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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
352-669-9443

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From Jan. 1 to Jan. 8, Viera Elks Lodge #2817 provided furniture to five veterans transitioning to permanent housing through the VOA/SSVF (Volunteers of America/Supportive Services for Veterans Families) Transitional Housing Program using $600 from the lodge’s Elks National Foundation Focus Grant ($600). Also in January, the lodge provided $144.33 from their Focus Grant to assist in paying an electric bill and new deposit for a veteran.

During the week of March 14, Viera Lodge provided crockpots, nonperishable food items, bus passes and $15 Walmart gift cards to 25 veterans. The $2,300 expenditure was funded by the lodge’s Elks National Foundation Spotlight Grant and other charity funds.

 

From Jan. 1 to Jan. 8, Viera Elks Lodge #2817 provided furniture to five veterans transitioning to permanent housing through the VOA/SSVF (Volunteers of America/Supportive Services for Veterans Families) Transitional Housing Program using $600 from the lodge’s Elks National Foundation Focus Grant ($600). Also in January, the lodge provided $144.33 from their Focus Grant to assist in paying an electric bill and new deposit for a veteran.

During the week of March 14, Viera Lodge provided crockpots, nonperishable food items, bus passes and $15 Walmart gift cards to 25 veterans. The $2,300 expenditure was funded by the lodge’s Elks National Foundation Spotlight Grant and other charity funds.

 

1898

Past District Deputy and Pompano Beach Elks Lodge member Frank Sellers donated his time and materials to paint the front steps and the ramp of the Naval Air Force Museum in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. This is a nonprofit organization for veterans. 

 

2407 vets  2407 scouts

On Feb. 28, Oakland Park Elks Lodge #2407 held a barbecue dinner in honor of veterans using funds from the Elks National Foundation Focus Grant. The catering was provided by a local establishment, and Boy Scouts were included in the dinner, as they organized the food and cleaned up.

Pictured are veterans and members Frank Sellers, PDD; Mark Roszkowski; and Bob Gunning, trustee.

Also pictured are scout mother Jennifer Thomas, scout Declan Thomas, scout mother Jessica Benari, scout Logan Benari, scout Grayson Luzniak, and scout mother Laura Luzniak. 

 

2365 Live to Tell Foundation 002

Hollywood West Elks Lodge #2365 donated a portion of its Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant, $500, to LCpl Janos V Lutz Live to Tell Foundation, which supports military members and first responders. Pictured Feb. 11 are Jim Blanchard, District Vice President; John Allison, Exalted Ruler; Peggy Felthaus, Treasurer; Janine Lutz, LCpl Janos V Lutz Live to Tell Foundation founder and CEO; and Ed Scanlon, House Committee chair.

 

On March 15, Sarasota South Lodge donated $1,500 of food to Harvest House to feed veterans experiencing homelessness. The monies were from the Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant and matching funds from the Florida State Elks Association. Harvest House was created in 2010. Their VETS program assists male veterans who have struggled with emotional trauma and substance abuse after their service by offering housing set in a therapeutic community, recovery and life-skills classes, and case management services.

 

2495 beacon

On March 17, members of Sarasota South Lodge used more than $3,000 from the Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant and matching funds from the Florida Elks Association to supply toiletries, socks and underwear for the veterans (male and female) at C.W. Bill Young VA Hospital. Pictured are Brinton Smith; Jim Lamb, PDD; Randy Vander Yacht, Johnny Miller, Veterans Representative; and Mike Wujcik.

 

2495 GratAm

On March 4th, Sarasota South Elks Lodge #2495 hosted Gratitude America, a Florida-based nonprofit organization founded in 2011. As explained on their website at gratitudeamerica.org, “GratitudeAmerica’s mission is to provide critical support for service members, veterans and their families by conducting meaningful restorative programs to assist veterans affected by deployment exposures such as traumatic brain injury and combat-related stress. GratitudeAmerica Military Support Retreats are a breakthrough, no cost, 4-day immersive and intensive experience designed to help combat Veterans and their supporters make peace with their past so they can begin planning for their new mission at home.”

Using its $2,000 Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant to fund a portion of this four-day retreat, the lodge hosted 24 veterans and their spouses and support persons as well as GratitudeAmerica staff  at the lodge for a meal prepared and served by lodge members.

Pictured are Michael Anthony, MAJ, USAR, CEO of GratitudeAmerica, and Richard Bouchard, Exalted Ruler.

