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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


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

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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. 


Inverness Elks Hold Veterans Breakfast

As part of the 150th Elks’ anniversary celebration weekend, Inverness Lodge held a veterans breakfast. With plenty of volunteers to help, they served nearly 180 breakfasts to a hungry group of guests. This event has had steady growth over the years and the bonus this year was that they received $640 in donations.


Veterans Enjoy Dinner at Apopka Elks Lodge

Apopka Elks Lodge #2422 sponsored their third veterans’ dinner at the lodge for the visiting veterans from the Lake Nona VA Hospital community village and their caretakers. Veterans were from WWII, Korea, Vietnam and Desert Storm. Entertainment was on the agenda and small parting gifts were offered to the veterans. The event was chaired by Ed Velazquez, three-year Trustee, who plans to have two more dinners.


Florida Keys Lodge Hosts Members of Team River Runner

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Florida Keys Lodge invited the River Runners along with many members for a fish fry as part of their annual visit to the Florida Keys to enjoy the outdoors with guides and kayaks. River Runner’s mission is to provide all veterans and their families an opportunity to find health, healing, community purpose, and new challenges through adventure and adaptive paddle sports.


Florida Keys Elks Serve Lunch to Veterans

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Florida Keys Elks Lodge volunteers and members had a good time hosting the veterans from the VA Hospital in Miami for lunch. Lodge members cooked and served while Lee Kibbey entertained with Karaoke and trivia.

1872 Vets and Members


Gainesville Elks Use Freedom Grant for Veterans Stand Down

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Gainesville Lodge members participated in the annual Alachua County Veterans Stand Down which provides homeless as well as housed veterans with basic supplies and personal items. The lodge used a Freedom Grant to purchase supplies to donate. Pictured are Loyal Knight, Linda Califf; member Jim Chadwick; Tiler, Rachel Meldrem; ER Dayna Miller; Steve Linton, PER; Veterans Chairman, Larry Croy, PER; and Pam Croy.


Re-Creation and Gainesville Elks Give Veterans Enjoyable Afternoon

Eight Gainesville Elks Lodge members attended a performance by Re-Creation at the Malcom Randall VAMC in January along with 47 veterans and staff members. Re-Creation put on a one-hour outstanding performance which was followed by a standing ovation. Members of the lodge served snacks and soft drinks to the veterans during the performance. Following the performance, the Re-Creation singers were served dinner at the lodge before returning to the Florida Elks Youth Camp where they were staying during their performances at VA hospitals in Florida.

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Pictured is 87-year-old veteran Philip Bane with one of the Re-Creation performers during a show at Malcom Randall VAMC.

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Gainesville Elks serving snacks and drinks during the Re-Creation performance were (back row) Randye Tucker; Dennis Squires, PER; and Larry Croy, Veterans Chairman. In the front row were Rachel Meldrem, Tiler; Jim Chadwick; Martha Sue Hill; Steve Linton, PER; and Pam Croy.


K9s for Warriors Gets Generous Donation from Green Cove Springs Lodge

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The third annual K9s for Warriors bingo night was held at Green Cove Springs Lodge March 6. The 125 Elks charity bingo players raised $2,452 for the K9 program which provides service dogs to veterans with PTSD. The veterans and dogs train together for 16 weeks at no cost to the veterans. The highlight of the evening was Kona, a puppy in training. Her volunteer puppy trainer, Kristen Sawyer, and Community Events Coordinator, Stephanie Vogt, came along to inform the bingo players about the K9 program. ER Tracy Carroll and Lodge Veterans Chairman, PER Rick Kunze, presented Vogt with an additional check for $1,250 from the lodge’s ENF Gratitude Grant.

Kona awaits a treat from Kristen Sawyer, trainer, prior to her presentation at Green Cove Springs Lodge while Stephanie Vogt, Community Events Coordinator with K9s for Warriors, looks on.


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:


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