Meet the Robinsons

Written by Brother Kevan McBeth - National Executive Director

One of the amazing things that I get a chance to see here in my position at Grand Lodge is all of the amazing things that our Lodges and members do for people. I often wish that I could do a better job of sharing the stories that we hear, and bring you all in to experience the impact of your actions. It's truly amazing some of the work that is being done by our brothers and sisters, and like I always say "There is no magic in the world like Elks magic."-  that special type of kindness and empathy that you show to others is truly rare in this world. We need to celebrate it more often! 

Meet the Robinsons! 

Nowhere was this magic more evident in the last couple of months than when we had a chance to meet the Robinson family- Parent Alex Robinson and Desiree Gauld, their son Aodhan and their girls Taiya and twins Skyla and Jayde. 

Alex reached out to us through the Elks and Royal Purple Fund for Children after hearing from his realtor about the magic that the Elks have when it comes to making a difference for Children inthe community. This information came at an opportune time in the Robinson's lives as they were looking for a home that could better suit the needs of their family, and in particular, their twin daughters Skyla and Jayde. 

Skyla and Jayde were born just 25 weeks into Desiree's pregnancy by emergency C-section, and were quickly airlifted from BC Women's Hospital to the BC Children's hospital for critical care. At the time of their delivery, Skyla was just 804 grams in weight and her sister weighed in at 813 grams, with translucent skin and their eyes still fused shut. Their lungs weren't fully developed, so they had to be intubated and on oxygen the first two and a half months. Despite overcoming many health conditions, infections and even blood transfusions, the two Robinson girls face medical complications. It was discovered that they each had suffered a rupture of blood vessels in their brain, putting the girls at risk of developing Cerebal palsy, a neurological disorder affecting motor power and coordination related to damage to the brain in early life. 

The Robinsons were faced with a new set of challenges in their lives, but were determined to remove any of the barriers in their way that would ensure Skyla and Jayde would be included in their community, just as any other child. 

As Jayde and Skyla grew older, their needs changed and transportation became an issue for the girls. They needed more space for their wheelchairs, and the family could no longer lift the girls out of their chairs the way that they could when they were younger. They needed a van that would allow them to travel with the girls safely and securely- as a family. 

That's when Alex found the contact information for Agnes Fuchs, our National Charities Coordinator, and Roy Archer at the Mission Elks Lodge No. 30. There, the Robinsons were able to connect their children to the kindness of our members through the Mission Elks Lodge and the Elks and Royal Purple Fund for Children to access funding that was used to help the family purchase a van for their children. 

When we caught up with the Robinsons in Langley at Convention, we shot this amazing video of them and captured the impact of your generosity to their family. They had just returned from their first vacation as a family to Oregon, and they were only able to do so because of this amazing gift that you all played a part in giving them! 

THIS is what it's all about people.

Written by Brother Kevan McBeth -  Executive Director - Elks of Canada

As many of you know, one of the things that we are absolutely committed to doing this year at Grand Lodge through our strategic plan is to start to bring back the level of pride that we all should have in our Order. You've heard me talk here and in presentations at Convention about the need for us to Lead with Awesome - sharing some of the amazing things that we do as Elks each and every day because it's just what we do as Elks. It's who we are. In my opinion, we aren't celebrating our amazing work enough, so we are going to change all that by doing a better job of sharing our stories, just like this one.

Since June, I have been wearing two hats at the office - I have been doing my usual work as your National Executive Director, but I have also been filling the void that our amazing Charities Coordinator Agnes Fuchs left when she retired just before the beginning of July. I decided not to fill the role right away so that I could learn a bit more about the Elks and Royal Purple Fund For Children, and its inner workings when it comes to the relationships that exist with programs, as well as better understand the Personal Assistance program. I can tell you that I have gained a true appreciation of the role that Agnes filled brilliantly for the last 18 years, but I have also come to better understand why the Fund for Children is so special and important to our organization. 

Nothing demonstrates this more than opening up a piece of mail addressed to the Fund for Children from a parent or a child who has been a recipient of the amazing generosity of our members and seeing and reading about the impact that you have had on a complete stranger who was in need of help. And no letter better demonstrates that impact more than the one we received from Caitlin Brockman, who wrote a letter recently to the Nanaimo Elks. 

