For years, the Hillsboro Elks have helped the Family Justice Center with its mission to break the cycle of family violence. The Center moves individuals who have experienced domestic violence from temporary housing to more permanent living situations. Household items like cleaning supplies, appliances, and furniture need to be purchased, transported and assembled.
When the pandemic hit, two Hillsboro Elks, Pam Bohling and Michelle Bassett, jumped into action so that the Center's mission could continue, despite many obstacles.
Suppliers had closed their doors due to safety concerns, leaving the Domestic Violence Resource Center, operated by the Family Justice Center, without valuable resources. Knowing that the Elks are a reliable partner, the DVRC contacted the Hillsboro Lodge to see if they could help.
“Of course, we said yes,” says Bohling, who is the Lodge’s Grants Coordinator. “Any time they ask if we can help, we say, ‘we’ll find a way.’”
Still, the DVRC shut down briefly, which meant clients had to sleep in motel rooms and outsiders were unable to do their usual renovation work. The Center came to rely on the Hillsboro Lodge more than ever; with the Lodge’s normal activities curtailed, there was room to store materials for the DVRC.
Naturally, word spread among members.
“People found out what we were doing and started donating,” says Bassett. “The Elks network is huge. The Lodge was instrumental in the whole process.”
The Hillsboro Elks stepped up to the challenge, but the pandemic continued to exacerbate issues like hunger, homelessness and domestic violence. While helping the DVRC amid pandemic restrictions, Bohling and Bassett realized the need in their community was growing in other ways.
As the two members explored how they could help those experiencing homelessness, food insecurity and other needs, they started the process of registering as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
Before long, the organization had a name, born from a common question asked by Bohling, Bassett, and their fellow Elks: How Can We Help.
The answer has been to make resources available to those struggling in the community, a mission that is familiar to the Elks Lodge.
This year, the Hillsboro Lodge is using three CIP grants to help its neighbors in need. Using its Gratitude Grant funds, the Lodge is purchasing items for Project Homeless Connect and Greater Good, two agencies that serve individuals experiencing homelessness. Its Spotlight Grant supports Rebuilding Together Washington County, which helps homeowners who are unable to afford or perform home repairs prepare their homes for the winter.
With its Beacon Grant, the Hillsboro Lodge is continuing its relationship with the DVRC, using the grant to purchase beds, bedframes, and other materials to turn houses into homes.
How Can We Help developed from the charitable work of the Hillsboro Elks, and Bassett hopes it will inspire other Lodges.
“I never dreamed we’d be where we are—our storage unit is so full you can hardly move in it sometimes,” Bassett says. “My advice to other Elks would be: if you have a passion, go see how you can help.”
Lodge grant applications are open through January 17, 2023. For more information on our available grants and their guidelines, check out our Grant Toolkits. If you have any questions about grant projects, the CIP can be reached at 773/755-4730 or LodgeGrants@elks.org.