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Florida Elks News Editor:
Rachael King
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Florida State Elks Association Inc.
P.O. Box 49
Umatilla, FL 32784-0049

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2855 match

On May 11, Sean Brown, Southeastern Guide Dogs associate director of philanthropy, left, along with his service dog, Nick, accepted a $7,042 donation from Tom Sweeney, Lakewood Ranch-Sarasota Lodge Veterans Services Chair. Southeastern Guide Dogs provides training for service dogs and matches them with veterans in need of companionship. The lodge donation was doubled by the Southeastern Heroes Council, a group of donors who sometimes match donations.


2693 Bridge2

On May 13, several members of West Citrus Elks Lodge #2693 gathered in Inverness, Florida, at the Bridge 4 Veterans house to present $4,000 from the lodge’s Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant to aid in the upgrade of the kitchen. Bridge 4 Veterans is a nonprofit organization that assists veterans who are homeless find housing.

Pictured in the front row are Tom O’Brien, secretary of Bridges 4 Veterans; Greg Pelletier, president of Bridges 4 Veterans; Doug Norman, Exalted Ruler; and Richard Floyd, treasurer of Bridges 4 Veterans. In the back row are Kris Estus, PER, District Grant Coordinator; Jim Ducey, Veterans Services Committee member; Donna Hayes, Veterans Services Committee Lodge Chair; Joann Hepner, Veterans Services Committee member; and Frank Hayes, Veterans Services Committee member and liaison to Bridge 4 Veterans.


1288 7000

Fort Myers Elks Lodge #1288 honored local veterans May 21. A brief ceremony began with playing anthems of the five branches of the U.S. military followed by a color guard presenting the colors. After the ceremony, veterans and guests enjoyed a delicious dinner. Following the meal, David Lake, PSP, Esquire, presented a check for $7,000 for Hearts and Homes for Veterans Inc. The donation was made possible by a $4,000 Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant, a $2,500 Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant, and $500 from the lodge charity account.

Pictured are Frank Mascari, PER; Phil Gersbach, PDD, Vice President at Large; David Santini, vice president of Hearts and Homes for Veterans Inc.; Richard Conley, PDD; David Lake, PSP, Esquire; and Rich Joslin.


2731 storage

Zephyrhills Elks Lodge #2731 has been donating furniture and household items to veterans upon discharge from the VA. When they are discharged, they have an apartment but no furnishings. Ken Fabiani, Lodge Veterans Services Chair, has been actively picking up donations from the local communities to help provide the veterans with the basic needs for their home. In mid-May, a local business offered to donated a 10-by-20 storage unit to the Veterans Services Committee for these furnishings. Hilda Hynes, manager of Value Store It, has a very personal investment in this donation since she says with great emotion and pride that she is the mother of a son in the United States Air Force at Andrews Air Force Base. With the housing crisis and homelessness, she immediately got on board with Fabiani's efforts to provide the veterans with their needs. Value Store It is very dedicated with their involvement in their communities and donates to organizations that will empower their local culture.

Pictured are Ken Fabiani, PER, and Hilda Hynes.


708 dinner

On May 20, Tampa Elks Lodge #708 welcomed nine guests from Liberty Manor for dinner. Owner Connie Lindsay and her husband, David, brought seven veterans from their nonprofit transitional housing to the lodge. After being seated, they were each greeted by Jose Remon, Lodge Veterans Services Chair, and Rita Smith, Exalted Ruler. Veterans Services Committee members Joe LoCicero, Debbie Brennan, George Hofer and Edie Hanley were their attendants and servers and saw to their every need. The veterans were served a dinner of New York strip steaks, grilled jumbo shrimp, rosemary roasted potatoes, fresh green beans and cheese biscuits. For dessert, there was warm bread pudding with a vanilla sauce. The Veterans Services Committee raises funds, especially for entertaining veterans in need. The cost of this dinner for these veterans was $221.

Pictured in blue are the veterans, and David and Connie Lindsay are at the ends of the table. New member Thomas Hofer is seated with the veterans as well.


2159 75

2159 75 2

On May 10, the Largo Elks Lodge’s Veterans Committee members presented their 75th Welcome Home Kit to a veteran through the Bay Pines VA HUD-VASH (Housing and Urban Development-Veterans Administration Supportive Housing) office in St. Petersburg, Florida. A Welcome Home Kit provides some basic essentials, including but not limited to dishes, linens, small kitchen appliances and personal hygiene items for a veteran moving into a new residence and needing starter items. This presentation was a milestone; therefore, 10 Largo Elks members attended to meet the veteran who was receiving this kit and to load his car.  

