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Rachael King
 
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Florida State Elks Association Inc.
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Umatilla, FL 32784-0049
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Fort Myers Elks Lodge #1288 conducted the annual Flag Day ritual June 15. The event featured the Vietnam Brotherhood Company B, which is made up of Vietnam veterans. They showcased a historical sequence of American flags, ranging from the Pine Tree flag to the present 50-star flag and the POW flag. After the ceremony, the lodge made a contribution of $500 to the brotherhood's scholarship fund.

Pictured are the Vietnam Brotherhood showcasing the flags and Eric Farmer, Exalted Ruler, presenting the donation to Rick Reeves, Commander of Company B.

 

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On June 6, members of Jacksonville Elks Lodge #221 donated approximately $350 worth on nonperishable food, prewrapped utensils and personal supplies to Northeast Florida Women Veterans. In addition to all the services that NEFWV offers women veterans, they also serve approximately 45 to 65 women monthly through their food pantry. The women running this organization are a positive force of energy. NEFWV recognizes that many women veterans transition well and are successful but some women veterans do not handle transition well or have things happen beyond their control and need some help. As stated on the NEFWV website, "Women are the fastest-growing community of military veterans. As veterans, we are subject to the same challenges as our male counterparts: PTSD, MST, high divorce rate, health issues, and even homelessness. The challenges for women, goes beyond that. Often childcare, domestic violence, gender discrimination, and other issues, push our needs beyond the normal transition challenges.” It also says that not until recently have the VA and community agencies focused on the needs of women veterans. The NEFWV works to ensure women veterans do not remain the “Invisible veterans.”

Pictured are Deborah Reedy, PER, Lodge Secretary; Amy Collins, NEFWV case manager and Navy veteran; and Karen Tracy, U.S. Navy, retired, and Lodge Veterans Services Chair.

Also pictured are Amy Collins; Elaine Spencer, case manager and Army veteran; Natalie Marcano-Sidberry, lead case manager and Navy veteran; and Karen Tracy.

Also shown is the food pantry area.

 

2731 haley

On May 20, the Zephyrhills Elks Lodge Veterans Committee donated $500 worth of personal hygiene items, shoes, sandals and undergarments to James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital in Tampa.

Ken Fabiani, PER, Lodge Veterans Chair, presented the donations to Angela Reinhart, Volunteer  Service Coordinator. 

 

2731 rahman

Veteran Craig Rahman and his wife, Olivia, lost their home six months ago when a hurricane took their St. Petersburg home. On June 5, the Zephyrhills Lodge Veterans Committee helped furnish their new home. Craig had a list of items they lost, including a washer and dryer, pots and pans, dishes, kitchen utensils, queen-size bed, lamps, coffee and end tables, dining room set, 72-inch flat screen television, 32-inch television, towels for the kitchen and bathroom, and linens and blankets. 

Pictured are Howard Lundsford, Dave Greene, and Olivia and Craig Rahman.

 

On June 5, the veterans committee of Zephyrhills Lodge delivered 50 lap blankets to veterans staying at Baldomero Lopez State Veterans’ Nursing Home. The lap blankets were made by the Happy Hookers from the Scotland Yard community. 

 

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On May 16, the Tampa Elks Lodge Veterans Committee hosted 14 veterans from temporary housing at the Salvation Army and their driver, Daniel Smith, for dinner. Shelagh Gombarcik, PER cooked bacon cheeseburgers for them, and they enjoyed mozzarella sticks, fries and macadamia nut cookies. Committee members Evelyn Hemingway and Rita Smith, PER were their servers. The meal was paid for with funds raised by the committee through events and member donations. 

Pictured are five veterans along with Salvation Army supervisor Daniel Smith, top right, and Rita Smith, PER, standing.

 

2284 cookies

In honor of Armed Forces Day, May 18, New Port Richey Elks Lodge #2284 donated a large tray of cookies and a thank you poster to the staff of the New Port Richey Armed Forces Recruitment Center.

Pictured are Petty Officer First Class Tony Martin, Navy; Gunnery Sgt. Lesesne, Marine Corps; Elizabeth Groves, Inner Guard, Lodge Americanism Chair and Air Force veteran; SSgt. Lisa Sparks, Air Force; and SSgt. Brandon Duffus, Army.

 

2817 bkfst

On May 5, Viera Elks Lodge #2817 served breakfast to 68 members of the Brevard County Veterans Coalition. The coalition is a volunteer entity comprised of members from all branches of the military who work to advance and educate veterans about VA claims, assistance with housing, medical appointments and more. They coordinate efforts and serve as the conduit for communication among local veterans. The meal was prepared and served by lodge officers and members. Funds for the meal came from the lodge’s charity account.

Pictured are Dawn Mailloux; Diane Blackmore; Nancy Miller, PDD; Ed Stark; Mary Stark; Kathi Wade; Kasha Harrell; and Wendy Carns, PER, District Vice President.

 

2010 warrior

On April 27, Naples Lodge invited veterans from the Alpha House at Warrior Homes of Collier County to enjoy lunch at the lodge. Along with the $1,000 ENVSC Freedom Grant, the lodge voted to add $2,300 to purchase $100 gift cards for each of the 33 veterans to shop for personal items. Members also collected $800 worth of nonperishable food to help the veterans. Greg Tinsley, counselor with Peer to Peer, educated the members with stories of Warrior Homes helping veterans with housing, mental health resources and educational opportunities, including scholarships.

Pictured in the front row are Michael Clark and Bob Evans, veterans, and Holly Ludwig, Exalted Ruler and Army veteran. Pictured in the back row are George Salzano and Greg Tinsley, veterans, and Brian Kamp, Lodge grant coordinator.

 

2010 roll

On April 27, Naples Elks Lodge member Fabio Tagliasacchi participated in the Charity Roll 5K using his wheelchair and raised $1,004 for Naples Lodge to donate to Warrior Homes of Collier, which supports veterans and their families in the areas of housing, mental health and education.

Pictured with Tagliasacchi is Holly Ludwig, Exalted Ruler and an Army veteran.

 

2624 sign

On April 16, Crestview Elks Lodge #2624 donated a military sign to Crestview Manor, an assisted-living facility in Crestview to honor the veterans who have selflessly served the nation. It states, “As long as there are veterans, the Elks will never forget them.”

Darwin Leatherman, PDD presents the sign.

 

1224 stand

On April 6, St. Petersburg Elks Lodge #1224 was one of more than 70 exhibitors with services and giveaways at the Bay Pines annual Veteran Stand Down for those who are homeless or at risk. Using funds from an Elks National Foundation Spotlight Grant, the lodge purchased and distributed more than 200 pairs of new shoes, belts and socks. Volunteers also gave out backpacks and a substantial amount of men's and women's clothing and shoes donated by members. The veterans who attended the event were extremely grateful for everything.

Pictured are volunteers Gene Berry, VAVS Deputy Representative; Ruth Green; Heidi Green, PER; John Gillis, VAVS Deputy Representative; and lodge members Jan and Linda Musgrave.