I am what survives of me

Written by Sister Meghan Pollard, Fort Saskatchewan Elks No. 399

“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments,
but what is woven into the lives of others.” Pericles

If you look up ‘legacy’ in the dictionary you will see a few different meanings. One is a gift of money or property. Another is something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past. If you ask your friends or family what family legacy means to them, you may get a different answer from each of them. To some, it means their family genealogy and history. To others, it may be a list of things that they have accomplished in their lives. Things like values or life lessons that were handed down to them by their parents or grandparents, like a set of character traits or skills.  In other words, family legacy usually means the accomplishments, beliefs, actions and guidance you demonstrate in your lives that carry forward to future generations in a fashion which allow those family members to adopt and adapt them to make their lives meaningful and fruitful. Seems super simple right?

But building a family legacy isn’t just about “stuff”, its about building something that lives on through the generations. So how do you make your legacy come alive in a tangible way? Sometimes it’s as simple as asking yourself a few simple questions. Who are you? What are your beliefs, values, traditions and experiences?  What do you hope to give back? And the biggest one for me, what are your charitable community and mentoring activities?

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I come from a HUGE family of volunteers, men and women who have shaped my sense of community and drive to make my small corner of the world a better place for everyone while giving back. My Grandparent’s instilled within our family a sense of community spirit. They taught my Dad and my Uncle who in turn passed it on to the children who watched closely and listened intently.  We saw their deeds go with unspoken acknowledgement, sometimes with a hug or a smile, often time tears. It taught me to look past the needing to be seen for my actions to wanting to do them even if no one other than myself knew that I did it.

I have a unique perspective when it comes to the Elks, so many of my childhood memories are Elks related. How many kids do you know can say their Grandfather used to sit in for Santa. I remember my Dad in his whites heading out the door for Patrol Team competitions, installations, meetings, inter lodge visits, Remembrance Day, and Parades. My weekends were spent running around with my cousins at ball tournaments and BBQ’s or picnic’s. I watched my Grandfather curl at Bonspiel’s or play in dart tournaments and attended many dances and anniversaries over the decades. All these memories centered around the belief that giving back brought you so much in return, the comraderies and friendships that were created by helping just one single person made your life that much sweeter.

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I was taught by example to take what was important to me and teach it to someone else, whether that was cooking or knitting or volunteering my time to listen to someone and hold their hand for a moment. I volunteered my time as a student in high school with Robin Hood and special needs students and at a senior’s center in the tuck shop and eventually, once I’d graduated from high school, decided on nursing as a step. So, I became a nurse for a time, for over 10 years I dedicated my life to helping others through my touch and my heart. Then, in 2004, I became a mother for the first time and I learned of the sacrifices that a parent makes for their children, all of them I would do again in a heartbeat. I learned what being a special needs mother means and watched how my children changed my world and how they changed the

world around them. I learned how to be humble and ask for help, even when I thought I was too proud to admit I needed it. I also learned how to see past the hurt and into the hearts of those that needed the help but didn’t have the heart left to ask anymore, too tired and disheartened to know what to do anymore. It was there, during some of my darkest days, that I found some of my passion and my voice began to get louder.

I began to evaluate how I wanted my life to touch others, how did I want to change my world? What did I have in me to give back and how? Essentially, I was back to those small questions of who am I and what are my beliefs? I knew I wanted to help, I was a helper by nature. Well I also had a voice; so how could I use that to help? It seems that the people most influential in my life helped me find my voice. Some of you may be surprised but I am the shy one in my family, I know it’s SHOCKING!

I was never pressured into joining the Elks by anyone in my family, it was always just presented as an option. My Uncle Gordon asking if I was interested, usually about once or twice a year. In July 2013 my Dad, Jim McLeod, became the Grand Exalted Ruler of the Elks of Canada, and I decided to join as an official member of the Elks of Canada. In November of 2013 I joined the Fort Saskatchewan Elks Lodge #399 as their first female member. My Uncle Gordon was my sponsor that night and my Dad did my official obligation. I hit the ground running and I’m sure my fellow members are still wondering what whirlwind had blown through their doors. I found my voice in 2014 when I joined the National Membership Committee and began to enact change within the organization at a national level. The Elks has helped me grow in so many ways. Being able to connect personally and professionally with so many and help families across Alberta and Canada makes me proud to be a member of such an amazing organization.