Caitlin Brockman, a recipient of three Personal Assistance donations through the Elks and Royal Purple Fund for Children has a message for the members of the Order.

Caitlin Brockman, a recipient of three Personal Assistance donations through the Elks and Royal Purple Fund for Children has a message for the members of the Order.

I reached out to Caitlin and asked if she would allow me to share her letter with you all, and not only did she agree, but she also sent me some great pictures and we have connected on social media so we can stay in touch. 

This is her letter:

To the Nanaimo Elks, 

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I have a tendency to look at myself in the mirror as I place my hearing aids in their respective canals just so I can watch my expression change. As the sounds in my surroundings come to life, I can't help but smile. I grew up acknowledging that although many people could hear without effort, having the means to afford hearing devices made this only a privilege for me. This is why every morning I start my day by silently paying my respects to your association and all the members who have worked so hard to improve my quality of life. 

Without the support and funding that you have continuously sponsored me (for the third time now), I do not believe I would have been as resilient as I am today. I would be lying if I said that growing up with a permanent disability hasn't been difficult, but as the years go by I learn that my identity is so much more than that. 

Since being diagnosed with a Moderate Bilateral Hearing Loss at the age of four, I have accomplished many things in my life that I am proud of. I have traveled to new places, been an active member of sports and recreation teams, gained incredible exposure to many sources of education and professional work environments, established and maintained many healthy and loving relationships, while also recently graduating from Vancouver Island University's Child and Youth Care Degree Program. 

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My passion for walking alongside children and youth is only just beginning. You can find me currently pursuing an internship at Albert Children's Hospital where I am in the process of becoming a Certified Child Life Specialist. Between Oncology and Mental Health units, I am learning and expanding my capacity to cater to the emotional needs of a child, youth and their family while they are navigating the stress and anxieties that come with hospitalization. Upon completion of my internship in August of 2017, I will return to Vancouver Island in order to begin working as a Child and Youth Grief Counselor at the Nanaimo Community Hospice Society. 

Although I must give myself credit for the hard work and dedication needed to pursue my aspirations, I can't help but admit that the source of my confidence has come from you. There is so much about life that I value: family, friends, shelter, opportunity...It is the sound of laughter, running water, and waving flags, however, that will always remind me of the gift that you have so graciously given me.

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When I see the way that my smile evolves in the reflection in the mirror, I think about the many faces behind the sound waves, tones, pitches, and melodies that I am able to hear. I am so privileged to know how this feels, I am so lucky to be healthy, and I am so thankful for the Elks. 

Caitlin Brockman


Each year, your donations and community fund-raising through Walk-a-thons, Giving Tuesday events and Lodge fundraising initiatives help 80 to 100 people just like Caitlin through the Elks and Royal Purple Fund for Children Personal Assistance Program. 

If there was any doubt about the level of impact that you as Elks have on others through your kindness and generosity, I believe Caitlin may have just erased it. 

#ElksProud

Why I'm Elks Proud

Written by Brother Cory Blair - Director, Member Services - Elks of Canada

After 11 years in the corporate world I decided to look for a different opportunity in my career journey. I have always wanted to gain experience working in a non-profit organization. Lots of people I talk to said I would be a great fit in a non-profit and I have always said I am just waiting for that opportunity.

I have been an Elks member since 2010 in my home community of Balgonie. I went to my first Elks meeting because my neighbor Darren asked me to come with him. His dad had been a member for a long time and they were looking for younger people to join. There were like 5 active members and those guys had been long serving Elks with 25 years plus. Well after listening in the meeting, having some food and a beer, I decided to join. It was really easy to join because not only was it an opportunity to hang out for a night a month with some new friends, it was an opportunity to give back and do something cool in my community.

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Over the course of the next couple years, more and more people form our town and surrounding towns became members. Most of everyone joining were on the age scale of under 40. We all have busy jobs, running around with our kids and other commitments. I always hear people say they are really busy or I am too busy to do stuff or volunteer. Well, that does not fly in our lodge. Yes we are busy but we make a commitment to do great things that help our kids and family in the community. That’s the bottom line. Helping people. If you can’t make time to help someone in your life then we value different things and you do not fit our culture.

