Testimonials: Why are we Elks?

Elks Lodges bring so much more to their communities than just a building, golf course or pool. They are places where neighbors come together, families share meals, and children grow up.

Elks invest in their communities through programs that help children grow up healthy and drug-free, by undertaking projects that address unmet need, and by honoring the service and sacrifice of our veterans.

If you're a member of the Elks and would like to share your story, please submit a testimonial to be featured on this page.

In 1972, the Weslaco, Tex. Lodge No. 2057 awarded me a $1,000 academic scholarship to attend a four year university.

At the time, I was thinking about attending a trade school and getting a job. With the $1,000 scholarship I opted to attend a four year University and received by Bachelors in Accounting.

This $1,000 jump started my professional career and allowed me to give my wife and sons the American dream of financial security, and myself an education.

I will always be indebted to the Elks.

Juan Gonzalez (Weslaco, TX #2057)

Hello, my name is Robert but most people call me Rob. I wanted to become a member ever since a great friend of mine, whom has passed, always wanted me to join, Bill Walker. I have been involved in our community for quite sometime, I volunteer for our local Emergency Aid and Rescue Mission, I wanted to join to somehow use my energy and contribute to this wonderful organization and perhaps continue my personal mission in helping others. I am looking forward to meeting new friends and new possibilities.

Robert Lizardo (Visalia, CA #1298)

I joined the Elks because I care and want to give back to the community. I joined at 27 years old. It's a place to socialize, and to learn respect and leadership. I’m an Elk because I love my country my family and God. I’d recommend you look into joining if you care, too.

Alex Koch (Kenai, AK #2425)

My name is Benjamin Braden, a 47 year old (as of 2018) male American Citizen.

I joined the Elks in January of 2013 but my journey towards Elkdom can be traced back to 1977 when my Grandfather began taking me along for dinners at the then absolutely huge Tacoma Elks Lodge (Something like 10,000 members at the time). My Grandfather subsequently died early a few years later and the Elks was lost to me until 2012/2013. In the preceding years to my joining the order I was living aboard a sailboat at Shilshole marina, just steps away from the Ballard Elks Lodge, but didn’t join until a few years later after I had established residence in a home in Ballard with my amazing wife Jennifer – well Whittier heights actually…but everyone considers it Ballard – a small Scandihouvian neighborhood of Seattle.

I decided to finally make that connection to my grandfather by joining the Elks - so ultimately you can define me as a Legacy member. If it wasn’t for my Grandfather taking me to the Elks as a child I may never have considered joining. I went and looked for someone I knew that was a member and finally found a fellow sailor that was a member and asked him if I could join and would he sponsor me. I was immediately shocked by what the Elks gave back to me after joining. I met more people on the block I lived on sitting in our lounge at the lodge or helping with an event at the lodge than I had met on my block in the six years prior. The Elks gave me a sense of belonging, made me more a part of my community than I ever could have otherwise found without joining. The people make this place great.

Ben Braden (Ballard(Seattle), WA #827)

I became a proud elk because as a child I was sponsored by lodge 202 as a camper at a handicapped camp with a week of activities and a holiday was celebrated each night. I promised the late Walter pack that when I turned 18 I would apply to be a member. I am now a proud member for 29 years

Jim Brown II (Charleston, WV #202)

I just joined Lodge #1937 a day ago as I wanted a better sense of community, to meet my community and networking and how I can help the community I will be retiring to in 3 years. I currently live in the Seattle, WA area and the traffic and craziness of a big city is left behind when I come to this area of quiet to rest my soul. I am SO exited to be welcomed to the Elk's and start my journey with them in the years to come.

Linda Fetterman (Long Beach, WA #1937)

I love being an Elk and especially holding the position of Veterans Chair for my lodge. It gives me a great feeling of being able to help out our veterans.

Raeann Hempel (Bayonne, NJ #434)

My husband and I want to thank everyone for another great Grand Lodge Convention! We met many new friends and visited with some old friends. We learned new things about the Elks. Thanks to all who worked so hard to make this a wonderful Grand Lodge Convention!

