“Elks family is the accumulation of hard work, dedication, laughter, service and togetherness that brought us to this point,” shared 2016 MVS scholar Cullen Edens. “It's the life stories while gardening in 100 degree heat. It's the intense competition of who can count the most donations. It's the fun of playing games until curfew. It's the hard work and teamwork of ripping out thorny rose bushes. Elks family is the lifelong memories of serving the San Antonio community together.”
Before joining 130 of their counterparts for the weekend, 20 Elks scholars from 14 different states traveled to San Antonio to learn about poverty, homelessness and other problems faced by the community, and serve those experiencing them. The group consisted of Legacy and MVS scholars, undergrads and alums, service trip veterans and first-timers. However, they all left with new friendships and a new understanding of what it means to be a part of the #ElksFamily.
After arriving in San Antonio throughout the day on Tuesday, June 26, the scholars served at different sites across the city each day Wednesday, Thursday and Friday-- from gardening to harvesting fresh produce to sorting through clothing donations, painting and building toys for children. Despite the San Antonio Sun, it was not difficult for them to stay focused on the value of the service they were providing.
2017 MVS scholar Galina Bello reflected, “This trip made me feel relieved that people experiencing homelessness in San Antonio have great organizations willing to help them and provide them with resources.”
After serving during the day, the group spent the evenings relaxing and bonding. One of the highlights of each day was jumping in the pool at the beautiful Trinity University campus, their home for the week. On Wednesday night, the scholars enjoyed authentic Texas barbecue meal on the Riverwalk and explored downtown, including the Alamo.
The scholars formed friendships and bonds that will last far beyond the trip. Heather Weller, a 2017 MVS scholar, summed up the trip well:
“These trips serve as a great way to meet other Elks scholars who you will most definitely connect with since they are working toward the same goal and want to make a difference. They are some of the sweetest people you will ever meet and will always be there for you!”
Click here to view photos from the trip.
The Elks National Foundation offers three Elks Scholar Service Trips per year. These trips provide scholars the opportunity to learn about societal issues, serve those in need in the name of the Elks, and connect with their Elks family from across the country. For more information about the trips, visit enf.elks.org/ScholarServiceTrips.