Our Elks Lodge has grown to over 35 members. The “old boys “as we call them, love seeing younger people join. The funny thing is this would have not happened without them. They saw the need to change. They realized what they had built could be lost if they did not reach out and ask for help. Every event we put on they are smiling because they see the value in change and guess what? All of us respect the heck out of those guys. 

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Our family travels a lot with our kid’s sports teams. I am amazed to see how much the Elks and other service organizations give back to communities. Rinks, ball diamonds, parks and pools are just the stuff I see on my travels. All in operation because of fundraising and time by volunteering. I think people do not realize just how much service organizations help our kids and communities. For example, The Elks and Royal Purple Fund for Children assists with medical issues of kids primarily with hearing and speech issues. ACROSS EVERY PROVINCE AND TERRITORY…. HUNDREDS OF TIMES A YEAR!!!!!  It’s awesome. But we take it for granted. We need to understand that without these organizations and volunteers that a lot of the things we have in our communities would be extinct.

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So that is WHY I decided to work for the Elks. The opportunity presented itself and with some thinking and talking with my family I made the switch. Our organization does awesome things for people. Everyday. I now can have a direct impact on growing more of those awesome things and also telling the hundreds of stories of serving communities and families. We have an opportunity to grow our organization with new people and perspectives. We have the platform created to innovate our brand with #ELKSPROUD. I encourage everyone to stop and think about their community and what they have built. I bet volunteering has played a significant role and service groups have made a giant impact. My goal is for more people to join our organization and for our current members to tell their stories….This is just a small piece of my story. I made the career switch to make more of an impact with an organization I care deeply about. I am #ELKSPROUD.

It's us, and we're good

Written by Brother Harold Claffey - Moose Jaw Elks Lodge No. 7

I joined the Elks in 2007. I wanted something more in my life, more than work and church. A friend invited me to join. I became active in the Moose Jaw Lodge as soon as I joined, taking on Publicity Director and Webmaster, and I was elected Chaplain soon after.  In 2014 I was elected to the Sask. Provincial Executive, and I’m the Webmaster and Advertising Purchaser.

The Sask. Elks Association and Foundation has an advertising budget in the small five figures. I’m directing most of the funds to news-talk radio between 6 AM and 9 AM on weekdays. This is the best way to reach our target audience, working adults age 25-50. The format is a “hot call”, a 60 second recorded interview that sounds like a live interview when it’s aired. The challenge for me is to put together notes to use during the interviews to inspire people to learn more about us.

The following are notes I used to record four interviews to be aired in September on CJME and CKOM radio in Saskatchewan:

1)      Recruiting and General Information:

Now is a great time to check out the Elks. We’re getting back to work after the summer break. Come sit in on a meeting at your local Lodge. Talk with members after the meeting. Volunteer to work with us at an event or two before you join. Check us out.

We have 58 lodges across Saskatchewan from Allan to Wilkie. All are open to both men and women, age 16 and up. We’re becoming diversified. Our lodges are getting younger. There’s room for you. We just elected and installed our first woman National President, Deb Sallenback of Langley, BC.

We’re active in our communities, and we’re open to starting Lodges in other communities. We want to help you serve your community. And we want you to help us. We have websites and Facebook pages.

2)      Helping with Hearing Loss:

We are the Elks of Canada. We help hearing-impaired children and their families across Canada. In Saskatchewan, we heavily support SPARC, the children’s hearing centre in Saskatoon. Our National Fund for Children supports hearing centres and individual children across Canada. We help children with speech and hearing trouble.  Our Provincial Foundation supports individual’s medical needs across Saskatchewan.

We’re advocating for newborn hearing screening across the province. Hard of hearing children need to be diagnosed and helped quickly.  Come join us so we can help children together. Watching a child listen to birds singing or hearing their parent’s voice for the first time, and knowing you helped it happen, is a wonderful experience. We have websites and Facebook pages.

3)      Helping Your Community:

Our ProvincialPresident’s theme for the year is “Making a Positive Difference.” That’s our focus and purpose. We’re making a difference in communities, in the Province, and in Canada.

We’re community oriented. We are community people helping community people.

