Written by Brother Kevan McBeth - National Executive Director
July has now come and gone, and we’ve had a chance to catch up on our sleep, answer phone calls and respond to emails that were missed from the last couple of weeks, and thought it might be a good time to re-cap all of the amazing things that went on over the course of the week of our national convention in Regina!
Firstly, we want to congratulate Regina Elks Lodge #9 for being such amazing hosts over the week – the volunteers and organizing committee thought of absolutely everything, kept us entertained, well fed and watered, and took care of our every need during the week. Your service to your Elks brothers and sisters made us truly Elks Proud!
OUR FUTURE IS BRIGHT!
Our week kicked off with a bang- Cory Blair, your Director of Member Services at Grand Lodge, held a two day training session for 23 of our high-potential future leaders of the organization, showing them tools, tips and techniques to gain a greater understanding of their instinctual strengths and how they can apply them in their lodges, provincial associations and at a national level to help fulfill the mission and vision of the Elks across Canada. There were candidates from across the country with a wide range of experience and membership within the Elks – ranging from months to decades, giving the learning experience for all a broad level of insights into where our great organization needs to go today, as well as where it needs to be in the future!
“During the 2 days we did a lot of self awarness, team work and building ideas to take back to lodges across Canada. We have lots of motivation to move our organization in the right direction and feel Awesome in doing so!! Really impressed with our emerging leaders group this year!!!”
-Cory Blair, Director of Member Services
MAKING MEMBERSHIP A PRIORITY
Each year at Convention for the past couple of years, the forward planning committee (consisting of Provincial Presidents, National Committee Chairs and the Grand Executive) come together to develop a strategic plan for the upcoming year.
Our focus last year was to increase the volume on the reasons for our members to be proud – to focus on communicating our collective efforts, building capacity within our lodges and celebrating the individuals in our lodges who make our Order stronger.
We launched the Elks Proud program that includes merchandise that screams our pride in being a part of the best volunteer organization for men and women in Canada, told our stories in the Elks Proud blog (that now has 26 stories posted in less than a year), shared pictures and videos on Facebook and Instagram and created an Elks Proud peer to peer recognition system to reward those Elks that we are proud to call our brothers and sisters.
This year’s focus was to build our momentum from the hopeful optimism we were feeling for the order to begin to focus on the lifeblood of the organization- our membership. The forward planning committee understood that it is critical for the Elks of Canada to begin to attack the issue of membership from a lodge, provincial association, and committee and Grand Lodge perspective. Growing, developing and maintaining our membership is the responsibility of us all, and it was agreed that this year we create initiatives focused on attraction, recruitment, development and retention at each and every level of the organization.
A SPECIAL GUEST FROM THE US ELKS
We were so honoured to have Brother Rick Gathen, Grand Lodge Membership and Marketing Director of the US Elks, join the committee to share insights, tactics and strategies from the US Elks that have seen the order undergo a resurgence in the past decade to become a strong and thriving fraternal organization that continues to build its membership and overall impact across the country.
Rick spoke to the Leadership Development training group, participated in the Forward Planning Committee session and spoke to the convention delegates as well, bringing many ideas, insights and observations that he has gathered over his past years at the US Elks and provided numerous low-cost and no-cost ideas to improve the attraction, recruitment, development and retention of membership.
One of his points that seemed to strike a chord with the members was his 10 and 5 target – a simple goal and challenge for each Lodge to raise their membership this year by 10%, while keeping their turn-over at the Lodge under 5%. This focus at a Lodge level would place an emphasis on the need to attract new members, but also put in place measures that would reduce the amount of members that are exiting the Lodge. We obviously can’t keep everyone, but a 5% turnover within a Lodge would indicate that there is some great work being done to keep brothers and sisters involved and engaged. A 10% recruitment target is one that isn’t too big of a target for our Lodges to meet. The 10-5 initiative is something that we are looking to incorporate within Lodges across Canada, and special recognition will be given to Lodges that achieve this goal in 2018-19.
We have videotaped Rick’s full presentation, and will make his powerpoint presentation and 10-5 handout available online and through e-tracks in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for more of Rick’s presentation shortly!
A KICK OFF TO PROCEEDINGS
We kicked off proceedings on Wednesday with a bit of a different program. Firstly, we welcomed the Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan, the honourable W. Thomas Molloy, who brought greetings as well as the honourable Gene Makowsky from the Government of Saskatchewan. Then before things got too far down the road, we had Brother Darren Entner from Balgonie Elks Lodge No. 572 share a bit about the STARS air ambulance program that he is a part of. Darren was a member of the first responders unit with STARS at the tragic Humboldt Broncos bus crash, and is a highly skilled and trained member of the air medical crew, and is a proud Elks member – not as proud as we are to have YOU as a member though Darren!
With the proceedings going quickly the first day, we also broke early to perform a volunteer activity with the Regina YWCA, who supports a number of families who have been victims of men’s violence against women and their children. The YWCA has developed shelters for women and their children to stay in while they begin to get back on their feet, and the YWCA has always wanted to create a greenspace in front of the facility that felt more like a garden and lawn, so the mothers and children could feel at home.
Brother Cory Blair, together with the work of many on the Member Services, Marketing and Charities Committees, brought together 25 Elks delegates and Monte Dobson of Rapid Lawn (who was doing us a favour!) to excavate the front of the building and help build and stain some of the furniture for the front lawn. This awesome video shows that all-too-familiar Elks pride and love of service in action – Charlie the Elks even got involved and handed out mini-charlies for the kids!
The other neat little twist this year, in partnership with the Regina Elks Lodge No. 9 and a local brewery called District Brewing, was our very own Elks Beer!
The Regina Lodge had a number of flats of Elks Pilsner and Elks Radler made for convention, giving everyone a taste of a great local brewery and the chance to enjoy our very own brewed and canned beer.
TWISTIN THE NIGHT AWAY
The Regina Lodge also hosted a number of fantastic evening events including a steak knight, a 50’s themed Sock Hop and a welcome reception for all the delegates. There was a Karaoke machine set up one night and we discovered that many of our Elks members have hidden talents and loooooove to sing! We also got a chance for some to sample a Prairie “delicacy” thanks to PGER Duane Felt and friends, who brought Prairie Oysters to sample. PGER Dom Leach was not a fan! J
As many of you know, the Elks of Canada have launched a new program called the Elks Proud Award – an award that is passed on from Elks Member to Elks Member in celebration and recognition of the hard work, dedication and commitment to Elkdom that he or she has displayed during their time as a member of the Elks of Canada. During convention, Brother Joe Calder of Stranraer No. 178 Lodge was given the award from Brother John Houston of Moose Mountain No. 483 Lodge.
This award is intended to be given to an Elks Member who is an example of Elkdom, and then it is up to recipient to pay it forward and recognize another member from any place that they wish to send the award. For more information, check out the Elks Proud Award page on our website!
A FANTASTIC END TO A FANTASTIC WEEK
The week finished up with Brother Ron Potter being installed as your new Grand Exalted Ruler, and Sister Deb Sallenback being recognized for an amazing (and historical) year of representing the Elks of Canada. Grand Exalted Ruler Potter shared with us plans to travel across the country and share messaging related to his theme of “Looking Back, Driving Forward” with as many Lodges as he can. He and his wife Debi will be traveling together and plan on seeing a lot of the countryside during his year as Exalted Ruler.
It was an amazing week of fantastic events and activities, as well as the usual fun and visiting with old friends and making new ones. We hope that you all had a fantastic time in the Queen City, and that you all managed to get home safely and are enjoying the rest of your summer!
Until next time friends….and don’t forget…….YOU’RE AWESOME!