I firmly believe that this would not have been possible without the strong family roots that I have formed around the Elks of Canada, roots that tied me to a strong foundation and helped me to develop my sense of self. It helped me to shape the idea of how I could leave my mark on anything that I did. From something as small as holding open the door for the person behind me to planning a BBQ to fundraise for a community project. I know that I want my life to matter and for it to touch at least one person beyond myself before I am done with this life.

It is said that when Robin Williams died, Steve Martin called him "a mensch." I never met him but can only surmise that everyone that met him probably considered Robin Williams to be a very funny man and amazingly kind. Mr. Martin calling him a mensch is the greatest of eulogies because a mensch is a person who is “decent and honorable, a person of high integrity who has genuine caring for his fellow man”. A mensch always looks for an opportunity to do good in life, to be of help to others and to give without regard for anything in return. A mensch doesn't cut corners in their relationships with people. You always feel safe in the presence of a mensch because you instinctively know that they will not deceive you, undermine you or diminish you in any way.

That is the Legacy I want to leave behind when I am gone from this earth, that is what I want my children, friends and those closest to me to say, that I “always looked for an opportunity to do good in life, to be of help to others and to give without regard for anything in return”. That to me is #ElksProud.                                                                                                                           

Sister Meghan Pollard
Fort Saskatchewan Elks Lodge #399
Member Services Committee

Thank you!

Written by Meagan Daumont - Winner of 99' Elks and Royal Purple Literary and Poster Contest

In 1999, I wrote a winning entry essay in the Elks and Royal Purple Literary and Poster contest.  At the time I was a shy, introverted 13 year old who loved to write and express myself creatively.  I can honestly say that I do not remember what I wrote about, or how the opportunity made its way into my life.  However, I can tell you that after 19 years, I have come across my Certificate of Merit and am extremely surprised as to what this means to me now. 

The years following this essay contest, I had grown out of my shyness, began to socialize and moved away from creativity such as writing and music.  I spent many years preparing to become a nurse followed by many years in college studying to become one.  I successfully completed the Licensed Practical Nursing program, then decided to complete my Bachelor of Science in Nursing to become a Registered Nurse.  Needless to say, I was writing a substantial amount of papers during these years, however, they were all academic.  I was no longer fulfilling that desire to write as an expression of who I am.  I graduated the BScN program in April, 2016 and proceeded to start training for my dream job as a Neonatal Nurse just 4 days after leaving the classroom.

During my last year in nursing school, I began experiencing challenges with my left ear.  Hearing sounded muffled, it was hard to hear in noisy environments, and I had a constant ringing that grew louder each day.  I didn’t pay much attention to it and attributed the hearing changes to a potential infection and continued on with my studies.  Overtime, the hearing loss was worsening.  I remember having to go in the hallway while working on group assignments as attempting to communicate with others in a loud room was too much to handle.  I also had severe, debilitating headaches and had changes to the sensation of the left side of my face.  Overtime, the entire left side of my face was numb so much to the point that eating and drinking became troublesome.  I finally saw a doctor who told me there was no sign of infection and sent me to an ENT specialist soon after.

I didn’t want to make a big deal about what I was experiencing, perhaps I was in denial, but I spent my energy focusing on my education and career as I waited for a head MRI.  I graduated, started my job, and kept my health concerns to myself.  However, it didn’t take long for certain events to occur that would force me to slow down and may more attention.  Not even 24 hours after writing my national board exam for nursing, I was side-swiped off the highway by a massive semi-truck.  I was sore head to toe for months, and my body insisted that I rest and rehabilitate before going back to work.  It was hard for me to relax knowing that I had just started my career and was eager begin my life.  However, I kept telling myself that this would only be temporary, that I would be back in action in no time.  As I was off recovering, I ended up getting a call from the MRI department stating there was an opening and asked if I could come for my scan.

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On August 26, 2016, I went in for a head MRI to investigate why I was experiencing hearing loss and other symptoms.  I was told to remain as still as possible, however I could not stop shaking.  As I got out of the scan, I could tell something was wrong based on the expression of the techs face.  I collected my belongings, cried the whole way home, and waited for the call that ultimately came in 2 days’ time.

