Spotlight on the Spotlight Grant: Stand Up for the Stand Down

In late September, Middletown, N.Y., Lodge No. 1097 used their Spotlight Grant to plan, develop and host their very own Stand Down for veterans experiencing and at-risk for homelessness in their community. To get this event off the ground, the Lodge secured more than 20 booths of goods, services, information, and counselling for veterans in need throughout the day-long event.

The day started off with Middletown Elks marching to the beat of the drums from the local ROTC, which provided music during a special Presentation of Colors to launch the day with a patriotic flair. Once the ceremony was complete, the Elks supplied each veteran with a reusable grocery bag filled with toiletries, food, and a veteran’s crisis phone number stitched into the side, as well as information about vendors at the event.

As for the vendors themselves, the Lodge vetted businesses in their community to secure dentists, barbers, mental health counselors, housing specialists, and more to provide veterans with the wealth of information, resources and services they needed. The Lodge went as far as to have a separate station for female veterans who attended to supply them with necessary sanitary items, toiletries and clothing.

When one veteran came with his three children, Elks quickly sprang to action to assemble a kids table with drug awareness coloring books and crayons to entertain the children while assisting their father.

All in all, the Middletown Elks went above and beyond with the Stand Down project through the Spotlight Grant. More than 50 members volunteered for the event, and all the boots on the ground affect the lives of the 68 veterans who attended.

Grants Coordinator Kim Mahoney said this project was the biggest event the Lodge has ever produced. “It really put us on the map in our community,” Mahoney said—so much so that the Middletown Lodge gained three members as a direct result of this project!

To put on your own Stand Down and help eradicate veterans’ homelessness in your community, please apply for the new Spotlight Grant! Consider combining it with a Beacon and/or Gratitude Grant to supersize your impact. Soldier on and apply today!

Through Spotlight Grants, the Elks National Foundation provides Lodges with seven different project plans to shine a light on two important issues facing nearly every American community—family literacy and homelessness among our nation’s veterans. These $2,000 grants are available to all Lodges. To find out more about Spotlight Grants and the Community Investments Program, visit enf.elks.org/SpotlightGrant.


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