State Sponsor Message
- Written by C. Valentine Bates, PGER
As I write this article for our new Florida Elks Magazine, Florida Elks have just concluded one of our most successful and most noteworthy Grand Lodge conventions in many years, and wouldn’t you know that I had to sit this one out for health reasons. I kept in touch with the happenings, and PNP Mike Smith and PSP and past Grand Lodge Ritual Committee Chairman, Brian Burns, acted as my on-site reporters and I thank them for reporting our many successes so I could brag about them in this article.
First and foremost are the membership awards. Florida Elks placed first in the nation in recognition of significant membership improvement and second in the nation in membership growth with a gain of 352. Thank you, Suzi Simonelli and all Florida Elks, who worked tirelessly to achieve this goal! Please continue our tremendous successes with membership growth!
PDD Pete Vaphiades came in second in Area 3 in the number of new members proposed; that’s quite an accomplishment and honor. All Florida Elks thank you.
Tallahassee Lodge won the Grand Lodge ritualistic competition and had three All-Americans: John Bozeman, All-American Leading Knight; Ron Brown, All-American Inner Guard; and Adrienne Bellflower, All-American Candidate. All-American Coaches were Jan Thorburn and Tracey Austin.
Achieving this great honor came at just the right time as Past State President Larry Henley, also from Tallahassee Lodge, had the honor of being sworn in as Grand Esteemed Lecturing Knight. Florida Elks can be very proud of Larry and the officers of Tallahassee Lodge for keeping Florida Elks in the forefront on the Grand Lodge national stage.
Both the major projects booth and the Florida Elks News won five-star awards yet again. As always, our major projects shine due to the dedication, enthusiasm and generosity of Florida Elks.
The legislative session resulted in a few changes. The requirement that the initiatory ritual be performed at the visit of the District Deputy was eliminated. The short form of the initiatory ritual is no longer an option. Lodges are permitted to have a minimum of just one meeting per month. The Lodge Treasurer now has more latitude in paying lodge bills via electronic transfer or debit card use. I’m sure the Exalted Rulers of the various lodges will give a full report on all the legislative changes.
Mike, Bob and I wish everyone a safe summer. Don’t forget to attend the official visit(s) of our State President, Carl Gerace, and Cathy, along with VPAL Frank Malatesta and Sally. These two couples will represent us well. We all thank John Harris for a job well done.
On a personal note, I thank all of you for your calls, emails, cards and prayers. This is just a blip on the health radar screen and all will be well by the midyear meeting of the FSEA in Crystal River. We look forward to seeing you there.
C. Valentine Bates, PGER
State Sponsor, Florida State Elks Association