“We have your MRI results and the doctor wants to see you as soon as possible”

When you hear those words, you know that can’t be good.  And so, I waited two long days for my results and paced back and forth in my living room experiencing significant anxiety. 

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I went to the appointment with my mom and was given news that ultimately changed my life forever.  I was diagnosed with a large tumour called an Acoustic Neuroma, which arises on the 8th cranial nerve.  Although non-malignant and slow growing, these tumours have the ability to impede many cranial nerves and the brain stem, causing symptoms such as hearing loss, balance issues, headaches, loss of facial sensation, facial paralysis, double vision and more.  I was in complete shock and was told I would have to see two more specialists, another ENT and a neurosurgeon.

How could everything in my life come together so fast and fall apart even quicker?  I spent the following weeks attempting to work again.  However, I was still experiencing significant pain from the truck accident and my anxiety was impeding my ability to concentrate.  I ended up taking a medical leave from work as I waited for surgery and started to feel depressed because I felt I had lost a sense of who I was as a nurse.  It was supposed to be a happy time, but I was living in fear and grief. 

I wasn’t used to having free time such as this and I didn’t know how to spend my days.  In the back of my mind I was always thinking “maybe I should start a blog”, perhaps that would be a positive coping mechanism.  One evening in November, 2016, I sat down and decided to do just that.  I started writing about my journey with hearing loss and how it was impacting my life.  I documented my feelings, my fears and made a point of always writing about the positive aspects that were embedded within the struggle.  I wrote for months and proceeded to connect with thousands of people from across the globe.  Many were going through the same experience I was.  Some were further along, some were just diagnosed, and all connections were valuable in some way.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was just like that creative little girl again, hiding from the world but expressing myself through writing.

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On February 14, 2017, I underwent a 10-hour brain surgery at Vancouver General Hospital.  The team of surgeons removed my entire tumour.  And with it, I lost all of my hearing in my left ear and my balance as well.  It took several weeks of re-training, but I eventually gained my balance back.  However, I will not gain hearing back in my left ear as the nerve is completely dead.  The tinnitus is profound and severe and I have had many challenges with my hearing over the past year.  But, I do make a point of being grateful as I still have perfect hearing in my right ear and I believe I could have been worse off in many ways.   I use CROS hearing aids and an FM system at times.  Noisy environments cause anxiety, and so I live a simple and mindful lifestyle, quite opposite than my busy life before.  I enjoy daily meditation, prayer, yin yoga, gratitude and nature.  In fact, I believe I had to lose my balance physically to learn how to live a more balanced life.  And, I had to lose half of my hearing to learn how to listen to the voice within, the one that I ignored for so many years. 

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Recently I came across my certificate for winning that essay contest in 1999.  And although it may seem insignificant, it is rather the opposite.  I looked up Elks and Royal Purple only to discover that this organization is dedicated to help children who have speech and hearing disabilities.  The beautiful mystery of life: I wrote and won an essay for this organization years before I knew I would lose my hearing.  The very event in my life that encouraged me to come back to writing was in fact hearing loss.  I was extremely excited when I realized this coincidence and couldn’t wait to reach out.

Although life was challenging for some time, today I am doing better than I ever have been.  I have decided to take my nursing practice and merge it with coaching to be able to create a program that enables individuals who experience illness/trauma/change to re-build their life when they are ready.  I am taking this experience and using it to help others as I believe that story sharing and helping others are key ingredients to a happy life. 

Thank you Elks of Canada for sharing my story and for helping as many people as you do!

To Fundraise or to Not Fundraise

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Written by Alissa Hill - Charities Coordinator, Elks of Canada

Fundraising: noun
             “the activity of collecting money for a charity or organization,
                                                             often by organizing social events or entertainments”

It may seem obvious why raising funds for a cause is so important, but sometimes it can be unclear. Most people think that fundraising requires a lot of energy, time and resources, but it doesn’t always have to. The internet has opened up so many options for those seeking to raise awareness. Through avenues such as crowdfunding and social media we can reach more people, faster than ever before!  Instead of calling up or mailing pledge sheets across the country you can share a crowdfunding site on your Facebook page and ask your family, friends and colleagues all at once for support with one simple click of a button.