Brenda Wallis (Benton, IL #1234)

I'm proud to say I helped our lodge make history this year by being our first Woman Exalted Ruler. I'm a second generation Elk. My dad was a member of our lodge from 1995 until he passed away in the end of October 2009. During part of his membership here, he served as Kitchen Manager,and loved giving to The Purple Pig to help our youth,(which included his 4 grandkids),especially when he found out my son,his only grandson, was diagnosed Autistic. After he passed away, I joined our lodge in 2010 to carry on what I felt is a family tradition. I enjoyed participating with one of our Relay For Life Teams, as well as other ways too. I started the Knight chairs in 2013, and made my way through them. It was during this time that I was introduced to one of our Major Project O/T Therapists,Judy Linda,from Oakhurst,CA in 2014,and she explained how she works with kids with different developmental issues. That year I took my son for his first visit with her,and she has made such a difference in him the last 2 years. I'm so grateful that I wanted to give back to the organization for how they helped us. It's unbelievable how many giving members you come across when you happen to be in the right place at the right time. I feel fortunate to have been a part of our lodge for so long, and look forward to the rest of the year ahead to see how else I can better our lodge whether through our usual activities,along with suggestions members may make for trying something new/bringing back what hasn't been here in so long.I'm proud to have made it this far,and thankful for the members and PERs who have backed and supported me. I find it an honor to be Exalted Ruler this year,and enjoy the involvement from all aspects.

denise holdcroft (Madera, CA #1918)

I'm a brand new PROUD member of our local Elks lodge in Bakersfield CA what a great orginazation! I'm very grateful to be a part of something that helps kids and vets like WE do, i will be getting very involved as i learn more about the Elks.

Jackie Howard (Bakersfield, CA #266)

I have been an Elks Member for almost 40 years. Lodge #1999 St. Helens, Oregon. We have a beautiful view of the Columbia River. Come and visit. Richard L Sherlock PEY

Richard Sherlock (St. Helens, OR #1999)

I have non-profit in my blood. I work for full-time for a 501(c)(3), I am the Secretary for our Lodge, and Treasurer for another local non-profit. I wanted my volunteer time to make a difference and I found that in the Elks organization. The friendship and support I have received while an Elk has been fantastic, and I know should I need them, my extended family of Wisconsin Elks would be there for me. God Bless everyone one of us and Merry Christmas!

Gina Staskal ( #1540)

I was either destined to love the Elks or hate the Elks. I am an Elk and loving it. My father had been involved for as long as I can remeber. He is a PER, PVP, PDD, Past State Chairman, and was even considering a run for state president. The people we met and are still meeting have been amazing. The monies raised for Veterans, special needs children, members in need have to be upward in the millions. I was always helping in anyway I could and it was fun. It still is and now I'm working my way up the ladder just like my father. I am his Legacy and hope to be half the Elk he is someday. The Elks aren't the size of what it was 20 years ago, I hope to help change that and make it back to what it was at its peek. I know what a great honor it is to be an Elk and want others to feel what I feel about the Elks. I love the volunteering, and I have found a great home with our Antlers program. I could go on and on about the things I love because of the Elks.

Charles Crerand (Brick, NJ #2151)

I joined the Elks for the friendship and camaraderie. After about two years I started volunteering in various committees. As an eight year member I am now serving as Loyal Knight for my Lodge. The personal growth I have experienced is amazing. But even more amazing is the feeling of making a difference in our community through "hands on" community service. I have found this experience a good "bridge" from full time employment into retirement. I am proud to be an Elk.

Karen Lewin (Garden Grove, CA #1952)

I am an Elk because I believe in what they stand for: helping Vets, kids, and community.

Shirley Elliston (Sierra Vista, AZ #2065)

The Elks is more to me than just a fraternal society. My oldest memory is from when I was three years old and saw my father's picture hanging with my grandfather's picture on the wall of Past Exalted Rulers of my Lodge.

Ever since that day, I have grown to love and cherish what the Elks stand for as well as the ceremony associated with it. The rituals surrounding Initiation, Installation of Officers, Flag Day, and especially the death of a Member are without equal and truly set the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks apart from any other fraternal group.

The work we do is unparalleled and the culture is awe-inspiring. I truly am honored to call myself a member of the greatest organization in the world.

