During Hurricane Ian, John Piper, PER and Diane Jethwa, kitchen manager, of Lakewood Ranch-Sarasota Elks Lodge #2855 volunteered to stay at the lodge and keep it open to members and their pets so that they could shelter safely. Five members and their pets checked in Sept. 27 and stayed two days, until the hurricane passed.
Pictured is a member and her pet.
Earlier this year after receiving an email from a neighbor (whose parents were Elks) about a family in need, Sarasota South Elks Lodge #2495 got involved. They contacted the family and found out that 6-year-old Ava Zinmeister was born with a severe case of cerebral palsy caused by Kleefstra syndrome. Due to Ava’s condition, her mother, Toby, had to carry her up and down outside flights of stairs multiple times a day to transport her to therapies, doctor appointments and school. To make matters worse, Toby struggles with arthritis. It was obvious that Ava needed a lift. The lodge led a drive to raise money for a battery-operated chair lift and raised enough money in one night to pay for the chair. The lodge also informed the family about Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services. Toby said they had tried so many organizations for donations but were always told the money ran out. “The Elks stood up when no one else would; we’re so appreciative. I’m thankful to the Elks beyond words,” said Toby.
Shown in the picture is Ava in her chair with the lift wheels.
On Aug. 27, Lakewood Ranch-Sarasota Elks Lodge #2855 donated $2,000 to Hooves with H.E.A.R.T., an organization that provide supports and hope to individuals with special needs through riding therapies. Lodge members had a great time visiting with the kids and meeting the riding therapists, parents and Tilly, one of the therapy horses. They were also presented with a thank you picture board as a gift from the entire group.
Lodge member Sarah Davis, back right, presented the check to Danielle Curtis, middle. The funds were raised from a breakfast and vender fair held in the lodge in June.
Bradenton Lodge conducted an awards ceremony June 27 to recognize local small businesses that properly fly the American flag. There were 41 Bradenton small businesses awarded the Grand Exalted Ruler’s Certificate of Honor. Those who could not attend the ceremony received their award in a private visit.
Pictured are Michelle Suzano, Breezy Bakery; Dan Tabor, FSEA President; Tom Anderson, Lazy Turtle; Bob Erwin, PDD; Gene Brown, Brown and Sons Funeral Home and City of Bradenton mayor; Donna Maree, Anna Maria Oyster Bar; Jim Galanio, Pig Out Restaurant; and Elsha Douquet, Exalted Ruler.
On April 14, South Hillsborough Elks Lodge #2672 sponsored a spring dance for the students at Lennard High School who have special needs. More than 75 children, parents and staff members were in attendance. They were so impressed, especially with Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services, that they donated $400 to that program.
Pictured are Grace Bibisi, PER, event coordinator; Denny, a student; and Allan Ross, educator.
On June 11, Lakewood Ranch-Sarasota Lodge held a breakfast and vendor fair to raise money for Hooves with H.E.A.R.T. (Horse Education and Riding Therapy). Their mission is to provide support and hope to individuals with special needs through equine-assisted activities and riding therapies. The lodge raised more than $1,200.
Pictured are two of the riding therapists, Susannah Cripe and Danielle Curtis.
On May 26, South Hillsborough Lodge sponsored a graduation for RCMA (Redlands Christian Migrant Association), whose motto is Opening Doors to Opportunities. These 44 young men and women had many achievements and the lodge members were proud to provide the building for their graduation.
Pictured are the students and guests.
On June 24, Bradenton Elks Lodge #1511 hosted an awards ceremony for Hooves with H.E.A.R.T., a horse therapy organization for children who have special needs. The Southwest District, Lakewood Ranch-Sarasota Elks Lodge #2855 and Bradenton Lodge donated a total of $5,500 toward their programs.
Pictured are Susan Erwin, PER, Bradenton #1511; Coleen Gallant, Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services Director; Fiona Danielle Curtis, Hooves with Heart Director; and Bob Erwin, PDD, Bradenton #1511.
Manasota Elks Lodge #2734 used the Florida State Elks Association’s matching Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant funds to purchase school supplies on Abel Elementary School’s wish list and delivered them April 8. The school sent the following thank you letter May 3.
In the delivery picture are Mary Lauderdale, fifth grade teacher, front; Spike Klocke, lodge grant coordinator, middle; and Diane Davis, lodge four-year trustee; Ken Davis, PDD, Esquire; Liz Gardini, fifth grade co-teacher; and Jim Klocke, lodge two-year trustee. Also pictured with the supplies are Jennifer Moore, assistant principal; and Bryan Baker, student support specialist.
Abel Elementary would like to extend their sincere gratitude for everything you have done for our students and staff members. Your consistent support for the past two years has been a wonderful addition to our Abel family of eagles.
You have provided our school with countless supplies, offered our students opportunities to meet Santa, given our students a chance to participate in writing contests, and provided our team with a wonderful, kind foundation of support.
It is groups like the Elks lodge that make it possible for us as a Title 1 school to continuously support our students and we cannot thank you enough!
We look forward to our continued partnership and want you to know that the Elks Lodge of Manasota will forever be a part of our Abel Eagle Family.
Thank you for all you do!
On June 17, Lakewood Ranch-Sarasota Lodge donated $500 to the Easter Seals Happiness House in Sarasota, Florida. Their program assists children with disabilities so they can have more access, opportunities and life choices.
Pictured are Faith Frost, Leading Knight (middle) and her two great grandsons presenting the check to Miss Jody and Miss Courtney, two of the program directors.
On June 12, Lakewood Ranch-Sarasota Lodge invited the Manatee High School JROTC to present the varied historical flags during the lodge’s annual Flag Day ceremony. In appreciation, the lodge donated $250 to their program.
Pictured are members of the JROTC and several lodge officers and Americanism committee members.
Alexis Robbins, a member of Sarasota South Elks Lodge #2495, has been the volunteer community coordinator of the Sarasota Healthy Kids Running Series (HKRS) since early 2019. This program engages communities and families by providing an inclusive youth running experience, inspiring kids to believe in themselves and lead an active healthy lifestyle. HKRS was created by Jeff Long, founder and president of Pattison Sports Group, to motivate kids to lead a healthy and active lifestyle through a positive introduction to the world of running. To combat increasing rates of childhood obesity in America, he designed a running program that provides a fun environment and builds self-esteem. HKRS is a national, community-based nonprofit program that provides a fun, inclusive five-week running series in the fall and spring for ages 2-14 to get active, feel accomplished and lay the foundation for a healthy lifestyle. Races include a 50-yard dash for 2- and 3-year-olds, a 75-yard dash for 4- and 5-year-olds, a 1/4 mile for kindergarteners and first graders, a 1/2 mile for second and third graders, and a mile for fourth through eighth graders. There is also a 75-yard dash, an inclusive race for children with special needs. The fall series begins Sept. 11 and takes place at 3:45 p.m. Sundays in Payne Park. At each event, Robbins shares information about the Elks Drug Awareness Education program, Hoop Shoot and Soccer Shoot.