Greetings, Florida Elks.
During our demonstration at the state convention, there were photos of family – our personal family and our Elks family. Some of you belong to both families. Family bonds are rooted deep in Dolly’s and my hearts. As we visit you throughout the state, we look forward to getting to know you better as the lines between our personal family and our Elks family blend to become one.
We are living in unprecedented times. The coronavirus, protests and riots are changing the face of our nation. For many years, our members and lodges have paid it forward by donating their time, talents and money supporting our many projects and community charities. It is the intent of our team to do what is necessary to help Florida Elks rebound and come back strong. How? During Officer Training, your District Vice Presidents; your VPAL, Suzi Simonelli; and I met and put together a culture statement on how we were going to lead you in having a successful year. We made a pledge and ask you to hold each of us responsible to live it. We invite you to review it and live it with us.
We as FSEA District Vice Presidents are Successful because WE:
– Know it’s amazing what you can accomplish when you don’t worry about who gets the credit.
– Communicate effectively and frequently.
– Have fun.
– Never forget to say thank you.
– Continue to give praise and show appreciation.
– Always remember we represent the Elks and our actions speak volumes.
– Work together as a TEAM – Together Everyone Accomplishes More.
– Accept constructive criticism and are willing to change.
– We promptly make amends and move on when wrong.
– Stay on task, we keep calm and we move forward.
– Delegate, trust and advise.
– Are innovative and provide good leadership.
– Lead by example being “Warm, Friendly and Active.”
We ask you to hold us accountable to walk the talk and to do what we say we will do in adhering to our District Vice President culture. Your leaders are human; we will make mistakes. It is how we respond and recover from our errors that means much.
Our members living our 2020-2021 motto of “Florida Elks – Warm, Friendly and Active” is key to helping our lodges rebound. I am asking you to help me by ensuring your individual lodges are warm so members will see their local lodge as their second home. Our lodges should be friendly and hospitable to all of our members and guests. Last, an active lodge full of life providing social and service opportunities is key. This tripod of warm, friendly and active lodges will result in happy members and guests wanting to join.
The BPOE has a storied history that Elks are and should be proud. Having said that, our nation and our world is constantly evolving and changing. “If you do what you’ve always done, you are going to get what you’ve always got” is a true idiom. If Florida Elks are going to continue to grow and be a light of good in our state, I believe we must not stand still relying just on past practices to help us move forward. We must challenge ourselves to take measured risks for the growth of our order.
Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes advised, “To reach a port, we must sail, sometimes with the wind, sometimes against it. But we must not drift or lie at anchor.” Strong leaders are not happy with the status quo. I am asking you to join with us to be focused on moving forward, manning the sails, righting the wrongs and helping make the best better by adopting the following action items.
- Renew and live each principle we swore to adhere to when taking our Elk obligation.
- Encourage and help our lodges provide a welcome, friendly and warm environment that all of our members consider their second home.
- Promote growth of our order by recruitment and retention of quality members willing to share their time, talent and treasure benefiting our major projects and other programs.
- Be proactive supporting our vision of being prominent service providers fostering care and treatment of children with autism while continuing to support our major projects, scholarships, Historical Programs, veterans and other charities.
- Apply strong business acumen when selecting individuals as committee chairs and lodge officers.
- Be willing to mentor, coach, hold accountable, and, when needed, remove individuals who are not fulfilling the responsibilities of their respective office. The best legacy of a strong leader is to have the person following in their footsteps do even better.
- Praise, recognize and show gratitude to individuals, lodges and districts for a job well done.
Last year during visitations supporting Tom and Joyce Ludwick, I learned much from listening to you. As a result, this year when visiting our districts, my preference is to see resources spent on helping lodges recover from COVID-19, assisting Elks in action and/or doing what we do best – Elks charitable works.
Harry-Anna Trust Fund Chair, Theresa Seibert; Vice Chair, Dayna Miller; and Development Director, Dan Masi, are holding fast to what is good while changing their fundraising strategies keeping in mind the financial impact the coronavirus is having on our members and our lodges. You will see a major emphasis on enrolling sustaining donors. Elks donating a little monthly will yield great results. Just 3,089 additional members donating $19 a month would achieve our Harry-Anna fundraising goal and take the burden off the lodges. Many of you have sent cards, letters and phone calls asking what you can do to help me. The best help you can give is to continue to pray for us and to become a sustaining donor as it will take away much stress.
We will build on Past National President Mike Smith’s vision of Elks being “Loud, Proud & Visible,” enhancing our impact and image inside and outside our lodges by promoting our good works and fun events. Florida Elks viewed by the public as paying it forward while having fun social activities will attract outside donations and recruit members for our organization.
Traveling around our 14 districts, I see much good that makes me proud to be an Elk. I also see lodges being decimated by bickering and infighting. Frequently, members are not willing to forgive and forget for the good of the lodge. This should not make any of us proud. If we are to grow and move forward, I will be reminding our members that we must be willing to change our attitudes. We must be willing to make amends and to ask for and give forgiveness.
Winston Churchill stated, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; the optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” I am asking you to adopt a positive, make-it-happen attitude. This change begins with me. My commitment to you as your President is to do my best to practice what I ask of our members. Change does not mean forgetting those who made sacrifices laying the foundation for Elkdom. It does mean being flexible enough to take the necessary steps needed for Florida Elks to not just survive but to move forward and thrive!
President Theodore Roosevelt gave a speech and I share my favorite quote from it. It is entitled “Man in the Arena” but I have adapted it to “Elk in the Arena.”
“It is not the critic who counts; not the bar stool barrister who points out how lodge and other Elk leaders stumble, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the Elk who is active in our order, whose face is marred by dust and sweat from volunteering time and again; who strives valiantly to pay it forward; who errs, who comes short again and again, but never gives up because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but the Elk who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself or herself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he or she fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his or her place shall never be with those cold and timid Elks who don’t step up for the betterment of our order. They know neither victory nor defeat. I ask you to join with me to be the Elk in the arena serving without hesitation and taking risks to try something new for the good of our order as we pay it forward to those who need us and those who may not know they need what we have to offer.”
Please join me in adopting our motto, “Florida Elks – Warm, Friendly and Active,” inside and outside our lodges, in words and actions toward one another, in our communities, and throughout the boundaries of our order.
Dolly, Suzi, Joey and I very much appreciate the opportunity to represent Florida Elks. We look forward to seeing and sharing with everyone in our travels! Thank you! May God smile upon and bless our Florida State Elks Association!
Rudy J. Masi, Sr., PDD
Florida State Elks Association