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St. Petersburg Elks Continue to Support Veterans

On April 19, the veterans from C. W. Bill Young VA Domiciliary were St. Petersburg Lodge’s guests for dinner and karaoke. Eleven veterans and one staff member attended and five Elks were on hand to serve the veterans their dinner and soda and gave each veteran coupon books for their on-site store. The total spent on the veterans that evening was $209.

St. Petersburg Lodge continues its monthly bowling program with veterans. On May 1, eight veterans bowled two games and were provided lunch and a beverage. Three Elks assisted the veterans.

 

Port St. Lucie Elks Lodge Unveils Purple Heart Recipient Parking

2658 Mast

On April 29, U.S. Congressman Brian Mast (FL-18) had accepted an invitation to attend the Port St. Lucie Elks Lodge #2658 patriot breakfast and meet with veteran members of the lodge and their guests to share a breakfast and camaraderie as a veteran. Also, in honor of the new Purple Heart Recipient Parking sign in the lodge parking lot, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was also held and was cut by Mast to officially open the parking space. The Wounded Warriors’ Family Support offers Wounded Combat Parking signs free of charge to establishments as a way of honoring and recognizing these veterans. Congressman Mast is pictured with Rick Barth, Exalted Ruler.

 

Zephyrhills Elks Donate to Support the Troops Organization

2731 Support

Zephyrhills Elks Lodge’s Elks National Foundation Chairman, Judy Osgood, presented a donation to Support the Troops, an organization that mails packages to active military to support their needs. Pictured with Osgood are Thomas “Skeet” Kuoczinske who was filling in for the Director, Mark Vantrees, and Ken Fabiani, Exalted Ruler.

 

Congressman Delivers Flag to Plant City Elks

1727 Flag

Plant City Lodge member and veteran Fred Lee asked Judy Wise, Veterans Chairman, if she could obtain an American flag that had flown over the capitol. She contacted Congressman Dennis Ross who not only obtained the flag but also came to the lodge May 2 to present it to Lee. Lee wanted it for all the veterans at the lodge, not just for himself. Lee’s family was present to see him honored for his unselfish desire to share with his band of brothers. Pictured are Marty Carroll, Fred Lee, Judy Wise and Congressman Ross.

 

Army of Hope Helps National Guardsman Before Leaving Armory

1727 Corwin

In January, Plant City Elks Lodge #1727 was advised about the coming departure April 25 of 25 National Guard members from the Plant City Armory. The lodge gave them a nice dinner at the armory and Judy Wise was given the opportunity to talk about the Army of Hope and the Elks’ ongoing support of veterans and active military personnel. A few months later, she was contacted regarding a soldier who was having air-conditioning problems and had just spent most of their disposable income making sure his wife’s car was in good shape. Their air-conditioning had been patched but they were warned it would not last. Wise applied for Army of Hope funds to help him out and it was approved just days before he left. His appreciation was overwhelming for the burden the Elks took from his shoulders. The lodge also packed 25 bags full of travel goodies for the guards to take with them and six Elks attended the moving departure ceremony.

 

Viera Elks Visit Vietnam Memorial Traveling Wall

2817 Wreaths

On April 15, the Vietnam Memorial Traveling Wall made its annual visit to Brevard County. Members of Viera Elks Lodge #2817 of Rockledge gathered at the lodge to witness the parade and then traveled to Wickham Park in Melbourne to witness the placing of their wreath at the wall. The wreath was presented by ER Wendy Carns, member Don Flammio and PER Tom Carns.

 

St. Petersburg Elks Make Blankets for Stand Down for Homeless Veterans

1224 Blankets

On Saturday, April 14, St. Petersburg Elks Lodge #1224 participated in The Bay Pines VA Healthcare System Stand Down for homeless veterans that took place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Veterans’ Courtyard at the C. W. Bill Young VA Medical Center. Over 700 homeless veterans attended this event this year.

St. Petersburg Lodge had a table with 205 double-sided fleece blankets that were made by a group of volunteers. The project was spearheaded by Americanism Chairman, Kat Chaplin.

The hope of the lodge was that one of our blankets would make someone living on the street or sleeping in their car more comfortable. The total cost of the project was $2,950 and took a year to complete.

Kat Chaplin, St. Petersburg Lodge Americanism Chairman, holds one of the blankets given away at a Stand Down for homeless veterans.

 

Veterans are Always Remembered at West Palm Beach Lodge

West Palm Beach Elks Lodge #1352 stays actively involved with veterans. They held an adopt-a-veteran dinner dance that raised funds for the lodge’s veterans’ charity fund. They also invite the recently diagnosed blind veterans from the VA Medical Center once a month for karaoke. Members purchased the non-alcoholic drinks and the veterans enjoyed food from the pub menu. In addition, the lodge purchased and distributed five Elks welcome-home kits for local veterans who are transitioning into permanent housing. At the end of March, the lodge hosted a luncheon at a local restaurant for a group of inpatient veterans from the local VA hospital.

