On Nov. 10, several veterans who are members of Fort Myers Elks Lodge #1288 rode in the Fort Myers Veterans Day Parade in two cars and a truck that pulled an Elks drug trailer. Pictured are Al Roehr; Dan Birt; Jack Hoagland, PER; Dick Conley, District Deputy; and Kawelo Makaneole, PER.
Palm Coast Elks Lodge #2709 held a dinner dance fundraiser Nov. 9 for the Gary Sinise Foundation during the lodge’s weekend open house. A total of 76 lodge members and members of the public attended the event which raised $5,000. The foundation honors defenders, veterans, first responders, their families and those in need.
On Nov. 9, Punta Gorda Elks Lodge #2606 held its annual Veterans Day parade which ran through downtown Punta Gorda, Fla. Several high school bands and many civic organizations were involved. The parade garnered over 1,000 spectators and more than 150 Elks were involved.
Anna Wojtalik, 97, a Navy veteran from a local veterans’ nursing home, acts as grand marshal of Punta Gorda Lodge’s Veterans Day parade.
Elroy the Elk, aka Punta Gorda Lodge office manager, Dawn McIntyre, rides in the Punta Gorda Lodge Veterans Day parade.
On Nov. 4, Largo Elks Lodge members Jeanne Reinhart, PDD and Rudy Fontane delivered the lodge's 30th Welcome Home Kit, a program sponsored by the Elks National Veterans Service, to Nathan Witt, Chief of Voluntary Service at Bay Pines VA Healthcare System in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Elks National Veterans Service will reimburse any lodge up to $300 for the purchase of household items for a veteran moving in to their own home. Usually, these veterans have nothing but the shirts on their backs. Lodge members donate many household items (no furniture) which are also incorporated into the kit. Included in the kit were kitchen utensils, a coffee maker, bed linens, kitchen and bath towels, cleaning supplies, a clock radio, a lamp, light bulbs, batteries, dishes, and much more.
On Nov. 4, Holley-Navarre Elks Lodge #2787, represented by Exalted Ruler, Allen VanDyk, presented a $300 check to members of the Military Family Life Counseling Program committee – teachers Tracy Fischetti, Karen Cody and Carmen Febus – at Navarre High School. The program supports service members, families and survivors with nonmedical counseling worldwide. The check was to help Navarre High School’s Military Student Support (MSS) host their inaugural military appreciation night Nov. 12 in the school cafeteria. There are 488 students at the high school who are military dependents. One of the purposes of this night was to make the active-duty members and students aware of the specific counseling support available to military families as well as to inform them that even though they live off base in Navarre, they have all the opportunities to attend and utilize on-base activities such as the youth center which received a favorable response from the military children. Parents were further introduced to tutor.com for military families which allows dependents of active-duty members access to online tutoring. Overall, this was an opportunity for active-duty military families with students at Navarre High School to hear about the many opportunities that could help make their time as a Navarre Raider a great success.
On Nov. 3, Jessie Page became the 16th veteran for which Zephyrhills Lodge furnished a new home. The lodge provided Page with a night stand and lamp, love seat, chair table and lamps, dishes, silverware, microwave oven, pots and pans, kitchen utensils, entertainment center, television, shower rod and curtains, sheets and blankets, bath towels, clothes, kitchen towels, coffee pot and coffee, and pillows. Lodge members Tom Pete, Steve Czerneski and PER Ken Fabiani assisted with these donations.
With open arms, a 14th veteran received his new home furnishings from the Veterans Committee and Zephyrhills Lodge. Jeff Couchman had a smile from ear to ear as the Elks delivered his sofa, chair, ottoman, 32-inch flat screen television, coffee maker, toaster, electric can opener, personal hygiene items, dining room table and chairs, placemats, socks, dish set with four place settings, flatware, crock pot, bath towels and wash cloths, kitchen towels, and dish rags. Pictured are Dave Crotty, member; Jeff Couchman, veteran; and PER Ken Fabiani, Veterans Chairman. Not pictured is member Tom Pete.
On Sept. 27, Zephyrhills Elks Lodge #32731 helped their 13th veteran, James Esser, move into his own place. The Elks provided him with pots, pans, a crock pot, a television, a four-piece dinner set, a large three-piece recliner sofa, a dining room table with four chairs, a coffee maker, bath towels, hand towels, dish towels, a bed pillow, sheets, blankets, 12 polo shirts, a DVD player, and personal hygiene items. Members Tom Pete, David Crotty and PER Ken Fabiani, Veterans Chairman, helped make this happen.
On Oct. 26, St. Petersburg Elks Lodge #1224 held their annual USA show and veterans appreciation dinner honoring the dedicated men and women of service of all our United States Armed Forces who served in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War and beyond. The show was a full-scale patriotic event paying tribute to our military. Fred Wall, an Elk from Largo Lodge #2159, was the oldest veteran present. He is 94 years old and served both the Atlantic and the Pacific Theatre during World War II as a Seaman 1st Class in the Navy and had the honor of cutting the cake representing all military branches. Representing the youngest veteran was Amy Evans, U.S. Air Force, who is 50 years old. Proceeds from this event will benefit C.W. Bill Young VAMC. Present at this year’s event were eight veterans who participated in the National Golden Age Games held in Anchorage, Alaska, June 5-10. Proceeds from 2018’s USA show sponsored these veterans’ attendance at the games.
The Veterans Committee from Zephyrhills Lodge donated coffee (special blend, mixed blends, and decaffeinated) to James A. Haley Veterans Hospital in Tampa, Fla. Janet Lopez from Volunteer Services received the coffee from Ken Fabiani, PER. The coffee will be going to the Spinal Cord Department and Rehab Department on the third floor at Building #38 for veterans in rehab or spinal cord recovery. There are three refreshment rooms the veterans can use any time of the day, but the hospital does not supply the coffee. The donation was worth $1,200.
A call went out to the community surrounding the Sarasota National Cemetery for people to attend the funeral of a 90-year-old World War II veteran with no family or friends to attend. The Southwest District heard that call and responded. Representatives from all lodges in the district joined the community with over 2,500 in attendance for the funeral for Edward Pearson Oct. 1.
Among the Elks of the Southwest District attending a veteran’s funeral who had no family or friends to attend are Sherrie and David Gillum of Venice-Nokomis Lodge #1854.
The West Citrus Lodge Veterans Committee held their 2019 dinner dance fundraiser Sept. 28. It was a great success with over $3,000 raised to assist veterans in the local assisted living facilities throughout the year. The event consisted of music, dancing and a silent auction.