Plant City Elks Lodge members Judy Wise, Lodge and District Veterans Chair, and JD Martin, one of the lodge’s newest members, made it possible for Liberty Manor to get a new driveway in late August. The mission of Liberty Manor for Veterans Inc. is to promote the developmental and social needs of disabled and honorably discharged veterans who have fallen victim to homelessness providing transitional supported housing and establishing objectives designed to attribute to self-sufficiency. For years, the veterans living at Liberty Manor have struggled with a broken terrain for a driveway, and many veterans who are disabled have fallen. Connie Lindsay, founder of Liberty Manor, contacted Wise, and Wise shared the issue with the lodge members at a meeting. Martin is a supervisor with a contractor and volunteered to garner a donation from Old Castle Pavers, a brick and paver company in Tampa, Florida. Old Castle Pavers delivered the pavers and the job was completed by David Lindsay, Connie Lindsay’s husband, and some of the residents. Castle Coastal was so impressed with Liberty Manor that they are on board with future projects. Pictured are George Marquis of Old Castle Pavers and David Lindsay, VP of Liberty Manor for Veterans.
Port Orange Elks Lodge #2723 celebrates monthly birthdays at Emory L. Bennett Memorial Veterans Nursing Home in Daytona Beach, Florida. Veterans look forward to and enjoy cake, ice cream and soda every month. Pictured Sept. 25 are Dan Theodore, PER; Jerry Peterson, PER, VAMC representative; Frank Kuczkowski, PER; and Calvin Tanck, therapy aide supervisor of the facility.
Using $800 from the lodge’s veterans fund which was donated by a member, the West Citrus Elks Lodge #2693 Veterans Committee provided flags with standards for each of the eight assisted living facilities which they support in Citrus County, Florida. Pictured Sept. 9 are Becky Jones, Mike Vaughn, Frank Hayes, Joanne Hepner, Edna Piermann, Donna Hayes, Dave Kaczanowski, Orlan Hayes, Bill Shay, Jim Ducey, Dick Harper, Jill Jeroski, Ron Powell, Dan Nichols, Rick Jeroski.
Merritt Island Lodge received the Elks National Foundation Spotlight Grant and used $1,200 of its $2,000 to stock a food pantry at the Volunteers of America (VOA) in Cocoa, Florida, that provides for veterans. Kermit Forbes, PER stocked the pantry Aug. 5 and Aug. 28. The lodge plans to continue with this endeavor. Pictured are John Walsh, VOA; Forbes; and a summer college intern at VOA whose name was not available.
On Sept. 19, Oakland Park Elks Lodge #2407 used its $2,500 Elks National Foundation Freedom Grant to help local veterans through the Vietnam Veterans of America, an organization that supports veterans with a focus on homelessness. The lodge supported the survival bags project by providing more than 30 bags and supplies. These bags are distributed to male and female veterans who are experiencing homelessness. The bags consisted of a string backpack, two water bottles, a Mylar survival blanket, deodorant, sunscreen, toothpaste, a toothbrush, a mini bar of soap, mini shampoo, mini conditioner, mini body wash, a package of pocket-sized Kleenex, socks, BAND-AIDS, a VA crisis line emergency card, granola bars, trail mix bars, Welch’s Fruit Snacks, and a package of cheddar cheese crackers. A hairbrush and feminine hygiene products were also included for women.
On Sept. 3, Bradenton Lodge made a $500 donation to Operation Outdoor Freedom in Arcadia, Florida. The funds were raised through various Lodge Veterans Committee events this lodge year. Operation Outdoor Freedom is supported by the Florida Agriculture Commission and administered by the Florida Forest Service. The organization provides recreational and rehabilitative opportunities for wounded veterans on state forest, agricultural and private lands throughout the state at no cost. Pictured are Mike Porter, director and manager of the Arcadia property, and Bill Rauh, Lodge Veterans Committee Chair.