But the question is, as a member of The Elks of Canada, why should YOU be interested in fundraising? When you become an Elks member you are choosing to be a part of an organization that is more than the sum of its parts. You become a vital piece in a larger mission, vison, and goal. You get a chance to work towards an end goal that benefits us all – positive change in our communities and across Canada.

1.       Build community unity and engagement

By fundraising you encourage your communities to come together for a great cause. Working together builds trust and relationships with your community, (plus, it’s a lot of fun!). The more people you are able to activate to participate in your fundraiser the more awareness you raise for your’ cause!

2.       Raise funds for your lodge to have more community impact and investments.

Each lodge contributes many resources that are monetary as well as volunteer hours towards the growth of their individual communities. Many lodges are able to help fund local initiatives such as building a new community center or park. The math is simple, the more funds your’ able to raise, the more you have available to grow your communities or help those in need!

3.       Increase funds available for local child personal assistance

Not only do lodges help unify their communities, The Elks also provide funding for children when their families are unable to financially support their medical needs. Lodges, when possible, fund children in their communities, paying for things such as hearing aids, medical equipment, medical travel costs and more. This increases community ties, and unity. YOU change the lives of these children in need. When you fundraise, you increase your ability to reach and help more children in your local areas.

4.       Have a national impact through Elks & Royal Purple Fund for Children, your national charity.

When your lodge makes generous contributions to your national charity, Elks & Royal Purple Fund for Children, you extend your lodges arm to a national platform. You are able to change the lives of children with hearing and speech disorder across Canada. Not only do you help these children in need, but YOU fund programs that support communication health across the country.

Starting a fundraiser by either planning an event, or through an online platform can seem like a daunting task. What will we do? How do we get people to show up? How much will this cost us? I promise you that there are many different fundraising avenues that will fit your lodge’s unique community demographic, budget, and level of energy and time you are wanting to invest. If you need support with planning or starting a fundraiser, if you are interested in doing more to raise money but aren’t sure where to start contact your Charities Coordinator!

Alissa Hill
Charities Coordinator
P: 306-359-9010 ext. 231
E: ahill@elksofcanada.ca

I am available through the office phone Tuesday-Friday- 8am-4pm. Please email for immediate response outside these times.

With Appreciation

Written by Brother Michael Hutchison - Ontario Elks Association

Thank you on behalf of all the families we support across Canada.

It seemed to begin when we were in New York State at a family campground. Our youngest son Alexander suddenly became violently ill and his chubby little cheeks turned white. This lasted for a few minutes until he had nothing left in his belly. My wife quickly rushed him to the Urgent care clinic where he was diagnosed initially with a bout of what they thought was the flu – but to get him home and checked again by our family doctor. The next day we made the 8 hours trip home only to have Alex again become ill in the same manner as the previous day and end up in our local hospital for the next day. This continued over the next 30 days with 6-7 additional hospital visits, tests, blood work, and doctor and pediatrician appointments. The doctors told us that they wereplanning on sending us to Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto or Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) in Ottawa for a brain scan.

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As you can appreciate the next few months of additional tests, additional hospital visits for the same symptoms and doctors’ appointments continued while we waited to get him in. This was all proving to be a traumatic experience for us as parents and Alexander as 20 month old little boy. One of our Pediatricians suggested that we have Alex tested prior to any more evasive tests for allergy and tolerances to certain items. We booked the appointment and a few weeks later we proceeded to make the 2.5 hour drive for an immediate appointment with one of the top rated clinics for babies and toddlers with potential or recurring allergic reactions.   

By now he was 23 months old and the testing proved that Alex was deathly allergic to Peanuts, and had further significant reactions to milk and eggs. These tests were follow by referrals for extensive blood testing and profiling in Toronto and continue today with further testing.   While the outcome was sad it is a manageable situation – and we are comfortable with the information and moving forward. We appreciate that for many the results we received while impactful in Alex’s life, they are not the same results that too many young children in our home communities receive, many receive much worse diagnosis’s.

