Wow, the positive energy that is coming out of our state convention is exciting and is building across the state, and I feel it continuing right through the year! The teamwork has begun, as “Teamwork Makes Elkdom Shine,” my motto this year. As I write this, we have just returned from the 156th Grand Lodge convention in Tampa, Florida. A highlight for me as your State President was to carry our Florida state flag across the stage during the opening ceremonies with Rudy Masi Sr., Past State President. With the national convention being canceled last summer, he and the other state presidents did not get a chance to walk with their flags, so this year, the Grand Lodge made it possible for us to walk together as a team. This was a proud moment for all of Florida Elkdom! The Florida convention committee and the host volunteers along with our COO/State Secretary, Carl Seibert, and his wife, PDD Theresa, and the remarkable Florida State Elks Association staff are to be commended for their efforts for a job well done in organizing this successful convention.
Joey and I have visited the three neighboring state conventions of Georgia, Mississippi and Alabama, making new friends and learning about their state major projects. We have also visited the Central District, with District Vice President Brian Estus and his wife, Kris, and the Southwest District, with District Vice President Darrin Simone Sr., and his wife, Deborah. We had a wonderful time visiting these two districts and seeing the good works they are doing in helping to promote our programs and state major projects and in growing our membership!
Speaking of membership, please accept my State President’s challenge to sponsor at least one new member or to invite someone back who has dropped their membership. Growing our membership here in Florida is my focus as your State President. When our membership is growing, everything else will fall into place. Lodge revenues will go up and we will have more volunteers, more attendees at lodge functions and more prospective lodge officers. Anytime you have a lodge function, get on your microphone and welcome everyone, and talk about membership! Most of the time, people say nobody “asked” them to join. Plus, we need to call our lapsed members and encourage them to renew their membership in our great order. Let them know that just by being an Elk, they are helping to make a difference, as many are counting on us for help — our communities, youth, veterans and first responders.
Here is what will make the membership in your lodge grow:
1 – Strengthen your youth programs – Your Membership will GROW!
2 – Be active in your community – Your Membership will GROW!
3 – Host well-planned lodge activities – Your Membership will GROW!
4 – Maintain an active Veterans program in your lodge – Your Membership will GROW!
5 – Have an active Lapsation Committee making those calls – Your Membership will GROW!
6 – Publicize your charitable works – Your Membership will GROW!
7 – If you have an ACTIVE MEMBERSHIP Committee in your lodge – Your Membership will GROW!
Thank you in advance for accepting my State President’s challenge to help us grow Florida Elkdom by sponsoring a new member or inviting someone back!
If you have a program that is working in growing your membership, please share it with our State Membership Chair, Rick Wright, PER (firstname.lastname@example.org), and me (email@example.com) so he can share it with his state committee team. Thank you!
Let us also continue to increase our Harry-Anna Trust Fund monthly sustaining donors! Your State Chair for the Harry-Anna Trust Fund, Dayna Miller, PER, from Gainesville Lodge #990, is traveling with us this year to promote our sustaining donor program. It is a great way to support the kids of Florida with signing up for a $19 per month donation, which automatically comes out of your checking account or is charged to your credit card. It is tax-deductible, and $19 a month/$228 a year sends a kid to camp or helps a child with much-needed therapy. We now have 30 therapists on the road treating over 500 kids a week. We are also excited that our 2021 summer camp is in full swing.
Joey and l had the opportunity to go up to camp for one night to see camp in action as your State President and First Gentleman. There were nearly 250 campers enjoying the second two-week session! Assistant Camp Director, Krys Ragland, took us around and we met campers from all over. They were playing games, swimming in the pool and climbing the ropes course! Perhaps the highlight of our visit was seeing them lower the flag, and then we attended the raising of the American flag in the morning. It was amazing to see all these campers give reverence and respect to our flag. Thank you, all, in advance for continuing to support the Harry-Anna Trust Fund!
Remember, the best way to keep up to date with all the happenings around the state is to visit the Florida Elks website at floridaelks.org. You will get information on our state events along with reservation information for them. Coming in August is the new Cornhole for Kids event! Check it out. Sign up to come to camp and have some fun!
Joey and I also wish the Brotherhood Ride a safe journey as they make their 23-day trip to New York City from Naples, Florida. We will be attending their kickoff ceremony in August and will watch them take off on their journey. Godspeed to these fine first responders and the support staff volunteers who are traveling with them as they travel to pay their respects to fallen heroes.
We have a lot of work to do this year as Florida Elks, but working together as a team, we can accomplish much, as “Teamwork Makes Elkdom Shine.”
May God bless the USA, our veterans, first responders, our great order, and all of you, Florida Elks!
Again, thank you, all.
Susan "Suzi" Simonelli
State President, 2021-2022
Florida State Elks Association
“Teamwork Makes Elkdom Shine”