 

497 Veterans Backpack

Pensacola Beach Elks Lodge #497 partnered with the Veteran’s Assistance Program for Escambia and Santa Rosa counties in Florida to provide backpacks to veterans experiencing homelessness. The backpacks included toilet paper, face masks, socks, knit caps, soaps, nail clippers, various shampoos, hand sanitizers, hand towels, face cloths and more. Twelve backpacks were assembled. Pictured packing at the lodge Feb. 27 are lodge members KB Branch; Jon Bock with his wife, Debi; and Kenny Gramenz.

 

Deep Creek Elks Lodge #2763 used its $2,500 Elks National Foundation Freedom Grant to provide cleaning supplies, personal hygiene items, and new sheets and towels for the residents of Veterans’ Village in Punta Gorda, Florida. Each of the residents also received a $50 Walmart gift card to purchase needed clothing items. The resident manager was given $100 in quarters to be used by the residents to do their laundry, since the facility has coin-operated washers and dryers. There are currently 23 veterans (19 men and 4 women) living at the facility, which serves as a halfway house for veterans experiencing homelessness. There are 12 apartments in the facility, each shared by two people. The veterans pay rent during their stay, and the goal is to get them rehomed into the community. This project was completed during March by Kay Neilley, lodge treasurer, and Carol Aitchison, Lecturing Knight.

 

2383 Hopkins George Sharon Rudy Dolly Geoff

Brandon Lodge has a long-standing partnership with James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital. For many years, Brandon Elks have visited veterans for holidays, invited veterans to dinners and hosted veterans at picnics. On March 6, Robin Rutzke, Lodge Veterans Chair, invited Geoff Hopkins, M.Ed., Chief of Recreation Therapy at James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital, to join the Southwest Central District’s Florida Elks during the visitation of State President, Rudy Masi Sr., and his wife, Dolly Masi, PER. Rutzke asked President Masi to present their contribution to Hopkins, made possible by Brandon Lodge’s Elks National Foundation Freedom Grant — $750 in Olive Garden gift cards and a check for $300. Olive Garden works with the veterans’ hospital to meet the veterans’ dietary restrictions. Hopkins said the $300 donation will be put to good use supporting their annual picnic for their long-term patients. This year, due to the pandemic, the picnic will be held at the hospital, but it is hoped that next year’s picnic can again be held and hosted by Brandon Lodge. Hopkins shared that he has fond memories of visiting the Elks lodge with his father when he was a child, so President Masi invited him to join and is sponsoring his membership with Zephyrhills Elks Lodge #2731. Several Brandon Lodge members will attend his installation.

Pictured are George Scribner, PDD; Sharon Hammersla, District Vice President; Rudy Masi Sr., State President; Dolly Masi, PER; and Geoff Hopkins.

 

NE Gold

NEFLGoldStar2  NEFLGoldStar3

On Feb. 27, the six lodges of the Northeast District — Gainesville #990, Green Cove Springs #1892, Jacksonville #221, Mandarin-St. Johns #2866, Orange Park #2605 and St. Augustine #829 — joined together to donate a flagpole to the newest Gold Star Memorial located at Cecil Field in Jacksonville, Florida. This is the fifth Gold Star Memorial in the state with 76 memorials across the country. This memorial, organized by the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs, honors the sacrifice of veterans killed in action, missing in action or listed as prisoners of war. The plaque, bench, garden and flagpole are dedicated to Gold Star families, and the ceremony included moving speeches by several Gold Star family members and members of the military.

Pictured are Steve Easton, Mandarin-St. Johns Lodge Exalted Ruler; Sam Runyon, Garden Club member; Renee Taylor, Elk spouse and Gold Star family member; Ed Weston, Green Cove Springs Lodge Exalted Ruler; Emily Hughson, volunteer and family member of Green Cove Springs Lodge member; Connie Sarnowski, St. Augustine Lodge Exalted Ruler; Joy Elrod, Green Cove Springs Lodge Inner Guard and Garden Club member; Olena Siranni Roberts, Garden Club member; Bill Watson III, Jacksonville Lodge Exalted Ruler; Al Williams, Green Cove Springs Lodge Leading Knight; Greg Hughson, PDD of Green Cove Springs Lodge;  Paul Orvosh, PDD, Mandarin-St. Johns Lodge Advisor; and Scott Wilson of Jacksonville Lodge, endorsed Northeast District Vice President.