Now I write this story not for any sympathy, but to say thank you to the members of the Elks of Canada. Fortunately our family was able to take time off work, travel to the appointments and afford the costs of his care – while so many families cannot. While in the waiting room for the tests in Barrie and also in the waiting room in Toronto there were families that mentioned to us that they had received support from other not-for-profit organizations to get their kids to their appointments or else they may not have been able to bring them. The appreciation for these organization genuine because like Alex some of these kids were facing life threatening allergies that a not-for-profit played a role in the care of the child by enabling the family to attend the appointment through financial support. It was a real eye opener that these parents were so open with their ordeal and to have kids in similar situations, more importantly to see the work so many not-for-profit organizations do in our communities and families directly impacted.     Too many people do not have the resources to care for their most precious resource – their children when a dramatic situation arises – and our lodges along with other not-for-profit organizations are there to lend a hand and help them in their journey of caring for their children.  Going through this ordeal gave me so much appreciation for the work we do for children.

So I will end in the same way I started. Thank you on behalf of the all the families you have supported across Canada – you make a difference.

The Elks Proud Awards

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

Launching soon is the Elks Proud Awards!  These awards have been created as a sign of recognition to you, our awesome members. There are 4 awards that will make the journey across our great order. The fun part of these awards is that they are given to you for being an awesome Elk by another awesome Elk. The purpose of these awards are peer to peer recognition.

If you get the Elks Proud Award, you get to keep it for about two weeks.  After that, you get to pass it on to another member that makes you #ElksProud.  It does not have to stay within your own lodge.  The award is encouraged to travel in your district, province and across the country.

We also want to hear why you are giving a fellow member the award.   Take pictures and tell the Order why the person is so awesome in a small story!  You will have instructions on where to send the stories and pictures if you receive the award.

There will be a page on the national website telling the stories of the recipients and why they are deserving of being #ElksProud.

I look forward to seeing where these purple awards go and the stories of pride they bring.

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask!

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Cory Blair – Director Member Services

How to climb a mountain with big dreams

Written by Brother Maurice Koszman - Saskatchewan Elks Association

In the more than 105 years since our inception, the Elks and the Royal Purple Elks have been involved in many projects designed with the vision of helping our communities grow and thrive.

As you know the Elks and Royal Purple Fund for Children is our National Foundation and allows us to help thousands of children in communities across Canada. At home and in our communities, on a more personal level, the Elks and Royal Purple have built ice rinks, town and fire halls, helped build parks and lend financial support to families and individuals who faced personal difficulties.

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In Saskatchewan there is one project whereby an entire region of the province saw the combined benefits of the Elks and Royal Purple taking on a single fund-raiser.

In 1996 three individuals took up the challenge to equip the Tri-District area of Saskatchewan with a satellite Dialysis unit.

Lynn Dutell, Herb Voight and Jean Wolz, members of Star City and the Nipawin Saskatchewan Elks and Royal Purple in the region, were pivotal to move this project beyond just talk at a meeting, to “Let’s make this happen now”. There had been a great deal of discussion among members who said a unit in their region was vital to the continued care of patients in the region. Many members of their respective lodges had helped friends and family who required dialysis, often travelling long distances from home for treatments which took upwards of 4-8 hours to complete, in all kinds of weather. Their community and fellow members agreed that there was a need, but until these three took up the leadership, it was all talk. Together they formed a committee to begin to make this a reality for the region.

The first step for the committee was to get approval from Saskatchewan Health and a confirmation that if the funds were raised in full, a dialysis unit would be built in the Tisdale Hospital. The Tisdale location was identified as being the most centralized hospital for patients to travel to and would service those patients in the Tri-District Region.  The region routinely sees patients from Prince Albert, Nipawin, Kelvington and Wadena areas as well as Hudson Bay.

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Satellite Dialysis Unit

The committee was informed by Saskatchewan Health that the unit would cost an estimated $180,000 and the committee determined that would be their initial goal for fundraising efforts.

So now that they had approval, where do they begin? The individual lodges of Elks District 1, and Royal Purple District 3 were brought in on the project and began the task of contacting neighbouring communities who did not have “Purple” lodges. This was done not just by written correspondence but also by face to face meetings with members by the host committee travelling to speak to the lodges in person about the needs for the fund and their goal. It was felt that by personally requesting support from the lodges that funding would follow as well as helping spread the word that the unit was a needed asset for the region.