William Coley (Bristol, CT #1010)

As a child, my parents would visit Joliet Lodge almost daily. I thought to myself - why? - and never thought about joining such an organization.

When my father passed away, I was asked if I would like to join and am glad I did. It did't take me long to meet many of the lodge members and get involved and develop friendships that will never be forgotten or forsaken. In fact, 6 months after I joined I was asked to be chaplain for the following Lodge year and I have been active ever since. "They got my by the horns" since I joined, and they knew I would be someone to support the Lodge for years to come. From the Lodge to the District to the State Level I have made friendships that I will never forget.

Mark Bump (Joliet, IL #296)

I was involved with fraternity life in college, and there's no other feeling like it. You learn leadership skills, develop bonds of brotherhood, give back to your college community and make your surrounding environment a more positive place in the long run. After graduating from college and then subsequently graduate school, I went and built up my career for a couple of years. When I moved to Beverly, I decided that I had to get back into fraternal life. It never leaves you. After much deliberation and thought, I realized that the ELKS were the best choice. They offered countless charitable activities, many areas to get involved with and a place for me to get to know members of the community through a fraternal and communal setting. I come to every community service event that I can come to and I wish to step up and serve in a leadership role (or five). I have only been a member since September, but I have had so many wonderful experiences and I can't wait for many more years of ELKDOM to come!

Stefan Mogielnicki (Beverly-Peabody, MA #1309)

I was looking for something to make a difference in the lives of others and myself. The lodge has brought me brotherhood and the chance to be involved.

David Gaines (New Braunfels, TX #2279)

I joined the Lodge strictly for social reasons. Shortly after becoming a member, I was recruited to help fill an open position in the Lodge. As I learned more about the Elks and began attending State Conventions I then realized just how much we impact society. I am truly awestruck at how generous we are in service and financial aid to our nation’s youth, veterans, and the special needs communities. I am proud to be a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks!

Brian Bourgeois (Marinette, WI #1313)

I am truly proud to be a member of Searcy, AR. Lodge #2247. I was even more proud to be elected to the 5 Year trustee position by my fellow members. I have had some amazing experiences and met some remarkable people since joining the BPOE. I look forward to many more years of the fulfillment, since of purpose, and joy that comes from being an Elk. I would like to challenge all members to do their absolute best to keep "What it means to be an ELK" alive in our lodges on a daily basis. If we let everyone in our communities know just how wonderful it is to be an ELK, and present yourself in a manner worthy of an ELK, membership will follow.

Rick Long (Searcy, AR #2247)

Because it gives me the opportunity to help in my community, regardless of physical ability.

Tom Underwood (Charlottesville, VA #389)

We all had our reasons for becoming Elks. Some selfish, some benevolent. It could have been the cheap drinks, or was it the service we provide to our various communities and the help we extend to those in need. Whatever those reasons were, today you are proud to be an ELK and you have every right to be proud. Not because of who have been members, but because of what these members have done over the years and continue to do today.

Mark Bolson (Westminster, CO #2227)

Elkdom to me was a rite of adulthood that I looked forward to from a young age. I watched many Eleven O'Clock toasts and Memorial Services with wide, solemn eyes throughout my childhood. Both my grandparents are members - my grandfather is a PER and my grandmother had the honor of being one of the first female members of Austin Lodge #201. I was initiated three months after I turned twenty-one and am #201's youngest member. Elkdom to me represents charity, working together, and endless hours of good conversation between members from all walks of life.

Celia Gomez ( #201)

Been in the Lodge many years. Love what we stand for and do for the Veterans. Don't like how the Lodge is losing membership at an alarming rate. "ALL YOU GOT TO DO IS ASK A FRIEND!"

Ronald Hyland (Oneida, NY #767)

When I was first asked to join the Elks, I was told about who the Elks were. ENF, CHEMPI, Veterans remembrance as well as the local charities that were provide for kids. I decided that because I had healthy children I should join to give back to families that were not as blessed as mine. That is what I have done since, ongoing for 35 years. I have gone through the chairs in two Lodges, I have belonged to 5 different Lodges as I moved around America and I am presently on the Board of Trustees for my present Lodge. That is what I continue to believe in and work for. Yes I'm very proud of the Order and all that we have accomplished TOGETHER. I wanted to be one of many to accomplish great things rather than an individual accomplishing little.

