State President's Message
- Written by Frank Malatesta
Time is really flying by for Sally and me and VPAL Tom and Joyce Ludwick! What an honor it is for us to travel our great state and meet so many new friends and rekindle many friendships from the past. Visiting so many lodges and seeing firsthand all the wonderful things you are doing for your communities, our children and our veterans is very rewarding. We do have so many lodges and members that are practicing the Elks motto, “Elks Care – Elks Share.”
Since the summer magazine, we have been very busy. We attended the Grand Lodge convention in San Antonio and we have visited four more districts and had the pleasure to attend the FLOE conference at Lake Buena Vista Resort.
It was truly my pleasure to represent the Florida State Elks Association as your state president at the 150th anniversary of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks in San Antonio. I was proud to have the honor to carry and present the Florida state flag on Sunday at the opening ceremony. Congratulations go to our 14 District Deputies who were installed by the new Grand Exalted Ruler, Michael T. Luhr.
Soon after returning from San Antonio, we traveled to the Southwest Central District. Friday night at Plant City Lodge #1727 was enjoyed by all. On Saturday we toured the American Victory docked at the port of Tampa. This floating museum is really a treasure. We had a delicious lunch at Jackson’s Bistro. Saturday evening’s visit to Brandon Lodge #2383 was great. We were greeted at the door by Florida Brass that played before and during dinner. DVP George Scribner and his wife, Mary Lou, made Sally and me feel at home with their warm hospitality.
On our visit to the Southeast District, we had the privilege of attending the 100th anniversary celebration of West Palm Beach Lodge #1352 on Friday evening. What a great accomplishment! PGER Bob Grafton was there to tell those in attendance a lot about the history of the lodge and West Palm Beach. It was truly a memorable evening. On Saturday we went to Lion Country Safari and were able to feed the giraffes. Then we were off to Jupiter Lodge #2469 for a fantastic lunch. All the volunteers did a great job welcoming us to their lodge. Dinner was at West Palm Beach Lodge where everyone wore their favorite baseball team attire and the room was decorated in a baseball theme. DVP George Zocchi and his wife, Esther, were great hosts for the weekend.
Our next visit was to the South Southeast District where we were greeted by DVP Frank Sellers and Charlotte Burrie. Friday evening dinner was at Hollywood West Lodge #2365. All in attendance witnessed a room full of baseball memorabilia. We enjoyed a marvelous meal and lots of fun. We had a wonderful breakfast at Boca Raton Lodge #2166 Saturday morning. We went on a city tour on the Pompano Water Taxi Saturday and thanks to Pompano Beach Fire Department, we had a very safe outing. Our lunch Saturday afternoon at Delay Beach Lodge #1770 was fantastic thanks to the many volunteers. We had an awesome dinner Saturday evening at the Westin Hotel. I was presented with a key to the city of Pompano Beach and a lot of baseball souvenirs. Again, DVP Frank Sellers and Charlotte Burrie were wonderful hosts all weekend.
Our next visit was to the West Central District. Our hosts for the weekend were DVP Tony Fratello and his wife, Marilyn. Friday evening dinner at New Port Richey Lodge #2284 was awesome. We started Saturday with sightseeing and shopping at the sponge docks in historic Tarpon Springs. It was a beautiful day for the boat tour and we were able to stroll on the beach at Anclote Key and watch dolphins. The Saturday evening dinner at Tarpon Springs Lodge #1719 was great. We were entertained by Levendia Dance Troupe before dinner. Mayor Chris Alahouzos presented me with a sponge diver statue from Greece. The weekend was topped off by a big win by the Tampa Bay Rays. I was honored to be able to throw out the first pitch to start the game. It was especially satisfying to see our therapy CHAMP, Jackson, call “Play Ball!” to start the game.
The FLOE conference at Lake Buena Vista Resort was very informative and a great celebration. We listened to reports about all the wonderful accomplishments of the ladies organizations throughout Florida. We saw Felicia Vuletich installed as president along with all the new officers, and we watched as Mary McCoy received her new title of Past State President. Thank you, ladies, for all your dedication and your donations to our major projects and the support of your lodges.
My motto is “Make the Best Better.” I hope that every Exalted Ruler in our great state thinks that their lodge is the best and that they work every day to make their lodge better. This can be achieved by making your Harry-Anna Trust Fund goal and initiating all candidates on hand as soon as possible.
Sally and I want to thank everyone who has made us feel so welcome and special on our visits. We are looking forward to seeing you on the remainder of our visits and at the midyear convention at the Plantation on Crystal River in November. God bless our troops, God bless the Florida State Elks Association and may God bless America.
Florida State Elks Association