Cape Coral Elks Lodge #2596 participated in the city's Veterans Day parade. Pictured riding in the parade are lodge members and veterans Ignazio Fragione (World War II) and Joe Talamo (Korean War). Not pictured is Vietnam veteran John Nugent, the lodge’s representative at the Vietnam Veterans memorial ceremony in Washington, D.C., Nov. 10.
A message from Rudy Masi Sr.
Historical Programs Liaison/Endorsed Florida Elks State Association VPAL
Greetings, 2018 Parade of Heroes attendees.
We hope everyone thoroughly enjoyed participating in this historical event! Once again, Florida Elks thank each of you for your service! We are proud of you and pleased to be able to offer you this wonderful experience!
Your group leaders shared with me how your flexibility, camaraderie and fun attitude contributed to a successful trip! Please join me in thanking Toni Goodrich, PDD, Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services Board member; George Scribner, Southwest Central District Vice President and Veterans Services state chairman; and Carol Barkalow, St. Petersburg Lodge Esquire, for their leadership this past weekend.
The annual Parade of Heroes was held in Washington, D.C., during Veterans Day week. This event featured outstanding bands, choirs and JROTC cadets from around the country in a special tribute to our veterans at the WWII, Korean War and Vietnam memorials. The Parade of Heroes is a moving timeline of American military history where we recognize and celebrate historical moments in the history of our nation helping to ensure that the sacrifices made by many in our nation are never forgotten and that they are passed on to future generations of Americans.
A story with photos will be posted on our state and national Elks Facebook pages.
Please join me in thanking PSP Frank Palladini; COO/Secretary, Carl Seibert; West Central District Deputy, Theresa Matthews; and the many Elks who were at Tampa International Airport to welcome you home!
On Nov. 3, the St. Petersburg Ladies of Elks Auxiliary and lodge 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 first Gulf War and beyond. The show’s theme was "A Walk through the 1940s” and was a full-scale patriotic event paying tribute to our military. The evening provided a look back at the war with music, skits, food and entertainment. Presentation of colors and the Pledge of Allegiance were led by veterans of the Korean War Color Guard Chapter 14. There was also a parade of military flags carried by veterans who had served in those branches. The co-chairs for this event were Dolly Masi, PLP and Adella Ashton, PLP along with emcee Bob "Rudy Masi, PDD" Hope.
Attendees included retired Major General Jack O’Connor and his wife, Andrea, and C. W. Bill Young VAMC guests Nathan Dewitt, Chief of Voluntary Services; 10 veterans; and their driver. Ervin Stark, an Elk from Largo Lodge #2159, was the oldest veteran present. He is 96 years old and had the honor of cutting the cake representing all branches of our military. Representing our youngest veteran was 35-year-old Jennifer Perron, U.S. Army, who served in Iraq in 2004 and was one of the guest veterans from the VAMC. Stark served cake to Perron as a symbol of the oldest veteran passing on his knowledge from the old to the new and emphasizing that he cares for our young before he looks to his own needs. Proceeds from this event and several others held during the October will benefit C. W. Bill Young VAMC and the Florida State Elks Association Historical Programs partnership.
On Sunday, Oct. 14, 26 members from Lakeland Elks Lodge #1291 went to James A. Haley VA Hospital in Tampa, Fla., and utilized their Freedom Grant to cook and serve lunch to approximately 400 patients and some staff for a total of 600 meals. Meals were delivered to the patients’ rooms for those who were not able to get out. Music and karaoke were also provided. In addition, approximately $1,500-worth of shoes, underwear and personal-care items as well as $1,010 in various gift cards were donated to the hospital for use in the patients’ care and rehabilitative therapy.
Zephyrhills Elks Lodge members Diana & Dee Mauro donated a banner that bears a message of thanks to veterans. It is mounted over the lodge doorway and is the last thing veterans see before boarding their bus after their Friday dinners at the lodge. On the first and third Friday of each month, veterans from James A. Haley Veteran’s Hospital are served dinner. On the second Friday, veterans from the James A. Haley Veteran’s Hospital Domiciliary attend dinner. The domiciliary provides opportunities for motivated but at-risk veterans to participate in a residential rehabilitative therapeutic community. The goal is to return each veteran to independent living. On the fourth Friday, veterans from Westbrooke Manor Assisted Living receive their dinner.
Florida Keys Elks Lodge #1872 donated $650 to the Upper Keys VFW Post 10211 for their building project. The VFW has currently been just a dingy bar, but their new commander, Dennis Ward, who is also an Elks member, has taken over a building project to add rooms for therapy, classes and yoga so it will no longer just be a bar. The reopening is scheduled for Nov. 10.
Dennis Tarbell, Florida Keys Lodge Exalted Ruler, presents a $650 donation to Dennis Ward, Commander of the Upper Keys VFW Post 10211, for their building project.
On Oct. 17, Englewood Elks Lodge presented a donation of $500 to Fish’n for Heroes Wounded Warriors Inc. This organization takes veterans on a fishing trip; afterward, the veterans are taken to a restaurant where the fish they caught is prepared for them. The lodge’s donation covers four veterans and a helper. This donation was possible in part from the lodge’s Elks National Foundation Anniversary Grant with additional ongoing fundraising to support veterans projects.