Gilbert Bentley (Santa Cruz, CA #824)

I am a very proud Elk because of what we stand for, because of what we do, because we are caring people, because we love our country and all the people that stand up for it (Vets, Active military, etc..). Our communities need us and I have derived a new meaning for what "ELKS" signify: Extending Love & Kindness Somewhere!

Ricky Boucher (Burlington, VT #916)

I became an Elk to better myself through helping others. What really got me involved the most was the Christmas Basket Program. I got to assist in the program, and the look of thanks from the people we help is more thanks than simple words. I consider it a great honor to be an Elk and look forward to the Christmas Basket Committee this coming year.

Warren Paxton (Miami, OK #1320)

I joined the Elks because of the charitable work they do in our communities and quickly learned about our CHEA Major Project and the Elks National Foundation. All of these are important charitable opportunities and I enjoy giving of my money to them. I also became part of our veteran's program in the Lodge and enjoy visits to the Long Beach, VA Hospital to give our vets a few minutes of diversion from their normal lives.

Thomas (Tom) Lemm (Huntington Beach, CA #1959)

I joined this wonderful organization because of what it stands for. Helping young children achieve great success in every way- Hoop Shoot, Scholarships, soccer, etc. My husband pasted away 3 years ago after being a 25 year member. He was instrumental in starting many youth activities and got great joy in watching the faces of the children when they received an award. I am want to carry on his legacy with great pride.

Marynette Vallion (Midwest City, OK #1890)

An Elks/ER Family Legacy…

My family legacy in Elkdom actually began with my Grandfather, James J. Maume Sr., who was a member of Hampton Lodge 366 for many years. His son; my father, David J. Maume, Sr., introduced me to Elkdom after he became a member in 1969. When Dad was installed as Exalted Ruler of Norfolk Lodge 38 in 1999, he proposed me as a member, and I was initiated March 16, 1999. My mother, Shirley Maume, was also initiated in 1999; and later, was also installed as Exalted Ruler of Norfolk Lodge 38 in 2005.

When my father passed in February of 2004, it was difficult for me to go in the Lodge for a while. There had been some great memories with him that made it tough to walk through the door. But when my Mother was installed in 2005, I realized that dad would have wanted me to continue supporting what our Order represents, and remain involved.

I strongly believe in the great philanthropic work we do, and I feel that the passion I have for our order was imparted to me from my mother and father!

It is a family legacy that I am very proud to be a part of!

Douglas Maume (Norfolk, VA #38)

My dad has been an Elk for 20 plus years. I grow up in an Elks Lodge. From a very young age I have always been very involved with the Elks. I joined 2 years ago to better help my community and all the charity's the Elks work with. I love being an Elk. When you go to other Lodges or to the National Convention, it feels like a big family reunion. The Elks really are "The best people on Earth".

krystal pinkowski (Murrells Inlet, SC #2797)

I became an Elk to get more involved with the community and work with teenagers and Veterans. By working with the Scholarship program and Adopt-A-Vet program I’m accomplishing both of my goals, while working with so many new Elk friends.

Janis Stull (Boulder, CO #566)

After becoming a Mom, to my now 22 year old son with very significant developmental disabilities, I changed my career path. After being an Insurance Agent for almost 25 years I applied for a job with the State of NJ and actually got the job! For the past 18 years I have been informing other families and individuals with disabilities on how to find services and self-direct those services. My husband was asked to join our Lodge #1875. Soon after my husband became an Elk, my son George was named as our Lodge's Special Child. The Lodge was so generous to my son, that I joined the Ladies and a few years later became an Elk myself. The reason I am is because the Elks has been the best kept secret for too many years and want to help spread the word. We have so much to offer the people in our community, I know where the needs are, and I want to help make a difference.

Eileen Coyne (Toms River, NJ #1875)

I'm an Elk because I want to be associated with people who do good work and have fun doing it! I've visited dozens of Lodges across the U.S. from Honolulu to Key West and have always found a warm welcome and safe haven for me and my family. My wife is an Elk, my son is an Elk and my daugher is an Elk and when old enough, my grandchildren will be Elks too!

