilffarth, Bob Lewis, Jonathan Spiegel, Mark Richards and Jim Mason in front of the newly painted truck, spotlighting the Elks logo.
Jonathan Speigel, Exalted Ruler; Joe Stockenberg, Leading Knight; and Jim Mason, PDD, are pictured loading the truck.
For many years, Brandon Elks Lodge #2383 put on a prom at the lodge for Willis Peters Exceptional Center, a school in Dover, Florida, for students with a wide range of disabilities. For the past few years, the prom had to be cancelled due to COVID-19. This year, Nickie Wells, PER contacted the school about holding a prom again, which they did April 13 with help from the school and lodge volunteers (Ed Ciesla, Exalted Ruler; Donald Harrison, Leading Knight; Sharon Hammersla, PDD, trustee; Nancy Price, Treasurer; Lou Valencia, Loyal Knight; and Nickie Wells, PER). The theme was “Fire and Ice” and to better accommodate the students, the prom was held at the school. Elroy the Elk (Ed Ciesla) mingled with the students. Lodge members cooked and served chicken nuggets, French fries, pizza squares and themed cupcakes, all paid for by the lodge. Wells has pledged to work with the school each year to ensure the prom continues to be an annual event supported by the lodge.
Pictured are Donald Harrison and Elroy (Ed Ciesla) with the students; PER Nickie Wells, Lou Valencia and Nancy Price; and the themed cupcake table.
Largo Elks Lodge #2159 used its $2,000 Elks National Foundation Spotlight Grant to host a baby shower March 25. Guests were clients of the Bay Area Pregnancy Center (BAPC). The BAPC is a pregnancy resource center established to assist families throughout their pregnancy and parenting journey. They provide many free services such as counseling, pregnancy and parenting classes, baby supplies, and more. Ten expectant mothers and their families, along with lodge members and the BAPC staff, attended the shower. The mothers received a homemade tote bag containing many items new mothers need. They also received jewelry, a $50 gift card and a door prize. Most of the door prizes were knitted or crocheted blankets or homemade quilts made by lodge members. A light lunch and cake were served. Siblings attending the shower received several books appropriate for their age. Elroy, the Elks Drug Awareness mascot, made an appearance as well. Lodge members donated clothing, pacifiers, bibs, receiving blankets, washcloths, hooded towels, hats, socks, baby lotion, baby soap, toys and rattles. The shower committee bought 15 baby monitors, more books for children and three baby cradles.
Committee members pictured are DiAnn Anselmi; Michelle Gustine, BAPC counselor; Marsha Rimer – BAPC CEO; Tina Cook, BAPC counselor; Alice Lyons, PER; Chrissy Horner; Diane Sharp, PER; Diane Mercer; Cindy Grant; Linda Hamby; and Brenda Ford.
Also pictured are Elroy, two guests and Diane Sharp, PER.