We have made so many positive strides in our order this past year. We all should be very proud that the preliminary year-end membership figures reflect our great state at a gain! The final adjusted numbers will be available the beginning of June. Congratulations, Florida State Elks Association. The state and lodges have the momentum to excel to even greater achievements during the year to come and I want to welcome and challenge our newly elected officers to raise the benchmark and exceed expectations. Congratulations go to our new State President, Rudy Masi, and his wife, Dolly, and to our new Vice President at Large, Suzi Simonelli, and her husband, Joey. What a team! We can achieve all goals if we stay focused and implement plans to achieve. Our state and national membership is soaring to new limits and we will continue to grow. We will continue to serve our communities, veterans and youth. What a fabulous opportunity we have as Elks!
We recently completed our officer training seminar with outstanding attendance in spite of the coronavirus threat. We all need to be smart and safe until we have a good solution to the issue. For those who did attend, I heard nothing but praise for the seminar and staff. Thank you, Carl Seibert and staff, for the unlimited amount of support you provide our association.
Our Florida Elks Youth Camp continues to improve in all aspects. We hosted 2,333 children during our summer camp. We have seen many improvements in our facility and have continuing plans to improve. Nick Miller, Camp Director, and his staff are highly skilled to provide maximum enjoyment to our campers. Thank you, Nick and staff.
Our Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services led by Colleen Gallant, Director, and her staff continue to serve and grow. We are now treating approximately 540 children per week. We have 28 therapists and are planning to add two more in the very near future. Thank you, Colleen and staff.
The Smith Conference Center is fast-tracking as far as hosting corporate groups and other organizations for retreats and team building. Shannan Wilburn is constantly marketing the center. We hosted 42 groups this past year and look to see that number increase sharply once the renovations are complete in May 2020. If you or someone you know has business retreats or organizations who have retreats, give Shannan a call or email.
Most of our lodges are being “Loud, Proud and Visible” with the assistance of our marketing manager and website administrator, Laz Suarez. Laz was instrumental in getting the lodges the outdoor banners highlighting your community service donations. Thank you, Laz, and keep marketing.
We have lots of opportunities starting off the new lodge year. The Florida State Elks golf tournament was postponed to May 30-31 due to COVID-19. Check out the information and registration form on the state website. Our state convention at the beautiful Rosen Resort and Conference Center is rescheduled for June 18-20. Our national convention is scheduled for July 5-8 in Baltimore, a vibrant city with lots to do. The Florida hotel is on the Inner Harbor with water taxis, shops, restaurants and pubs. Our second annual Unmasking Autism gala is rescheduled for Oct. 17 due to the coronavirus. It is really an elegant and entertaining evening with an incredible purpose.
Speaking of “Loud, Proud and Visible,” thank you, Rachael King, Florida Elks Magazine editor, for making our publication the best in the order.
Bob Grafton and I thank you all for what you do for our order. Please be safe and stay healthy as we navigate through COVID-19.
Michael F. Smith, PNP
Florida State Elks Association