My Journey Through Elkdom
When I first became involved in the Elks (The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks), I was a significant other of a member. We would go to Saturday night dances and attend Friday dinners. It was our date night choice of places to go. Nick became involved in Etna Lodge No. 932 as an officer and made his way through the various offices over the ensuing years. We started attending state and national conventions and workshops. On these various trips, I was entertained as an Elk's Lady.
The year Nick was to be installed as Exalted Ruler (President) we were married just before his installation. This didn't change my participation any and we continued to attend the various local and district meetings where I was entertained as an Elk's Lady. That year the organization took on a whole new perspective in that they voted to let women become Elk members. In the old days, women were not permitted to be Elks and at some Lodges they were not even admitted into the Lodge. This was a big social change and one that was not enthusiastically embraced. I personally did not want to rock the boat and stayed an Elk's Lady.
Nick and I continued to attend the various conventions and I enjoyed trips to Chicago, Las Vegas, New Orleans and other cities to attend the National Conventions. During this period, the Elk who did the bulletins for our Lodge decided to retire and I was asked if I wanted to do it since I had computer experience and the software needed. I took on the task and through much soul searching decided to tip the scales and become an Elk. My decision was mainly due to the fact that the Lodge was paying me for my time to do the bulletin and for my expenses and that it had always been an Elk who filled the position. There were no changes to my situation the year I became and Elk other than I started to attend Lodge meetings.
Youth Activities and Charities
I had become very familiar with the charitable and family oriented aspects of the organization over the past five or so years and totally believed in their platform of Community Service. My husband remained active and became involved in the Hoop Shoot which was a free throw contest for children ages 8-13. He would help the District Chairman with the organization of a trip the district would put together to State College where the State Shoot would be held every year.
Our state charity took on a new look during these initial years of my involvement. The name changed from The Cerebral Palsy Fund to Home Services which services families of developmentally challenged people throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This charity always had a place in my heart and during the ensuing years, I became involved in the charity at the district level.
My husband was involved in the national charity which we fondly call "The Great Heart of Elkdom." He was Lodge Chairman and he took this charity to heart. This charity sponsors the whole gambit of our Veteran and Youth Activity work. For every dollar that is donated on a state level, this charity (using only the interest and never the principal) gives back to the state funds to run their scholarship, veteran and youth activities.
The Officers in our Lodge were undergoing some changes and for one reason or another it was becoming harder and harder to keep good officers. I did a flip flop in my way of thinking and decided to take on the challenge of being an officer.
My years in the chairs have made me more community oriented and I have enjoyed my years as an officer of our local lodge. When it became my turn to be Esteemed Leading Knight, the elected Exalted Ruler, never served. I ended up running the meetings until the Lodge could elect another Exalted Ruler to fill that Lodge Year.
I can't say that I was any better or any worse as an Exalted Ruler trying to keep our Lodge together and functioning but through circumstances, I ended up filling the office of Exalted Ruler five times. I was not the first Lady Exalted Ruler in our organization but I can claim that stature in my accolades as a member of the Etna Elks. Sadly in my last year as Exalted Ruler, it became necessary to merge our local lodge with another but I am happy to report that we are flourishing with the added membership.
My trip through Elkdom is not finished but my service as an officer is definitely done. As I said earlier, I believe in all of the programs and benefits that the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks brings to our communities throughout the United States and I will continue to support the officers of Oakmont Lodge No. 1668 as I can.
For any of you community-minded readers out there, this is one organization you might want to become affiliated with. I can't recommend this more strongly.