Across Saskatchewan, we’re rolling up our sleeves and working hard to make a positive difference. We do chili challenges, barbecues, community theatre, walkathons, catering, youth sports events, concession stands, meat draws, dances, banquets, potlucks, and many other local events. We string Christmas lights, participate in parades, help with Meals on Wheels, volunteer at tourist booths, organize Canada Day festivities, sell raffle tickets, cook barbecued meals for events, and generally help out. We have websites and Facebook pages.

4)      Helping You:

There’s something special about belonging to a community organization. By working with the same people event after event, year after year, we learn about each other’s strengths. We help each other become stronger. Individuals grow personally. We learn new skills. The Elks in your local lodge can help you learn how to feed large numbers of people, how to organize an event, how to participate in meetings, how to keep books, how to lead, how to work with others, how to be a part of your community. We help each other learn self-awareness and leadership skills. Come grow with us. We have websites and Facebook pages.


It’s us, and we’re good.

                                                            Harold Claffey, Moose Jaw Lodge No. 7

Gowns for Grads

Written by Sister Kelly Sanford, ER - Brooks Elks Lodge No. 77

Today, like every day I was racing around with a million things on my to do list and not enough time to achieve it all.  As I raced the clock, I ran into an old acquaintance.  I was half distracted as we exchanged hellos as old friends do, the basics really, the how are you, how’s the kids, what have you been up too.  He asked if I was still a member of the Elks, I said yes, I have been a member for 8 years now.  His next question stopped me in my tracks… he looked and me and asked “Why?”.  Shocked I looked at him and he said “I mean why do you spend all that time volunteering?  What have you accomplished?  What keeps you going?”  My head started spinning, what have I accomplished? Why do I spend countless hours working on projects?  What a complicated and loaded question!  I have accomplished being the first female District Deputy in District 13, and the first female ER of Brooks Elks 77, that’s something!  Or is it the festivals, and fishing derby’s that I have chaired?  Or is it my work on the Provincial Association especially with Publicity, maybe the changes I have been a part of with the National Marketing Committee?  Families I have been able to help? Meeting some of my best friends in the whole world?  Like I said, a very loaded question.  Then suddenly, my head stopped spinning and the answer was simple.  My proudest moment, a beautiful program called Gowns for Grads. 

What is Gowns for Grads you may ask, well it is simply A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.  Gowns for Grads is a project that was started by the Sherwood Parks Elks Lodge and with the help of Leonard and Barb Shain, Brooks Elks could open last year.  Gowns for Grads is best described as:  a no questions asked Elks project that provides like new, FREE, I repeat FREE, grad dressed (and suits) to graduates who can’t afford to purchase one.  Pretty cool eh?  you might ask yourself what makes it amazing, while that answer is simple.  It’s the look on a young lady’s face who comes in shy and unsure of herself and leaves with the dress of her dreams, feeling like a princess and her head held high.  It is the girl who never bought a ticket to prom because she couldn’t afford the dress but now she is able to go.  It is the moms who has the weight of the world lifted off her shoulders, because moms would give anything to make their daughters dreams come true but knew deep down they couldn’t.  it’s the dad who brings his daughter in for a princess dress, because all the family money is going towards his medical condition that they didn’t have extra to spare, but he knew that he would cherish every moment of the parent child dance with his princess cause the doctors told him that he wouldn’t make it to dance with her at her wedding.   it’s the smile, the tears, the thank you.

Besides being an amazing project, the concept itself is so simple.  Grads drop off their used grad dresses they wish to donate and you give them to those who need one.  Of course, there is a lot of man hours involved to make this possible, and of course you still need donations to run.  But this time you are not selling a raffle ticket to the public, it’s not looking for a donation for an auction, or a door prize, it’s not cooking, its simply collecting and paying it forward.  I must say that donations are surprisingly easy to come across for example a local real estate agency in Sherwood Park donated the Sherwood Park Gown Project a home, and Smith Group Holdings in Brooks gladly supplied Brooks with a home.  Girls realize that they can pay it forward and gladly donate their dresses, radio stations, newspapers, and television are more than happy to help get the word about the project out and it’s a win for everyone involved.

