Elks Provide for Patients
An extended hospital stay is always a challenging time. For disadvantaged populations, health problems can be compounded by other worries, like paying for care or the possibility of facing illness without familial support.

Elks Lodges recognize that some patients are more vulnerable than others when receiving treatment, and the Lodges use CIP grants to ensure their comfort and give them the best chance of getting back to what they love in life. Below are three Beacon Grant projects that show Elks are there to help people experiencing illness or injury in their communities.

Albuquerque, N.M., Lodge No. 461 uses its merged Beacon and Spotlight Grant to support people staying at two local Ronald McDonald Houses. These houses offer overnight accommodation for families whose children are undergoing treatment at area hospitals. The Lodge used its grant funding to cook meals and stock the houses with supplies and equipment, including new refrigerators.

Lodge members prepared meals for Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day, making enough for dinner and plenty of leftovers. While the Elks were not able to stay to serve and eat with the families, one family did arrive early; a young son whose birthday was approaching saw the Valentine’s Day cake and assumed it was for him—an idea that the volunteers were all too happy to oblige.

“We sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to him and all was well with our souls!” says Grants Coordinator Pat Shepardson.

Albion, N.Y., Lodge No. 1006 used a Beacon Grant to provide for a few of the needs facing hospitalized veterans. The Lodge planned to purchase comfortable sweatsuits for patients at the nearby V.A. hospital. In doing research, however, they learned that sweatsuits are not the best thing for all veterans—but that doesn’t mean that anyone was left behind. The Lodge coordinated with V.A. staff and the CIP office to change the project scope to focus on the needs and wants of the hospitalized veterans. Some veterans received sweatsuits, while others got comfy blankets and one Buffalo Bills superfan received a sign to hang in his room—which he proudly did.

“The veterans who live at the V.A. are among our greatest citizens, having put their lives on the line to protect us,” says Grants Coordinator April Flesch. “The Albion Lodge believes wholeheartedly that we should help them be comfortable and show them that Elks Care.”

Houma, La., Lodge No. 1193 served hospitalized children with its Beacon Grant. The Lodge partnered with Happy Gowns for Joyful Hearts, which sews festive hospital gowns for patients at pediatric hospitals. Elks who are part of the group purchased and organized fabrics before meeting for a sewing session.

“Members gladly joined in the selection of happy fabrics, winding hundreds of yards of material back onto bolts, shopping and storing materials, as well as assisting in the construction of gowns and other items,” says Grants Coordinator Donna Redmond.

There’s a gown for every occasion--Christmas, Halloween, Easter, and even gowns with cats, dogs and emojis! When the group distributes the items to the hospitals, teddy bears, quilts, hats, and pillowcases are also included.

“The project created harmony in working together to make the lives of critically-ill children a little bit brighter,” says Redmond. “A little bit of joy was brought to colorless and sterile hospital rooms.”

It can be easy to take good health for granted. But, by making sure that those who do not have that privilege feel cared for and supported, Lodges can make their communities more resilient and inclusive. CIP grants are a great place to get started.

CIP grant applications opened on April 1. For more information on the grants we offer, check out our Grant Toolkits. The CIP can be reached with any questions at 773/755-4730 or LodgeGrants@elks.org.