State President's Message
- Written by Frank Malatesta
It is very hard to believe that our year is almost over! Sally and I have enjoyed traveling around our great state to see all the wonderful things our lodges are doing for our children, veterans and the communities.
Since our last message we traveled to the North Central District where our hosts were DVP Bill Hall and Nancy. Dinner Friday evening at Winter Garden lodge was wonderful and the hospitality was great. Saturday we had an interesting and enjoyable tour of the Lakeside Winery and a delicious lunch at South Lake Lodge. The dinner Saturday at Eustis Lodge was outstanding and the decorations were awesome.
Next we had the privilege of attending the Alabama Elks Association winter meeting and helping them welcome GER Michael Luhr and Barbara. We had a tremendous weekend and enjoyed the hospitality of great Elks.
Our next visit was to the Northeast District where we were hosted by DVP Phyllis Bonser. Friday evening we enjoyed a fabulous meal at Green Cove Springs Lodge. After a terrific breakfast at Jacksonville Lodge, we helped pack snacks for our deployed troops. Then we had a very interesting and informative tour of Safariland, a U.S. company that makes body protection for the military and first responders. We were also provided a delicious lunch at Safariland. Saturday night we enjoyed the hospitality and delicious dinner at Orange Park Lodge.
We kicked off the February state quarterly meeting with a group of dignitaries welcoming GER Mike and Barbara Luhr at the Jacksonville airport. We toured the city of St. Augustine before we arrived at the camp for a great Florida reception. The attendees at the quarterly enjoyed visiting with Barbara Luhr at the Friday lunch and with Mike and Barbara that evening. Re-Creation presented a fabulous program! They are an outstanding group traveling to engage Elks everywhere. Mike’s keynote address was inspiring.
The next weekend, Sally and I were privileged to attend the state Hoop Shoot in Umatilla, Fla. It was my honor to present the winners with their trophies, ribbons and my pin to each of the participants. Thank you, Eric Johnson, for chairing a great contest.
Our next stop was to the North District where we were hosted by Susan and Mike Lynn. Friday night we had a wonderful dinner at Perry Lodge. After breakfast we toured the Big Top Structures, another U.S. company that sends its products all over the world. We then went to the Veterans Memorial Park in downtown Taylor County. Before going to Perry Lodge for a lasagna lunch, we visited the Historical Society of Taylor County and heard more about the city of Perry and Taylor County. Perry Lodge hosted dinner and a lua, and the decorations were fantastic. The officers, members and volunteers did a super job of entertaining us all weekend.
Next we visited the Georgia Elks Association midwinter meeting in Savannah, Ga. After breakfast on Friday we toured the Bethesda Orphan House and Academy, the Wormsloe Estate and the Pin Point Heritage Museum. Savannah Lodge hosted delicious meals all weekend. The Saturday evening banquet gave us an opportunity to meet and greet many Georgia Elks. Our many thanks go to the officers and members of the Georgia Elks Association for a wonderful weekend.
Our final visit was our homecoming to the Southwest District. Our sincere thanks go to DVP Joe and Allie Cooper for executing a fabulous weekend. The dinner Friday night at Venice-Nokomis Lodge was awesome. Saturday we took a tour of the Southeastern Guide Dog facility. The changes that have been made since our last visit are unbelievable. South Hillsborough Lodge hosted a wonderful lunch. The welcome on Saturday night at the Lakewood Ranch-Sarasota lodge was spectacular! The friendly faces of so many friends and the baseball decorations were awesome. The dinner and efforts of so many were terrific. It was indeed great to have such a memorable homecoming.
It was an honor and a privilege to participate in the institution of a new lodge in Florida. East Polk Lodge #2882 was instituted March 24, 2019, in the Southwest Central District. The officers and members are committed and enthusiastic about their new roles and will be a great addition to the Florida State Elks Association. They will grow and prosper! With the addition of this new lodge and the help of all the lodges in Florida, we will have a membership gain of 456 new members. This is quite an accomplishment! I thank all who made this lofty goal possible. Once again, we took the best and with a lot of effort we were able to Make the Best Better. Florida stands tall and proud!
Sally and I would like to thank all the lodges and members of our great Florida State Association and especially the Southwest District for the support shown to us this year. Special thanks go to the officers and members of Lakewood Ranch-Sarasota Lodge, our home lodge, for the cooperation and encouragement throughout this year.
Again, it is a privilege and honor to represent you as the president of the Florida State Elks Association. Thank you for your confidence and the kindness shown to us this year. Each of you indeed has demonstrated “Make the Best Better.”
May God bless our troops, the Florida State Elks Association and America.
Florida State Elks Association