Nineteen Elks scholars and two ENF staff, also Elks scholars, traveled from all over the United States to serve the city of Dallas in the name of the Elks from January 8-14. The scholars partnered with CitySquare, a service organization dedicated to serving individuals experiencing homelessness through advocacy and friendship. From sorting clothes to serving meals, the scholars made their Elks family proud, and made a lasting impact on one another and the men and women they served.
Every day the scholars worked hard at the various service sites. Throughout the week, they sorted and priced clothes at the CitySquare Thrift Store so that the profit could be used to provide food for those in need. In two days, they priced nearly 2,000 items of clothing, in addition to hundreds of books and movies. On Tuesday, they organized storage space and closets at the downtown location of CitySquare, called CityWalk, helping them run more effectively to meet the needs of individuals transitioning out of homelessness. That night the scholars also served dinner to nearly 100 residents at CityWalk. On Wednesday, half of the group served as personal shoppers for families attending the CitySquare Food Pantry, while half returned to the Thrift Store, and on Thursday, the groups switched places. It was a week full of meaningful conversation and interactions.
After pouring themselves into service during the day, the group gathered every night to engage in reflection activities to help process through experiences from the day. Kyle Bort, a 2016 EEG scholar, continued to reflect upon the week once he returned home and shared, "Through the week, I was able to redefine and revitalize my perspective regarding the social problem of poverty and homelessness." From the first night to the last, the scholars voiced a similar desire to serve with humility and authenticity and to gain perspectives that differed from their own.
When they weren’t serving, the scholars were still busy seeing the sights and connecting with their Elks family. They visited the Sixth Floor Museum and the Grapevine, Texas Lodge No. 2483 hosted the scholars for dinner Wednesday evening, with the night ending with a lesson in line dancing. Friday was a celebration of all their hard work by taking a day off. They toured AT&T stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, engaged in some friendly but competitive bowling, and ended the day with dinner at the Arlington, Texas Lodge No. 2114.
From service to sightseeing, the scholars spent the week learning about societal issues, serving neighbors in need and connecting with Elks scholars and members. You can join too! Click here to learn more about Elks Scholar Service Trips and how you can get involved.
Click here to view photos from the trip.
Click here to read a blog post by 2016 EEG scholar, Kyle Bort, about what he learned on the Winter Elks Scholar Service Trip.