Pictured are Francesca Rivera; Peter Lopez, World War II veteran; Sonja Lopez, endorsed District Vice President; Barb Hennessey; Gloria Todd, Exalted Ruler; Georgia Greene; Sandy Behm; Ed Cabana; Kenneth, veteran receiving the kit; Caroline Wilson, HUD-VASH social worker; Edgar Solivan, voluntary services specialist at the VA; Jeanne Reinhart, PDD, event organizer; Johnny Miller, Elks VAVS representative to Bay Pines; and Robert Behm, retired LTC and Lodge Veterans Committee Chair.

Also pictured are Jeanne Reinhart, PDD; Gloria Todd; and Bob Behm presenting a $1,000 check to Edgar Solivan (second from left) for the upcoming Stand Down at the VA.


2855 dog

On April 9, Lakewood Ranch-Sarasota Elks Lodge #2855 held a Paws for Patriots benefit, which included dinner, guest speakers, prize baskets and a band. Guest speaker Sean Brown, who brought his guide dog, Nick, shared the experience of veterans returning from active duty. All proceeds and donations were given to Southeastern Guide Dogs to help pay for raising and educating dogs to become facility therapy dogs who are given to veterans to help with PTSD symptoms.

Pictured are Tom Sweeney, Lodge Veterans Committee Chair; Frank Iannello, Exalted Ruler; and Sean Brown, guest speaker, and Nick, his service dog.


2731 rec

On Jan. 30, performance group Re-Creation USA put on a show at Zephyrhills Lodge to raise money for their touring expenses. Barbara Conklin, Leading Knight, provided a pre-show meal for the group. The young performers give up their time to go on the road and perform at fraternal organizations to raise money for their expenses to perform for veterans in VA hospitals at no cost to them. The veterans are so happy to be entertained and Elks love the shows. Ticket costs raised $1,000 for Re-Creation. The pandemic has been a real challenge for them since they could not visit the VA hospitals. Therefore, they performed virtually through Zoom and raised funds online.

Pictured are Bailley Caldwell, performer; Dave Kelsey, lodge member and veteran; and Hailey Fafel, performer.


1511 turning yellow

On Jan. 31, Bradenton Elks Lodge #1511 used its $2,000 Elks National Foundation Spotlight Grant to provide backpacks, clothing, personal hygiene items, temporary living, and bus passes for transportation assistance to and from the Bradenton VA annex to the Manatee County Turning Points Yellow Ribbon Program in support of veterans who are struggling. The lodge also purchased a tablet to streamline the application process to refer applicants to the proper counselor.

Pictured are Bob Erwin, PDD, Exalted Ruler; Ursula Fane, Turning Points case manager; Karen Cramer, Turning Points executive director; and Bill Rauh, Lodge Veterans Chair.


2469 pres

Commissioner Maria Marino, second from left, joined residents and Homes For Our Troops officials Jan. 8 to kick off the construction of a specially adapted custom home for retired Army Staff Sergeant Michael Montange, right, at a ceremony hosted by Jupiter Elks Lodge #2469 in Jupiter Farms, Florida. The mission of Homes For Our Troops is to build and donate specially adapted custom homes nationwide for severely injured post-9/11 veterans to enable them to rebuild their lives. Names were unavailable for the other two pictured.


2469 vet

For several months, members of Jupiter Elks Lodge #2469 have been delivering care packages to veterans in need in Palm Beach County, Florida, using the Elks National Veterans Service Commission $10,000 Focus Grant.

Pictured March 17 are Dave Vertullo, PER, with veteran Wilfred Burgos Negron. 


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Ron Goluba, PER, Elks Representative to Orlando VA Medical Center, and lodge member Sue Jovi are pictured Jan. 24 and Feb. 1 helping to fill the wish lists for the veterans in need living at the Lake Nona and Lake Baldwin veterans’ facilities. They went on three shopping trips and selected more than $2,700 worth of specific sizes of new shirts, pants, shorts, shoes, belts, socks, personally requested items and hygiene items for the veterans. The lodge provided the funds for these items.