Cale Brown started his new year off right Jan. 4 by moving in to his new home near Bay Shore in Tampa, Florida. Brown felt relieved to have a place to call home. Army veteran John Newman and his family moved in to their new home in Riverview, Florida, Jan. 16. He, his wife and their four daughters were so happy to have a place of their own. Their homes were furnished using funds from the Elks National Foundation Spotlight Grant and the Welcome Home Kit project as well as home furnishings from the Zephyrhills Lodge Veterans Committee. Assisting in the furnishing of these homes were lodge members Don Falaas, Larry Decena, and Ken Fabiani, PER, Veterans Chair.
New Port Richey Elks Lodge #2284 participated in a Wreaths Across America ceremony by placing 558 wreaths on the graves of veterans interred at Memorial Gardens Cemetery in New Port Richey. Over 100 lodge members and the public attended.
Pictured are John Herig Jr., event chair and five-year trustee; Sue Payton; Robert Payton, U.S. Coast Guard; and John Herig Sr., U.S. Army veteran. They are laying a wreath on the grave of U.S. Navy veteran Robert Payton.
On Dec. 18, Tallahassee Elks Lodge opened its doors to help Havana American Legion Post #84 host a free Christmas dinner for homeless veterans as well as other veterans in need and their families. Roast turkey and side dishes were prepared by the local Millers Ale House restaurant. About 120 folks attended the dinner and participated in a bingo game afterward. Lodge officers were on hand to help with set up and host the event.
On Dec. 13, Rod Dally, PER, trustee, and Beverly Dally delivered requested supplies to Veterans Volunteer Services in West Palm Beach, Florida, assisting veterans experiencing homelessness. On Dec. 22, they delivered containers of cookies to each of the 20 patients at the new Ardie R. Copas State Veterans' Nursing Home in Port St. Lucie, Florida. Each month, the lodge dedicates the revenue from a night of bar games for their veterans’ fund. Don Pritchett, trustee, recently signed the lodge up as a volunteer at that facility on a weekly basis.
Pictured at the cookie delivery are Don Pritchett, 1-year trustee; Betty Foster, Exalted Ruler; Bev and Rod Dally, Veterans Co-Chairs; Deb Doherty, founder of DDS4Vets, which helps veterans who are returning home or who have PTSD and trains dogs for veterans; and Gail Van Horn.
On Dec. 17, members of Fort Walton Lodge participated in the Wreaths Across America event at Beal Memorial Cemetery in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. Along with veterans’ groups, they assisted in laying 1,300 remembrance wreaths on the graves of veterans and saying the name of every veteran aloud. This annual endeavor has three missions — to remember the fallen, to honor those who serve and to teach children the value of freedom.
Pictured in the front row are Mark Wynn, Inner Guard; Marcia WrightReynolds, Lecturing Knight; and Collette Willey. In the back row are Blake Humphries; Paul Willey, PER, 4-year trustee, “Taz” WrightReynolds, PER, Exalted Ruler; and Tom McLaughlin, Leading Knight.
“Taz” WrightReynolds is also pictured presenting a remembrance wreath on the grave of his father, MSgt. Donald E. Reynolds, USAF Ret., a veteran of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
On Dec. 9, Destin Elks Lodge #2688 used part of its Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant of $4,000 and provided numerous gifts to more than 20 veterans who reside at the Clifford Chester Sims State Veterans Nursing Home in Panama City, Florida. Located in Bay County, the home is a modern, state-of-the-art 120-bed facility, which is operated and maintained by the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs.
Pictured are Robert Griffin, Terri Griffin, Henri Kelly and Tami Snow.
On Dec. 19, Pensacola Elks Lodge #497 utilized its Elks National Foundation Freedom Grant of $3,000 and added monies from the lodge charity account for a total of $4,689 to provide more than 100 gifts to the veterans and their spouses residing in four assisted living facilities — The Blake at Pensacola, The Waterford at Carpenter’s Creek, Bayside Health & Rehabilitation Center, and The Camellia at Gulf Breeze. This partnership and lodge commitment with these facilities will continue throughout the year, including monthly visits to have coffee and doughnuts with the veterans. The lodge is also working with the facility directors for specific needs.
Pictured are Clyde Losey; Charline Wetzel Blake, activity director; Col. Pam McGinty, USAF ret.; Michael Smith; Libby Mayhugh; Amy Loranger; Stanley Tarter; Ken “KB” Branch, PER; Jack Countryman; Shelli Branch; Les Darbyshire; Betty Hooper; Billy Bush; Will Berry; Sgt. Smith, U.S. Army; Capt. A.J., USMC; Kim Taylor; and Carey Seigle. Also pictured are Virginia Tew, 101, who worked at the Pentagon in World War II, and Ken “KB” Branch, PER, and Libby Mayhugh and Col. Pam McGinty, USAF ret.
For Veterans Day, Eustis Elks Lodge #1578 invited all veterans from the Fort McCoy Veterans Village and lodge veterans to a free dinner; approximately 55 attended. The dinner was funded by the lodge charity account.
Pictured are three World War II veterans, Leon “Spike” Spychalski, Jake Conn, and Ray Savior, with Ron Locke, PDD, Exalted Ruler (second from left).
Clewiston Elks Lodge #1853 hosted a veterans appreciation ceremony and dinner Nov. 17. The Clewiston High School Public Service Academy, pictured, presented the flag at the ceremony and recalled the history and significance of every turn and fold for the audience. Veteran Frank Sellers, PDD, Elks Representative to the VA, gave a compelling speech and gifts were given to the veterans.
On Nov. 23, Aripeka Elks Lodge #2520 cooked and delivered 20 turkeys with mashed potatoes, gravy and stuffing to Moon Lake Mission, an organization that provides many services for those experiencing homelessness or for those with low incomes in the Moon Lake area. Lodge members donated the food.
Pictured are Charlie Smith, trustee; Chuck Anderson, Leading Knight; Sharon Anderson, Inner Guard; and Lucille Joy, Lecturing Knight.
On Nov. 11 at the Veterans Day ceremony, Aripeka Elks Lodge #2520 provided a pork roast dinner to 70 veterans and their spouses. This dinner was presented by Vietnam veteran and lodge member, John Gudavich, PDD, and was funded by the Veterans Committee.
Gudavich is pictured on the right.
On Oct. 19, Deep Creek Elks Lodge #2763 invited veterans from Douglas Jacobson VA Nursing Home to have lunch and play bingo at the lodge. The lodge does this monthly for veterans and uses the charity account to pay for the lunches. On this occasion, Anna Wojalik visited the lodge. She served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. She turned 101 Sept. 29. Lodge members enjoyed hearing her stories.
Pictured are Anna Wojalik and Peggie Sue Dygert, Leading Knight and Lodge Veterans Chair. Behind them is a veteran whose name was unavailable.