Last year’s summer article featured many exciting things that happened at our national convention. The national convention was cancelled this year due to the coronavirus. On an upside, the next scheduled Elks national convention is in Tampa, Florida, with the theme of “A Sunshine State of Mind.”
The Florida State Elks did hold a state convention in mid-June at the Rosen Centre in Orlando, Florida. Our State Secretary and COO, Carl Seibert, and his talented staff hosted an excellent convention. It certainly had some changes that were unique due to the concern of the virus –masking, social distancing and limited hospitality rooms – and yet it appeared that everyone enjoyed themselves. We installed our new state officers, including Rudy Masi, as our new State President, and his wife, Dolly, presented him with the state president’s pin. Suzi Simonelli was elected as Vice President at Large and was accompanied by her husband, Joey. “Past State President” Tom Ludwick presided over the convention and he and Joyce were congratulated by the members present for an outstanding year of service to the Florida State Elks Association. Another change we experienced was the District Deputy Grand Exalted Ruler designates were installed by me since we had no national convention. During our memorial service, we witnessed eulogies for Past State President Thomas Ryan and Past National President and State Co-Sponsor, C. Valentine Bates. We were honored to have Claudia Bates attend the service.
The coronavirus has affected all of our lives to some degree and has required many adjustments. Nick Miller, Florida Elks Youth Camp Director, and his staff had to cancel our summer youth camp for safety reasons which impacted many young children who had made plans for camp. It had a negative impact on the camp counselors who had planned to work. Colleen Gallant, Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services Director, and her staff had to discontinue house calls to treat the children. They had to adapt and accept virtual therapy treatments for safety reasons. The Florida State Elks Association office staff had to work from their homes while the shutdown was in force. As we continue to monitor we will continue to adapt.
The newly installed District Deputies from Florida, Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi came to our camp for an intense training weekend on their duties and additional training on the financial reporting system which all lodges are mandated to implement. The two main instructors for this event were Mark Thompson, DDGER Trainer, and Carl Gerace, Area 3 Grand Lodge Auditing and Accounting member. This training is usually held at the national convention.
PNP Bob Grafton, Co-Sponsor and I, along with Sandra, hope all of you and your families are well and continue to stay safe and healthy. Be Loud, Proud and Visible!
Michael F. Smith, PNP
Florida State Elks Association