In November 1997, the Nipawin Elks opened the fundraising with a $20,000 donation to get things started. Renovations and installation of equipment began in earnest. Over the next four months, other service clubs, individuals, businesses and corporations were contacted and presented the option of being donors to the project, many of them donated and helped steam roll the project forward. Money began coming in from sources who had heard of the project through media sources and word of mouth and wanted to help.

In April 1998 the first patient was treated in the new satellite unit. No that's not a typo --- four months after their plan began Tisdale hospital was treating their first dialysis patient, success had been achieved!

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In June 1999 the unit expanded allowing the treatment of 6 patients in the Tisdale unit and Twenty years later the unit treats an average of 12 people a day. This has been a momentous achievement for the region. Patients are now able to receive treatments close to home, under the guidance of trained medical professionals, without the need to travel extended distances for care. Today the unit operates three days per week, serving about a dozen patients from the area who previously had to travel to Regina or Saskatoon for treatment.

This information is given not to say that the Elks and Royal Purple were the only ones that could have done this project. But it is designed to say that without the leadership provided by three of our members, it might not have happened. Any project of any size is accomplished only because someone takes it upon themselves to become the driving force. That is what Elks and Royal Purple members have done for over 100 years; become leaders!

Maurice Koszman
Saskatchewan Elks Association

Can your baby hear you?

Written by Alissa Hill - Charities Coordinator, Elks of Canada

Hearing and communication is vital to the development of each child, did you know that newborn hearing screening is not available to all babies in Canada?

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In general, most hospitals only screen high risk babies for hearing loss, however, over 50% of all babies with hearing loss show no high risk factors. In the first few hours of life your baby will go through a variety of health tests and checks, such as the APGAR which checks the infant’s heart rate, color, and reflex. The hospital will also test for several different health conditions, enzyme deficiency and much more within a 48hour period of birth. A hearing test is a simple, painless test that can be performed by a nurse or doctor, yet it is not a mandatory examination.

It can be difficult, especially in the early years of life to tell if a baby has a hearing disorder (without, a simple test performed by trained professional) this means that you’d likely be unable to tell if your child was having issues with hearing, and therefore could go the first months or years without being able to hear before you’d be able to detect an issue. Usually what ends up indicating a hearing disorder becomes issues in communication development which sets off a red flag for a hearing issue.

Extended periods of hearing or speech impairment can escalate into serious developmental issues if gone untreated, affecting brain development and sensory skills. The reality is that hearing loss can result in language, academic, cognitive, social and emotional challenges if it isn’t caught early enough.

Emily’s Story:

Emily was diagnosed with moderate hearing loss at 18 months old. Emily continued to be behind in her speech and language development even with the initial hearing aids her parents invested in. The family eventually found out that Emily’s hearing loss was progressive, and severe. Elks & Royal Purple Fund for Children was able to help Emily’s family pay for high power hearing aids that would better suit her severe hearing loss. Since that time Emily’s progress with speech and language has skyrocketed. The advanced hearing aids allow Emily to communicate effectively, and hear even slight sounds and noises which in turn accelerated her speech and language development.

If made mandatory, hearing screening could catch issues early on so that infants could get the equipment and support they need to hear properly, which would help prevent development delays and/or issues in young children.

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(Hearing and Speech milestone check from SAC – Speech-Language Audiology Canada)

Elks & Royal Purple Fund for Children provide personal assistance to children under 19 years of age so they can access the medical equipment they need such as hearing aids, speech therapy, conversion vans and more! Funding is also provided by the charity to programs across the country that assist children with hearing disorders such as VOICE, SPARC, ISTAR and BC Family Hearing Clinic. Royal Purple Fund for Children also contribute funding to the research of hearing loss and prevention.

For Charity Inquiries:
Alissa Hill
Charities Coordinator
ahill@elksofcanada.ca

CLICK THE BANNER ABOVE TO DONATE TO THE FUND FOR CHILDREN TODAY!

The Gift of Mentorship

Written by Sister Rheina Schellenberg - Altona Elks No. 447

Our Elks organization is in the midst of change.  We all know that.  We have been around for over 100 years and through the years we continue to do great things in our community.  As a member of our national member services committee, I wanted to share my experience dealing with change and why our lodge have become very Elks Proud.

