Hollywood Comes to Rotterdam
As a district and Lodge ENF chair, Pedro Rosa is a busy man. Thanks to his efforts, he has helped Rotterdam, N.Y., Lodge No. 2157 stay busy serving the community as well.

Rosa used a Promise Grant two years ago to start Sense-able Movies, a movie program for children with autism. Ten events and $9,000 in ENF grants later, Rosa and his Lodge have left a lasting impression on local families living with autism.

Lights, Camera, Action

After becoming ENF district chair in 2008, Rosa recognized the potential power of Community Investments Program grants at the Lodge level. He began searching for a project that would fit the criteria of the Promise Grant. The Sense-able Movie program started as a collaboration between Rosa and his wife, who works for an organization that helps individuals with disabilities.

Rosa established a partnership with the Autism Society of Greater New York and a local movie theater to get the Sense-able Movie program off the ground. The movies are played at a lower volume and the lights are dimmed to provide a sensory-friendly experience.

Oscar-Worthy Volunteer Director

Rosa recruited numerous Elks and local Venture Scout volunteers to help. The Autism Society stepped in to train everyone, which has helped create a robust group of skilled volunteers.

A strong partnership and a strong group of core volunteers have helped this program succeed. Now, the Lodge is able to run almost three shows a month for more than 100 youth and their families.

“Volunteers are there to greet the families, in the theater to assist children and then run a room outside the theater in case the movie becomes too much,” says Rosa.

Movie Magic

Since the program started, Rosa has seen the positive impact it’s had firsthand.

“Many families have told me that the program was first time in years they were able to do something as a family and enjoy it,” says Rosa. “Now kids who couldn’t sit through 10 minutes of a movie at first can sit through the entire thing.”

Rosa has helped his Lodge create a program that more and more people are interested in getting involved with after each movie screening.

“The fantastic part of CIP grants is that they have helped engage the Lodge,” says Rosa. “With these programs, it turns the money that members donate to the ENF into something tangible.”

Like a Hollywood director, Rosa has helped his Lodge turn the Sense-able Movie program into a box office hit. And with the help of CIP grants, there will be many successful sequels.

The Elks National Foundation will help Lodges meet local needs by investing up to $6.5 million this year in Elks communities through Beacon, Gratitude, Promise and Impact Grants. These grants offer Lodges an opportunity to serve the community in ways that will raise the Lodge’s profile, energize the membership, encourage former members to return to the fold, and gain the notice of people who want to be part of an organization that’s doing great things. To learn more about the Community Investments Program, please visit www.elks.org/enf/community.