Lewie Trent (Huntington, WV #313)

I am an Elk because I love the involvement I have become accustomed, with the community committee work and I also enjoy being an Officer of the Lodge and to help direct its future. I have been a member for 7 years, continually involved in chairing events, officer positions, and ritual competitions. I have become close to many people in the Lodge and at the State and National levels. I am currently Lecturing Knight at Hillsboro, OR and look forward to my ER year in 2014.

Cathy Swanson (Hillsboro, OR #1862)

In one year we helped raise over $3,000, including a Gratitude Grant, to help build a playground for children with Autism. With a $1,000 Gratitude Grant we bought coats and gloves for school children in the Bremerton school district. As chairman of a great committee of volunteers we decorated, cooked and served over 200 Thanksgiving Day dinners for our lodge brothers and sister, this done at a minimal cost. The same committee did the same serving Christmas dinner on Christmas day. As one of our members who has been an Elk for 65 years, with a blessing to be able to have holiday dinner with his family of 16. If not for the efforts of this committee it would not have happened. As one I would have little impact within this organization my impact is limitless. Our communities need us! Our lodges need us, VOLUNTEER TODAY!

Sandra Read (Bremerton, WA #1181)

Being raised in Kitsap County, WA it's in your blood to be a patriot. The Birthday bucks go to a hospital that saved my life as a child. I have now sponsored dad as an Elk, WWll U.S. Navy vet in Salem, OR.

cynthony petrie (Bremerton, WA #1181)

I was encouraged by a co-worker to join the Elks in 1986; he said it was a great place to workout and keep fit. So I decided to join. In 1988 I moved to another job and let my membership lapse. I reinstated in 2002 for the benefits of the RV Parking. In 2009 I sponsored a close friend, we were in the lodge and my wife saw an ad stating that the lodge needed an editor for the lodge bulletin. Three years later I still love being the editor. I found out real fast exactly what the Elks stand for and what they do for the community. I am PROUD to be an ELK and share it with everyone I know and work with. ELKS CARE, ELKS SHARE!

J Daniel Stewart (Gateway-Gresham, OR #1805)

It is wonderful to have a "home away from home", complete with friends, whenever we travel. I love meeting people from different places and backgrounds. It is fun and rewarding when we do something that "makes a difference". I believe that the main purpose of Elkdom is: Raise as much money for charity as possible and have great fun doing it.

Sue VanEmburg (Cleburne, TX #811)

The Elks is not only a great social organization, but one where money one donates goes to who needs it - not to money managers. Let's continue to help the kids and the Vets and do it through being an Elk Member.

Elizabeth Brousseau (Fort Pierce, FL #1520)

We came to the Elks dances and parties with friends who were members. They tried their best to get us to join, but we stalled for several years. Then, one New Year's Eve one of our PER's, a very well spoken gentleman with a great skill at oratory gave the Eleven O'Clock Toast and I listened very carefully to his deep, perfectly controlled baritone voice as he gave it his best.

I remember thinking that if these people really mean that, then I should be one of them.

I did, and I have never been sorry.

Terry Akin (Louisville, KY #8)

I became an Elk after Lodge 272 became the sponsoring organization for my unit of U.S. Naval Sea Cadets. My employer is a member and PER of the Lodge and he and the current Exalted Ruler asked me to join. Being a veteran, the Elks history of help to Vets and young people makes it the place for me.

Bruce Stump (Pittsfield-Adams, MA #272)

As a child I had orthopedic problems I needed surgery my family could not afford. The Elks and Harry Anna hospital came to the rescue. I never forgot the generosity and kindness shown I hope I can do my part through the Elks to benefit my community.

Daniel Doty (Tri-County, KY #2826)

I joined the Elks after moving to a new town and stayed with the Elks because I found a community. The good work the Elks do in our community fits in with the family values that I grew up with. At the time I joined I wondered if those values could still exist in this day. I found it to be alive and well in the Elks. My wife and daughter think I'm nuts at times, but I have found an outlet for my passion to serve. I can hold my head high and proudly say, "I'm an Elk."

