On May 11, 58 Vietnam veterans, 16 Korean War veterans and seven World War II veterans were welcomed home from an Honor Flight to Washington, D.C., which is sponsored by the nonprofit organization Southeast Florida Honor Flight based in Stuart, Fla. These flights are four times a year and the Delray Beach Elks Lodge Veterans Committee (Chairman, Laurie Rogers, and members Phyllis Baxter, Bonnie Permenter and Patti Lydon) goes to Palm Beach International Airport to welcome home these veterans.
Zephyrhills Elks Lodge #2731 presented a donation of $225 to the Chief of Recreation Therapy at James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital in Tampa, Fla. Pictured are Ron Ellison, lodge member; Geoff Hopkins, Chief of Recreation Service; and Ken Fabiani, PER.
St. Petersburg Lodge member Ed White recently chaired an event that raised $1,060 for veterans. The lodge presented $500 to the C.W. Bill Young VAMC’s Psychosocial Rehabilitation and Recovery Center (PRRC) unit. The lodge will use $100 to purchase hats for veterans and the remaining $460 will be used to purchase and distribute canteen books for visiting veterans used at the BX or canteen at Bay Pines. The Veterans Canteen Service (VCS) was created in 1946 to provide articles of merchandise and services at reasonable prices to veterans enrolled in the VA health-care system, caregivers and visitors.
Pictured at the St. Petersburg Lodge presentation of $500 to the C.W. Bill Young VAMC’s Psychosocial Rehabilitation and Recovery Center (PRRC) unit are Jessica D’Allesio, PRRC recreation therapist; Ed White, lodge event chairman; Johnny Miller, Deputy Representative to C.W. Bill Young VAMC; and Chrissy Agenor, PRRC program manager.
The Bay Pines VA Healthcare System hosted a stand down for homeless veterans March 30 in the Veterans Courtyard at the C.W. Bill Young VAMC campus. Hundreds of veterans were provided with a broad range of necessities including food; clothing; medical, legal and mental health assistance; job counseling and referrals; and companionship and camaraderie. As in years past, St. Petersburg Lodge hosted a table and handed out 500 double-layered fleece blankets. The blankets were made during the course of the 2018-2019 lodge year by Kat Chaplin and other lodge members. The lodge held multiple fundraisers throughout the year and received donations from members and the lodge’s Ladies of Elks organization to purchase fleece material at a cost of $19,200.
Pictured at Bay Pines VA Healthcare System’s veterans stand down March 30 are St. Petersburg Lodge members Debbie Rase, Kat Chaplin and Cathy Sosa.
St. Petersburg Elks Lodge #1224 donated their hall and hosted seven veterans graduating from C. W. Bill Young VAMC’s Psychosocial Rehabilitation and Recovery Center (PRRC) program along with 75 of their relatives, friends and staff in attendance. Graduation from PRRC is a milestone and an outward demonstration of each veteran’s commitment to the recovery process as evidenced by their achievement of goals and acquisition of considerable knowledge, skills and abilities. St. Petersburg Lodge is proud to host and take part in this event twice a year.
St. Petersburg Lodge hosts PRRC graduates (back row) James Sollars, Jack Northrop, Dan MacDonald, Gail Leonard, Craig Brodeur, Juan Collazo and Joel Scully. Pictured in the front row are Chrissy Agenor, PRRC program manager, and Stacey Delong and Jessica D’Allesio, PRRC recreation therapists.
Jacksonville Elks Lodge #221 used its Elks National Foundation Anniversary Grant to help military members while lessening the burdens of government by providing useful and necessary items to military members serving in Afghanistan. They worked closely with Anne Parker, president of Blue Star Mothers of America Inc., and obtained a list of those serving overseas from northeast Florida, and with the assistance of anysoldier.com, they had a list of several units whose members requested needed items. Requested items included snacks, socks and personal items. The lodge members then purchased items using the grant and sent care packages to the units. The packages included items for 720 military personnel.
The Jacksonville Elks Veterans Committee and members prepare 17 care packages to send to Afghanistan for a Cortland County resident and his troop.
A veteran arrived at Zephyrhills Lodge in dire need of financial assistance to return to his home base of Bay Pines VA Hospital in St. Petersburg, Fla., so on March 19, Ken Fabiani, Exalted Ruler, presented him with a gift card for $100.
Each year, West Palm Beach Elks Lodge #1352 holds a fundraiser for Forgotten Soldiers, an outreach program for veterans who slip through the cracks and need help adjusting to civilian life. This year’s event raised over $16,000 from raffles, auctions and donations, $1,000 of which was from the lodge.
In March, West Palm Beach Lodge hosted the Southeast District Army of Hope picnic which included a live dessert auction, bounce house, live music and more. The event raised $2,700.
Plant City Elks Lodge #1727 is supporting the Florida Forest Service program Operation Outdoor Freedom which provides recreational opportunities to wounded veterans on state forest, agricultural and private lands in Florida. The lodge donated $350 to help with the cost of meals during one of their weekend excursions held March 29-31.
Ed and Judy Wise of Plant City Lodge’s Veterans Committee present a lodge donation for Operation Outdoor Freedom to Daniel Lacy, forest ranger.
With help of a $4,500 Welcome Grant from the Elks National Veterans Commission, Jupiter Elks Lodge #2469 has hosted supply drives to support veterans who are homeless in Palm Beach County with care packages including bed sheets, bath towels, dishes, pot and pans, and many other necessities.
On Feb. 22, Miami Elks Lodge #948 in conjunction with the Miami Veteran Center, Department of Veteran Affairs hosted a veterans’ job fair with more than 80 employers including the FBI, United States Secret Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, DEA, SBA, local police and sheriff departments, Publix and Macy’s. There were 203 registered veterans and 78 family members in attendance at this event which was facilitated by Jorge Martinez of Veterans Outreach Program Specialists. Lodge volunteers served breakfast and lunch to the employers and veterans. T-shirts honoring veterans were given to attendees. These efforts were made possible by an Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant.
Lake Okeechobee Elks Lodge #2871 hosted the first of four planned Stand Downs for homeless and financially insecure veterans by utilizing the Elks National Foundation Impact Grant and purchased enough nonperishables for 110 baskets of food, 100 backpacks of hygiene products, vouchers for clothing, perishable foods, and vouchers for laundry services as well as provided hotel rooms for hot showers.