When the Elks of the Skowhegan-Madison Lodge see ENF Chairman Maroon Nemer marching into their lodge, they clutch their pockets and shout, “Hide your wallets he’s here.” Last year Maroon’s persistence motivated his lodge to raise a per-capita of $31.017, the highest in Maine. He anticipates another momentous year and says that competing for the lead in Maine inspires other lodges in the state to increase their donations to the Foundation. “It used to be a big deal just to make $3.50 per-capita but now other lodges are following our lead and are always out to get us,” Maroon says. Encouraging members to give presented a challenge for Maroon but he discovered a few successful methods. At his lodge he posted the names of every member and when they donated $10 they received a star sticker next to their name. Every year he hosted a fundraising banquet where any member who donated $100 or more could attend for free. During the event he would enliven the crowd with accounts of the Foundation’s accomplishments and then he requested donations. He once raised over $5,500 in 20 minutes. Being a Chairman means more to Maroon than celebrated triumph. Maroon joined the Elks in 1958 and has served as ENF Chairman for 29 years as well as completing terms as Exalted Ruler, District Deputy and Lodge Secretary. As a young boy Maroon was diagnosed with polio and is now suffering from post-polio syndrome causing him to retire from his role as lodge Chairman. “Working with the Foundation has changed my life. I needed help as a youngster and now I can give back,” he says. Maroon believes that all of the Foundation’s programs are significant but says he is particularly proud of the Hoop Shoot, Veterans and Scholarship programs. “I see kids who accept the scholarships and praise the Elks and I get tears in my eyes,” he says, explaining the gratification he feels when hearing about Elks scholarship recipients. Although Maroon will no longer have to endure teasing from members that they could’ve retired years ago had it not been for his commitment to the Foundation, his enthusiasm for giving will continue to affect everyone he encounters.
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