Veterans News

Elks Share Voluntary Service Experiences

Through the Voluntary Service program, ENVSC stations volunteers throughout the country in VA and State hospitals, nursing homes, and other facilities. These Elks are actively serving veterans in their communities, and their experience is indispensable.

In October, ENVSC hosted the first online panel discussion with Representatives from the Voluntary Service program. Participants heard first-hand from volunteers about their activities over the past several months and heard tips for serving veterans, forming relationships with facility staff members, and using grants to enhance programs.

Here are a few of the ideas our volunteers shared during the panel:

Ways to continue volunteering when there are restrictions

  • Little things can make a difference. Celebrate birthdays with cards or a phone call to recognize veterans individually and let them know they are remembered.

  • Plan outdoor activities when you can, like developing gardens, building areas for miniature golf or a bean bag toss game, or gathering a group of families to sing Christmas carols at veterans’ windows.

  • Craft kits are a great way to provide veterans with something to do when they’re isolated. You could also host a virtual event to work on kits together, or an online art show for veterans to show what they’ve made. Click here to use our craft kit order form.

Building relationships at hospitals and other facilities

  • Don’t give up if the first contact doesn’t go as expected. Everyone has bad days, so take the time to get to know the staff members at the facility.

  • Be a resource for the hospital. As volunteers, we’re guests at the facility and we are there to serve.

  • Follow through on your commitments, be on time, and be true to your word. As volunteers, we can demonstrate that Elks are people to rely on.

Three tips for using grants

  • Coordinate Lodge and community resources to maximize your impact. Use grants, work with the Lodge Veterans Committee, and gather supply donations from outside of the Lodge.

  • Form relationships with community partners like recreation therapists, PTSD support groups, residential veterans’ homes, and National Guard Family Readiness Coordinators. Having a network of support will help you meet a wider range of veteran needs.

  • Don’t forget to document your projects! Take pictures or videos to show what you are doing, and you may inspire others to join you in serving veterans.

If you find these ideas useful, be sure to join us for future panel discussions to hear more from ENVSC volunteers!

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