So, like I said in the beginning its A-M-A-Z-I-N-G

Lead with Awesome

Written by Brother Kevan McBeth, Executive Director - Elks of Canada

My wife Cheri owns a photography business here in Regina, and a few years ago she joined a Facebook group that connected her to people from across Canada and the US. Each year, these ladies get together at one of their houses and they spend the weekend visiting and taking photographs in different locations. This year, Cheri is hosting the event, so as of last night, we had guests from Oregon, Miami, Winnipeg, and Texas in our home.  I had never met any of these women before, so one of the first questions they had for me was "So Kevan. What do you do?"

I told them that I work for the Elks of Canada, an amazing fraternal organization that serves Canadian communities across the country and supports children through our national charity, the Elks and Royal Purple Fund for Children. Many of them had heard about the Elks from their interactions with the Elks in their own communities in the US and in Manitoba, and we talked about some really amazing things that the Elks have done in their communities, like supporting over 200 children in one community in Oregon who are so vulnerable at the moment, they can't afford to eat on the weekends - so the Elks provide them with food through a community food bank programs.

The funny thing is, that lately, I have been talking to a lot of people about the Elks and when I share what we do and how amazing some of the things our members are doing in the community, people are intrigued and want to know more. A couple of the people we talked to recently are even fired up enough that they want to start Lodges in their communities! How's that for awesome!!  
 

Changing the way that we talk about ourselves. 

But here's the problem- we don't always tend to lead with the "awesome" when we are out in public and people say "so what do you do?" or "how’s your Lodge doing?”. We tend to focus on some of the negatives that are happening around us. “Well….our membership is down.”, “We can’t seem to find enough volunteers.”, “We don’t have as many people as we used to”. These are all things that we hear ourselves say on a daily basis. In fact- if you Google Elks of Canada, and look at the newsfeed, you’ll see that the majority of the articles and pieces that feature Elks leaders in our communities, we talk about how we are “dwindling in numbers” or “just trying to survive”.

Now, I am not saying that this isn’t true- the truth is that our membership is lower than it was 20 years ago. We have lost some great Lodges along the way as well. And My guess is that, unfortunately, we will lose more in the coming years.
 

But is that the whole picture?

I certainly don't think so. In fact, when I talk with many of you, I hear the passion in your voices- I see the pride in your posture and the smiles on your faces when you talk about what's happening in your Lodges. But, I will admit, there are times when I have to wait a bit and hear about the things that are going wrong before I get to hear about all the things that are going right in your Lodges. 

We need to change that negative tone that we've been leading our conversations with, especially when it comes to representing ourselves our local communities, media and (especially) to potential members. As potential prospects of our Order, would you join a Lodge if what you heard was "our numbers are dwindling", or "We don't ever seem to have enough volunteers"? I think most people would run away as if their hair was on fire after that kind of pitch. 
 

Let's start to lead our conversations with awesome.

What if, instead of telling people the story of how our numbers may be getting smaller, we do something different. We lead with how awesome the members we have are. We lead our conversations with some of the amazing stories that we have about local Lodges doing incredible things for their communities. How about we start our conversations with the fact that we donate millions of dollars to children with hearing disabilities and the provincial programs that support them? We need to start leading our conversations with our Awesome.
 

Show them what it means to be Elks Proud. 

This is why we started the Elks Proud movement- to get us all re-focusing our thoughts and our actions behind what is really important. About WHY we are all here.

When we have a chance to share who we are, what we do and why we do it, share with people your stories, like the ones that we've shared recently on social media. Give people a glimpse into the pride and passion that you have for your organization. Speak to people about the things that get you excited about being an Elk. Show them that and the rest will take care of itself. 

And when we start to do that as an entire Order, we’ll begin to feel that sense of pride in our Lodges and ourselves, and that pride will spill over into our communities and attract those friends and colleagues to the Lodge. When we lead with awesome, I promise you – more awesome will follow.

 

The Climb Starts Today

Written by Brother Kevan McBeth, Executive Director- Elks of Canada

As usual, the month of July was a crazy one for Grand Lodge, culminating in yet another great Convention in Langley, where we saw the installation of our very first female Grand Exalted Ruler, Sister Deb Sallenback. If you haven't had a chance to check out some of the photos and news articles of the event, I would encourage you to check out the Elks of Canada Facebook page for some of the coverage from the event

As there is every year, there is always a renewed sense of optimism within the delegates that were present about the future direction of the Order, but I have to say - there was something else happening this year in the air that gave people a greater level of excitement than there normally does. There was a real sense of pride and accomplishment within the membership present,  and a feeling of something that we haven't felt in a while....optimism. 

