When organizations stand the test of time, it proves that their purpose and message is a much needed one, and one to count on. Just over 150 years ago, in the Theater district of New York City, Comedians and Actors formed The Elks.
These actors and comedians would get together on weekends to be a club and socialize together. When some of the wives of this club were left without their husband, they were also left with nothing. The Elks were given a Chapter and charities were formed to help these wives. They became a Benevolent Protective Order. This traversed not only time, but geography as well. In our very own Oakland Park, we have had The Elks Lodge #2407 for the past 40 years. Once, being in the North Fort Lauderdale area, the #2407 Elks now sits in 240 W Prospect Rd, Oakland Park, FL 33309.
The Elks are very community driven. In fact, they not only need the community to thrive though memberships and attendance, but they want very much to help the community. The Elks are driven to provide where the needs are the greatest. It is hard to know where to start in sharing the many charitable events provided to the community. Some of The Elks’ main focus are veterans and children. Through the Elk National Foundation, the Oakland Park Lodge has provided over 300 survival packs for homeless veterans.
The Oakland Park Lodge was the first chapter to receive a grant of $10 thousand dollars that is very difficult to attain. Through such grants, the Elks can provide to the vets and are able to host special events such as resource fairs for Vietnam Vets. These fairs provide the vets the opportunity to be paired up with job training, housing, therapy, and emergency services. Hopefully during Stage 2 of reopening and recovery from COVID-19, the Elks hope to host an outdoor event with the Townhall and Oakland Park’s Vice Mayor, Jane Bolin. Vice Mayor Bolin is also a member of The Elks Lodge.
Schools, teachers, and parents have benefited as the Elks have used grants and monies to provide for students’ needs. Promoting literacy in schools is of great importance to The Elks. Thanks to The Beacon Grant, The Elks were able to donate packs of books to three local schools: Oakland Park Elementary, Lloyd Estates, and North Andrews Gardens Elementary. About 80 packs were distributed.
Last year there was an unrestricted number of resources for teacher and parents, and the schools themselves. But sadly, because of coronavirus, this year there will be more limitations and this grant will be limited to teachers. However, The Elks will not stop in trying to provide to children.
Through the Harry Anna Trust Fund, many children can experience beautiful campgrounds in Umatilla, Florida. Harry and Anna Miller were themselves Elk members and loved to work with children. Umatilla is located north of Orlando as houses a campground where children can go for a fully immersed experience in the Summer. The campgrounds offer camping, crafts, boating, and archery for a 2-week experience. The camp has a “no electronics allowed” policy so the children can fully enjoy their camping stay.
Another added benefit that comes from the Harry Anna fund is that The Elks have been able to provide 28 occupational therapists within Florida that The Elks employ. Some of these occupational therapists will come to the home of their client to teach parents what to do and how to follow through with exercise and technique.
Other great projects by The Elks are hosting Hoop Shoot, Drug Awareness programs, providing High School Scholarships, and sponsorships to The Boy and Girl Scouts. Hoop Shoots sounds like a cool opportunity for the younger community. It is a free throw contest for children in different age brackets and by levels based on how many shots made and with the possibility of getting their name in the Basketball Hall of Fame.
The Elks are highly involved in drug awareness and programs. The Elks also take pride in working with The Spotlight Grant. Last year, 50 bags were donated for Child Net to children in foster care. With the money from this grant, The Elks also provide food, clothing, and diapers for women and men in distress. They make sure these people are in a secure home and protect mothers and children in domestic abuse situation. A fun fact about The Elks is they are the only organization to observe and celebrate Flag Day in June starting with the very first flag, to the flag we know now, and even the POW flag. Observation of Flag Day started back in 1907 and teaches a comprehensive history of our flag.
COVID-19 strikes another organization. The Elks have maintained all regulations keeping 6 feet apart and 50% capacity. However, because of coronavirus fear, attendance has been significantly low. Members are afraid to come out to events. With low attendance, the Lodge is not growing fast enough to meet the demands of cost within the community. Doug Satran, the Lodge’s Exalted Ruler, or President says, “Come join us and be a part of the solution”. He is referring to being part of the Elk Lodge community. In order to help the greater community, membership must grow. They also hope to gain member with fresh new ideas. The Activities Committee is always looking for new ideas that they can use to reach out to the community and those in need.
At $125 membership for the year, a member is entitled to use their membership card in any Elks lodge nationwide, in Hawaii, and even in Guam! One can also rent the Hall for events like weddings, and private parties. The prices differ for member and nonmembers and First Responders. Kim Sullivan, Past Exalted Ruler and current Advisor to the Lodge, says, “We are brothers and sisters in Elkdom”.
New members are wanted and welcome. With new generations of members, The Elks hope to continue the work of existing and past members. New, fresh, and unique ideas are welcome. One of the hopes The Elks has for upcoming events is to host monthly Ethnic dinners. They already host Saturday Lunches and Sunday Breakfast for members and their guests. On Wednesdays, they host Paint Stick Bingo. The Elks focus is children and Veterans, but they also want to consider Black Lives Matter, the LGTBQ Community, and Women’s rights. Before Covid, they had a very successful event with the performers from Lips which packed the house! All ideas are embraced.
Come join The Elks, buy a membership, and join them in the amazing outreach work they do for the community. Doug says, “We are in need of new members who are more attuned to the needs of today’s society”. And you can be a part of it, right here, in Oakland Park!
Click here to contact Oakland Park’s Elks Lodge and become a member today!
Anamaria Moreno is an Elementary school teacher. Born in Costa Rica, but mostly raised in Venezuela, Ms. Moreno came to South Florida in 1996 where she has resided ever since. She graduated from Lynn University, with a degree in Early Childhood Education. She has taught in the classroom for 18 years, most recently teaching the first grade for the past seven years. Before becoming a teacher, Ms. Moreno was involved in volunteer work with the Child Life Specialists Department at Miami Children’s Hospital. She also served as member of the Board of Directors for “A Caring Pregnancy Center” in Miami. Most recently, Ms. Moreno has taught at an elementary school in Oakland Park. Ms. Moreno also teaches ESOL to Adults in Night School. When Ms. Moreno is not in the classroom, she enjoys baking custom specialty cakes, face painting, and enjoys creating Arts and Crafts.