The members of the Tampa Elks Lodge Veterans Committee chaired by Patty Jankiewicz were frustrated that they could no longer visit the VA or have any veterans from VA centers come enjoy dinner at the Lodge. Jankiewicz contacted the recreation director at the James A. Haley Domiciliary, Ryan Nitzsche, and asked about sending a meal to them instead. Nitzsche was instantly on board, as the COVID restrictions made life in “the dom” pretty bleak and the veterans had not been able to feel the support they usually receive from the community. The committee hired Courtney’s Custom Catering, owned by member Courtney Weil, PER, to cater the meal. Each of the 15 veterans were asked to select the meat, sides, desserts, and drink choices they wished to order. On Aug. 20, Weil delivered the food to the parking lot which was as close as she was allowed to get. But she did not just drop off 15 meals — she delivered 15 servings of everything! There were 15 servings of baby back ribs, beef brisket, pulled chicken, bacon green beans, fried okra, baked macaroni and cheese, baked beans, cornbread, peach cobbler, blackberry cobbler, and bread pudding along with plenty of lemonade and iced tea! Nitzsche said the veterans had quite a party and the leftovers were enjoyed all weekend. The bill the committee received for all that food was only $375, $25 per person. Pictured is some of the food that was delivered — brisket, baked macaroni and cheese, and peach and blueberry cobblers.
On Aug. 21, Bradenton Elks Lodge #1511 donated $500 to Manatee Operation Troop Support (MOTS) which serves military members and their families in Florida’s Manatee and Sarasota counties before, during and after deployment. The donation was from various Veterans Committee funraising events. MOTS receives hundreds of requests each month for items such as food proteins, sweets, fans, clothing, electronics or anything that is not available to service members locally and around the world. They also supply items such as gift cards and vouchers. MOTS is funded completely by donations and volunteers, and they also conduct drawings and similar fundraising events. MOTS was organized in 2008 and certified and recognized in 2009. Pictured are Bill Rauh, Lodge Veterans Chair, and Linda Craig, director of Manatee Operation Troop Support.
On Aug. 25, St. Petersburg Lodge member Penny Rase delivered an additional 100 washable and reusable non-medical face masks made of 100% double-sided cotton to C. W. Bill Young VA Medical Center located in Bay Pines, Florida. The masks were made for the veterans in need who pass through the Elks office located on the grounds of the VAMC. Rase has made and delivered 300 masks to Bay Pines veterans facing needs. Each mask takes approximately 30 minutes to make. Pictured are Rase; Nathan Witt, Chief of Voluntary Services at Bay Pines; and Johnny Miller, Grand Lodge VAVS Representative to Bay Pines and lodge member.
On Aug. 12, Manasota Elks Lodge #2734 presented much-needed housewares (sheets, towels, dishes, pots and pans, and microwaves) to Manatee Veterans Village in Bradenton, Florida. This was made possible using their Elks National Foundation Freedom Grant. The Manatee Veterans Village program provides clinical treatment, transitional housing and case management services to homeless veterans. It helps the residents transition to independent living and allows a maximum of two years to achieve the transition. The lodge has supported this cause for three years in various capacities. Pictured with three veterans are lodge members Diane Davis; Doris Waddell, PDD; Jan “Spike” Klocke; Jim Klocke, Veterans Chair; Greg Louch and Chris Louch.
Markie Sandusky, an active-duty member of the U.S. Coast Guard, gets a hug from Stormy the Dolphin at Theater of the Sea in the Florida Keys Aug. 8. Florida Keys Elks Lodge #1872 sponsored E-4 Sandusky with their Vets on the Water program.
On Aug. 11, St. Petersburg Lodge donated 34 twin-size and 48 full-size top-rated, high-quality mattress covers to be distributed to veterans living in homes that are part of Heaven on Earth for Veterans (HOEV) run by co-founder Carol Barkalow, Lodge Esquire. HOEV provides high-quality, low-cost living space for veterans in need. The mattress covers will help keep the mattresses at the HOEV homes looking like new for years and will help protect the mattresses from issues such as bed bugs and bacteria. Dan Masi, Leading Knight, worked with Chris Renfrow, founder of Charity Works, who helped attain the total lower price of $2,612.16 from vendors for the mattress covers. Pictured are Doc Cook, Exalted Ruler, along with Masi, Renfrow and Barkalow picking up the mattress covers at the lodge.