Just listen to many of our members talk about what it means to be an Elk in the National Convention 2017 Recap video below. You can hear the pride and optimism in their voices as they share their stories....

That optimism wasn't just created out of thin air- it was something that we as an Order have been working on for a while now, but came to a head in some of our pre-convention meetings and conversations with our Provincial Presidents, our Grand Executive team and even in the future leaders of the Order who were present for the Leadership Training program during the pre-convention sessions (many of whom stayed and participated in the Convention proceedings by the way).


We have been in a state of change for 15 years

Its been a long time coming for us. We have come through a long and painful change process through at least the last 10 years, but from what I have been told we may have been experiencing the negative effects of change for as many as 15 years.

In the corporate world,  a change processes within a company looks like the description below. The decision to make an initial change actually starts off with a lot of optimism and excitement, but once the realization of the difficulty that is associated with the change sets in, engagement starts to drop, and drop fast, until people eventually either completely check out, or they leave. 


The Valley of Tears

This drop actually has a name- people call it the Valley of Tears - a place where organizations that are trying to make meaningful change tend to get stuck. A place where pessimism and dissension starts to take over and the finger pointing starts to happen. A place where organizations tend to focus and accentuate the negative, further driving down the engagement of their people. A place, where sadly, some organizations never recover from. 

Truth be told, this is where we as an Order have been sitting for some time now.  We have been stuck in the Valley of Tears, focusing our efforts on trying to keep our members from leaving, and keeping some of our Lodges and members from creating internal conflict. We've accentuated the negative of our Order, and we've lost many of our members because of it. We'd lost perspective of why we are here. 

The good news is that there is a way to climb out of the Valley of Tears, through hopeful realism- a realization and re-focusing of who we are, what we do and why we do it. 

The crazy thing is this- as Elks, we continue to amazing things in communities across Canada, helping thousands of children and their families who need someone in their corner when their struggles are too large for them to tackle, and support vital programs that without us, may cease to exist altogether. 
 

Our Climb out of the valley of tears starts now

The climb has already started, we just haven't been talking about it. We haven't shared it widely with a sense of pride. We haven't been optimistic about our future. But in order for us to get to that level of discovery and hope to rise above the level of engagement that we need to GROW our membership rather than lose members year over year, we need to change the way that we talk about ourselves. We need to celebrate the work that is being done and open our eyes to the amazing work that our people are doing around us. 
 

It's time to start telling our stories

That feeling of optimism that we were all feeling at Convention? We can't allow it to die after we all leave the Gala Dinner in Langley - we have to be committed to taking that optimism and spreading it across the organization. We need everyone to start to feel the pride and excitement that we were feeling a few weeks back, and if they are already feeling it, we need them to share it with others too! 

Our problem is, at times, we are our own worst enemy when it comes to proudly showing others our accomplishments. We are kind, but also humble. That humility tends to manifest itself in being lower-key when it comes to celebrating our accomplishments at times. 

But if we are uncomfortable in blowing our own horns, nobody else is going to do it either. We need to stop feeling as though celebrating loudly our accomplishments is something that is boastful. It isn't boastful. It's being proud of who we are. 

At Grand Lodge, we are going to be spending a considerable amount of time telling your stories this year- sharing some of the great things that are happening in Lodges across Canada and giving you all the recognition and kudos you deserve as members. It's one of the reasons why we started this blog, so we can get more information out to you in a more timely fashion.

We're also going to be more diligent in sharing some of those stories that somehow get lost in the shuffle when it comes to the impact of your kindness through the Elks and Royal Purple Fund for Children. We need to bring back the concept of being Elks Proud and help us all realize that what we have here is not only worth maintaining, but growing and building for the future. 

Over the next little while, I hope that you will get involved by telling your own stories, sharing your pride with your fellow Elks, but also the world at large. We need to stop being the best-kept secret in the world and start being the best-known place for people to belong to. 

Our climb starts now. And it starts with the efforts of each and every one of us. Together we can do some pretty incredible stuff. 

Let's do this.