 

Southeast District Holds Army of Hope Fundraiser

SE AOH

The Southeast District held its annual fundraiser for the Army of Hope at Jupiter Elks Lodge and raised $6,500. It was an All-American family barbecue with classic cars, family activities for all ages, an Honor Guard presentation by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office assisted by local scouts, and a live cake auction with donated cakes and baked goods made by members of the district. Jupiter Lodge planned and carried out the special bingo allocated to the cause that brought in $2,000.

Southeast District Vice President David Monsour is pictured with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard assisted by local scouts.

 

VAMC Deputy Representative Provides Music for VAMC Open House

1224 VAMC

On March 20, the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center in Bay Pines, Fla., hosted the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System’s 85th anniversary open house for veterans and their families to highlight the programs and services the organization offers veterans. Bay Pines VA currently serves more than 110,000 veterans and employs nearly 4,300 clinical and administrative professionals.

Vietnam veterans who attended the event also received a special commemorative lapel pin along with several other items as part of the nation’s continued commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.

Different organizations set up booths to highlight programs; about 150 veterans attended the event. St. Petersburg Elks Lodge member and Elks Deputy Representative to the VAMC, Johnny Miller, donated his time by being the DJ and providing the background music during the event that lasted from 1-4 p.m.

Pictured are Deputy Representative, Johnny Miller; Director of the Bay Pines facility, Suzanne Klinker; and Director of the VA Voluntary Services, Nathan Witt.

 

Arcadia Elks Use Beacon Grant for Operation Outdoor Freedom

1524 Outdoor

Members of Arcadia Elks Lodge #1524 were very impressed with Operation Outdoor Freedom when they saw an article in their local paper. They invited Derek Doig with the Division of Forestry and a director of the program to the lodge to give a presentation. Arcadia members soon organized the use of a Beacon Grant to aid this worthwhile veterans program. Operation Outdoor Freedom has several camps in the state where they host needy veterans on an outdoor getaway. A weekend in the woods enjoying nature, hunting, eating great food and reconnecting with their fellow veterans is just what they enjoy.

On March 23, Arcadia Lodge and Operation Outdoor Freedom hosted a weekend “hunt” on SWFMD property in Manatee County. Many lodge members helped organize and coordinate the weekend. Members cooked tenderloin steaks, shrimp, potatoes, veggies, rolls, and a salad plus great designer cupcakes and cookies. The lodge also funded food and supplies for the rest of the veterans’ stay. While they were there they had a great opportunity to meet many of our nation’s heroes, both those there for the weekend getaway and the great volunteers who make this program work. The Lodge is also providing some needed furnishings and supplies for the camp in DeSoto County. This will be an ongoing program for Arcadia Lodge.

 

Southwest District Holds Successful Army of Hope Fundraiser

On Sunday, March 25, the Southwest District held their annual Army of Hope and Veterans fundraiser. Helping to salute military families and veterans were the VFW Sarasota Sunshine Post 3233 with a 21-gun salute and playing of taps and the Sarasota Civil Air Patrol Cadets who presented the colors. The cadets also demonstrated the 13 folds of the American flag. Ed Burton, a 28-year Navy veteran representing the Southeast Guide Dogs and Vietnam veteran Col. Ben Knisley were the guest speakers. Entertainment was provided by Lynn’s Spins with a special show of “Easter Parade” with a twist, with performers being represented from all seven lodges. One of the highlights of the day was watching Frank Malatesta, Florida’s Vice President at Large, get hit in the face with two pies after receiving $1,200 in donations for the opportunity to toss the pies from the highest bidder, bringing the total to nearly $6,500 raised for Army of Hope this year. 

 

Louisiana State Legislature Increases New Orleans Hotel Occupancy Tax

The Legislature of the State of Louisiana has acted to increase the New Orleans Hotel Occupancy Tax from 13% to 14.75% effective April 1, 2014. This will affect our convention room rates and they will go from $128.56 to $130.52 per night.

Convention Attendees With ADA Transportation Needs Urged To Contact Grand Lodge

In order for the Grand Lodge to support the transportation needs of attendees with disabilities you are urged to contact the Grand Lodge if you require special assistance. Special coaches capable of kneeling to accommodate wheel chairs will be placed along the routes for those in need. If you require assistance please contact Tina or Jessica at the Grand Lodge as follows:

TinaH@elks.org

JessicaR@elks.org

 

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