It’s hard to believe the holiday season is nearly upon us! November is Veterans Remembrance Month. As Elks we honor our veterans all year long. However, be sure to say a special thank you to those who have served and continue to serve our great country! As I write my fall article to you, we have finished five more district visits, seen the Brotherhood Ride depart Aug. 21 on their 22-day, 1,800+ mile trip to ground zero in New Your City. To have witnessed and been a part of the kickoff ceremony was amazing. Then to watch their journey unfold as they made it to ground zero Sept. 11 filled our hearts with patriotism and made us so proud to be Florida Elks! When you see PER Jeff and Candy Morse or any one of the many who rode their bikes or was one of the support staff, give them a big thank you for honoring our fallen heroes.
In July during our visit to the Southeast District with District Vice President Ed Morey Jr. and Elaine, we were a part of Jupiter Lodge’s 50th anniversary celebration and got to meet some local Little League players on Saturday. During our visit to the Southwest Central District with District Vice President Gordon Ellery Jr. and Amy Bovair, we took downtown Lake Placid’s mural tour. There are nearly 50 murals on the buildings downtown and each one depicts a piece of history of its culture or something about their famous citizens. In August we visited the South Southeast District, hosted by District Vice President Mike Sinneck and Eileen. We had a wonderful dinner at the new Pompano Beach Elks Lodge building, and on Saturday at Oakland Park Lodge we took part in a veterans’ project, stuffing survival kits for veterans experiencing homelessness.
As we headed into September, District Vice President Bart Peterson and Ellen made it possible for us to lay a wreath during a 9/11 20th anniversary ceremony during our visit to the East Central District in downtown Sanford, hosted by the City of Sanford. The wreath that Joey and I presented represented the military and the community that died during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Sanford Elks Lodge held a family fun day open house after the ceremony where they signed up six new members! The following weekend we were off to the West Central District, hosted by District Vice President Tom Moran and Cindy. On Saturday, we were enlightened with New Port Richey’s program they are involved with called Wreaths Across America. What an amazing program it is; check out your local area’s program and get involved. As each wreath is placed on the grave, that veteran’s name is called.
We attended the 58th annual Florida Ladies of Elks (FLOE) conference held in beautiful St. Augustine Beach, Florida. I would like to thank now-Past President of FLOE, Linda Rittenhouse, and her officers for a fantastic year raising funds for our kids of Florida. Congratulations to our new Florida Ladies of Elks President, Felicia Vuletich! We wish her and her officers much success in the coming year. There are many Ladies auxiliaries in our local lodges; they along with FLOE do so much for the kids of Florida. Did you know they have donated over $1.5 million over the past 58 years? That equates to just over an average of $25,000 a year, not to mention all the countless hours they donate to helping our local lodges. Plus, the ladies fill wish list items for our Florida Elks Youth Camp Director, Nick Miller, PDD, such as bedding, dishes, games and other fun stuff for the summer camp program. FLOE encourages any wife, widow of an Elk, or a Lady Elk member to become a member of a Ladies organization and join them in their good works. For more information on how to get involved with a local Ladies group, or start a new one, email Felicia Vuletich at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
I want to pause for a moment and say thank you to all our new Harry-Anna Trust Fund sustaining donors for our major projects! The word is getting out and many are signing up to be a monthly recurring donor to help the kids of Florida. It is so easy to sign up for a $19 per month donation, which automatically comes out of your checking account or is charged to your credit card. Of course, it is tax deductible, and for only $19 a month, $228 a year, or 63 cents a day, that sends a kid to camp or helps a child with much needed therapy. Sign up today at floridaelks.org to be a Harry-Anna Trust Fund sustaining donor!
Membership…Membership…Membership! My favorite topic! Our state membership numbers are strong, but we can’t let off the gas pedal. Let’s be sure to get calling teams together to reach out to our members who are past due and let them know that just by being an Elk, they are making a difference! Membership is truly the lifeline of our great order. Let’s all continue to work together as a team to get Florida back onto a growth pattern.
Remember my State President’s challenge for all of us to sponsor at least one new member or invite someone back who dropped their membership.
Together as a team, we can do it, as Teamwork Makes Elkdom Shine.
May God bless the USA, veterans, first responders, our great order, and all of you, Florida Elks!
On behalf of Joey and myself, we wish you all a happy, healthy holiday season.
Susan "Suzi" Simonelli
State President, 2021-2022
Florida State Elks Association
“Teamwork Makes Elkdom Shine”