Keith Helling (Lakeview, OR #1536)

I am an Elk because someone asked me. I continue to be an Elk because of their charitable and patriotic beliefs, and because of the veterans and youth programs. It makes me feel good!

GARY HAMLET (Madras, OR #2017)

I joined the Pasadena Elks #672 because of bowling when my team mates joined the Elks. I became active right away in Veterans and Christmas Baskets, later the Hoop Shoot, Soccer, and Youth Activities. Scholarships, Americanism Essay contests followed. I got involved as a Lodge Chairman and District Chairman as Youth Activities/Soccer Shoot. I met and worked with Great people like Joe Nebelsky who taught me many things, As Exalted ruler my theme was: Serving Youth Through Elkdom. When I see a student being rewarded, that is part of how Elks can make a difference. That is why I am an Elk.

Wilbert Koskela (West Covina, CA #1996)

I am an Elk and believe in what the Elks are all about. Elks are about the youth of our communities as they are our future. Anything we can do to help them in accomplishing their goals in life should always be at the top of our list. Also believing in never forgetting a Veteran is also very close to my heart. As we help those who have the need to get back on their feet and help those that are so disabled they don’t have that opportunity. So we go play bingo with them, or bring them to dinner, take them to ballgames, bowling, etc. That’s what Elks are about and that's why I'm an ELK! Thank you.

Dale Blomker (Sun City, AZ #2559)

I joined the Elks to help the less fortunate people in my community and to do my part in combating drugs, mainly with our youth.

Peter Christensen (Mountain Home, AR #1714)

When I first retired in Green Valley, AZ I knew that I needed to be busy. One day an article appeared in the Green Valley News about the non-smoking lodge issue for Green Valley Elks Lodge #2592. I wrote a rebuttal letter to the newspaper and I stated that I was going to join the Elks Lodge and become an active member since the lodge was non-smoking. I must have had at least 10 phone telephone calls from Elk members asking me what I'd like to do for the Elks in the community. I am very active in our lodge and community. We have the best Elks Lodge in the state of Arizona. Our membership almost doubled when we went non-smoking. Presently I'm the Esteemed Leading Knight, Lodge Publicity Chairman, Lodge Community Image Chairman, AZ South District Vice-Chairman for Youth Activities and assist my husband with the Drug Awareness program for Green Valley. I love being an Elk!!! Elks really are the BEST PEOPLE ON EARTH!

Cheryl Ponzo (Green Valley, AZ #2592)

Being a third generation Elk, I wanted to continue the great charitable works my Grandfather and Father were involved with.

James White (Pensacola Beach, FL #497)

I became an Elk because I believe in what they stood for and still do today. There is no fraternal or any organization that does as much or helps others than the Elks. I am always proud to tell someone why I am an Elk and what we do as Elks. I still believe that Elkdom comes from one place and that is from the heart, and no one has a heart as big as a true believer in Elkdom.

William Buttram (Raceway, AZ #2852)

I became an Elk in order to make my community a better place to live. I want to help others and make a positive difference in their lives. My favorite committee to chair is community activities. I am trying to do a different thing every month to help others in my community. I truly believe by working together with my fellow Elks we can make this world a better place.

I have met and made friends with some fantastic people since becoming an Elk. You make friends with people from all over the country and different backgrounds that you might not have had an opportunity to meet.

Jeannie Fontana (Palm Coast, FL #2709)

After losing my father, who was killed on December 3rd, 1944 in WWII and my mother who had been hospitalized most of her life, I was an orphan at the age of four and later lived in various foster homes. As a child I never forget the local Elks inviting kids like me who knew early on there wasn't a Santa to bring us nice gifts and clothes. They had a Santa who gave us a brand new one dollar bill and a stocking of hard candy. (A dollar could buy a lot back then.) We were fed well and it was always topped off with an ice cream sundae! That one act of kindness has stayed in my heart forever. I cannot ever repay those dedicated Elks, but each Xmas I make sure my family quietly helps another family in need. After all, that’s what elks do on a daily basis. Thank You.

Leonard Smallacombe (Fort Pierce, FL #1520)

I am a member because I get the opportunity to do more for the youth and veterans with the help of my Lodge and District than I could ever do on my own.

Pedro Rosa (Rotterdam, NY #2157)

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