John Dichazi, Englewood Lodge Exalted Ruler; James O’Brien, President of Fish’n for Heroes; Debbie O’Brien, Treasurer of Fish’n for Heroes; and Paul Colicci, Veterans Committee Chairman, take part in Englewood Elks’ donation presentation to Fish’n for Heroes Oct. 17.
Viera Elks Lodge #2817 presented a donation of $2,745 to Operation Shoebox, a central Florida organization which embraces a practical mission of providing hands-on support for troops deployed overseas. The volunteers gather personal comfort items for deployed military members and mail “shoeboxes” overseas of treats to make them feel remembered. Operation Shoebox has delivered over one million boxes and 50,000 stockings to the troops. The lodge’s members have been donating personal items for quite a while, but during their recent visit to the facility in Belleview, Fla., to deliver those items, they learned that the most immediate need is for money to ship the boxes. The lodge decided to donate funds to them instead and reached out to other lodges in the Southeast Central District and raised $2,745. The lodge will continue their support and will encourage the district to do the same for this worthy organization.
Viera Lodge Leading Knight, Vinny Traviglia; Secretary, Patti Traviglia; Esquire, Chris Ferris; and Exalted Ruler, Wendy Carns, present a check for $2,745 to Operation Shoebox volunteer, Helen.
On Oct. 1, Englewood Elks Lodge’s Exalted Ruler, John Dichazi, and Veterans Committee chairman and co-chairman, Paul Colicci and Joyce Sousa, visited four area veterans nursing facilities to deliver new 43"-televisions for the common rooms. Packages for each facility containing socks, hats, puzzles, games and books were also donated. This program to enrich the lives of area veterans was funded in part by the lodge’s Elks National Foundation Anniversary Grant.
John Dichazi, Englewood Lodge Exalted Ruler; Pauline Harris, 100-year-old veteran; Joyce Sousa and Paul Colicci, Veterans Committee co-chairman and chairman; and Jenny Kennaner, Springs of South Biscayne assistant director, take part in Englewood Lodge’s television presentation to one of four veterans nursing facilities Oct. 1.
Members of the Largo Lodge Veterans Committee recently delivered the 11th welcome-home kit to the C.W. Bill Young VAMC. The kits are designed for veterans leaving the VA to live independently in their own residence and include small appliances, kitchen utensils, towels, bathroom accessories, bedding, paper products, lamps, dishes and any other items that might be necessary to set up a household. Some items are purchased and some are donated by lodge members. This project is supported by the National Elks Veterans Service.
Jeanne Reinhart, PDD delivers a welcome-home kit from Largo Lodge to C.W. Bill Young VAMC in St. Petersburg, Fla. Nathan Witt, Chief of Voluntary Service at the VAMC, accepts the donation.
On Aug. 11, 140 people celebrated veterans at a special dinner and dance. Veterans were treated to a free dinner and a goody bag consisting of a t-shirt and hat. The dinner was catered by Dickies BarBQue and entertainment was provided by Lynn’s Spins.
Jennifer, an Army wife who was advised of the Army of Hope by the Florida Army National Guard, reached out to the program because her family is experiencing a hardship. She is the mother of Daphne, three, and Sophia, 12. Her husband is currently on deployment in Kuwait. as Jennifer explains, “Sophia was born with a chromosomal anomaly which presents many difficulties for her including severe learning disabilities, low muscle tone and the growing potential for seizures as she matures. She also has dyspraxia, a lifelong neurological condition which imparts her executive functioning, coordination, balance, and abilities to read, write and count, among many other things. Lastly, she has moderate autism. As she has grown into her preteens, life is changing to us as we accommodate her in different and more challenging ways.”
Her husband, Chief Warrant Officer Todd Slaughter, has been deployed to the Special Operations Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve in Kuwait since January 2018. “His absence at home has made raising Sophia very challenging. She cannot ever be left alone and does not engage in typical activities such as sleepovers, childcare, etc. Our days are always spent together.”
Recently, Jennifer and Todd decided to take Sophia out of public school. Though she was given a vast amount of accommodations, the system was still unable to provide a curriculum for her that worked and that she could access. Sophia even had a one-to-one aid throughout her school day, but it was not enough. This past year, in fourth grade, her abilities regressed back to that of a first-grader. It broke their hearts to see her falling so far behind her peers. She became of the age where social interaction was challenging. She was bullied and called stupid and weird. In her last meeting with her school teachers, she was met with frustration on their side as they felt she was in the wrong place with the wrong children. Sitting across the table from them, she felt helpless.
District Army of Hope Chairman, Spike Jones, referred Jennifer to PDD Jim Lamb who interviewed her. He shared her story with Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services therapist Margo Baker to see if she could help. In a week, Sophia was approved and is now receiving therapy from Baker. At the same time, requested financial assistance from the Army of Hope to help them get caught up on some bills. The Army of Hope wrote a check for $1,500. Lamb received a phone call from Todd in Kuwait thanking him and all Elks for their help.