Rendal Giesbrecht is 35 years my senior. He has been a long term member (over 40 years in Elks) including Past MB President. Rendal has been like a father-figure to me in my Elk family.  He has mentored and guided me in my leadership development, especially in my 5 years as exalted ruler.

I have leaned on him numerous times, seeking advice and words of wisdom.  If I ever wanted to discuss an issue, had a concern or could have done something better, it was discussed after the meeting in private.  I was never made to feel stupid, judged or embarrassed in front of fellow Elk members.  These discussions with Rendal went both ways; tossing ideas around, offering advice and making suggestions, all the while teaching me the history of the Elks.  These discussions happened whenever we would meet uptown, after a meeting or at each other’s homes and he often made me think and process situations so that I could come up with the solution.  Rendal had my back during my term as ER; he supported my decisions and always made himself available. He was never too busy to talk. His mentorship, guidance and teachings have created a trusted friendship between us.  He was my nominator for both my terms on the MB Foundation and my most recent position on the MB Association, encouraging me to grow and challenge myself.

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Rendal wants to keep the integrity and identity of Elkdom in our home Lodge, a good balance of new ideas and technology without forgetting about what defines us as Elks.

I have never heard him say the words “we’ve already tried that once and it didn’t work”.  Instead he supports the idea and offers his time and energy to help out.  There is no such thing as a bad idea. He encourages the newer members to speak up and supports their ideas.

He guides the lodge in a calm, respectful manner, always watching and listening.

Rendal has strengthened the Altona lodge by keeping a positive outlook on future goals, encouraging new ideas and supporting members.  We have grown as a Lodge and have become like family, enjoying get-togethers outside of Elks functions and developing friendships. 

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This only makes us stronger as a lodge and offers a good foundation for upcoming years.  The goal for all Lodges across Canada should be to mentor the newer members, “bridge the gap”, teach and support each other in a respectful manner.  This not only strengthens us as people but helps us grow as an organization for continued success. 

If there is not strong leadership, we simply do not change.  I ask you all to reflect on the future of your lodge and why you exist.  I ask you to look at what you as a lodge can do to attract new members and share that knowledge that is entrenched.  Rendal has been such an integral part of my life and the growth of our lodge. His influence is something to be proud of and we are grateful he has shared his leadership with us.

“A great relationship is about 2 things, first, find out the similarities, second, respect the differences.”

The Price of Sound

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Written by Alissa Hill - Charities Coordinator, Elks of Canada

As I sit in The French Press café on Albert St in Regina I am struck by the rhythm in sound of a classic coffee shop scene one might expect to hear on a Monday afternoon…

I close my eyes and I can hear the grind and churn of coffee beans, accompanied by the tempting aroma, chatter from the couple next to me, soft music chirping effervescently. What a joy it is to be able to order my cappuccino and scone with ease, to enjoy the serenity that comes with the comfort of certainly sounds provides. What is constant in our life is easy to take for granted, and difficult to imagine that we would ever be without it. Hearing is a privilege.

There are many people in the world who have never heard anything nor ever will and their other senses such as feel, sight and taste elevate to enjoy a beautiful world in a different way than sounds provide. However, this isn’t to say that to have a hearing disorder doesn’t pose its challenges.

Tasks as simple as attending class, going through the grocery till or ordering a cappuccino at your favorite café can be intimidating, and challenging.

As a child attending elementary school I always had challenges learning math. When I had trouble, or didn’t understand the teacher I could simply ask and receive guidance. However, I can only imagine how much more discouraging school in general, let alone difficult subjects would quickly transform if my hearing were impaired. This silent prison of frustration, and defeat is a reality for many children across Canada. On average hearing aids for a child in Canada can cost anywhere from $1,500 – $5,000 and there are many children who sit in the same classroom as your child who face the obstacle of hearing challenges because their parents are unable to access the coverage or funding to provide their child with the gift of sound.

 Submitted by Personal Assistance Recipient

Submitted by Personal Assistance Recipient

For most children with hearing impairments, hearing aids are the simple solution that take them from hearing half the point to hearing sentences crisply and fully. I can imagine how frustrating it would be to have a solution at the tip of your finger, yet have that glimmering of a chance at evening the playing field dissolved because you are unable to find funding.  In the grand scheme of life, is money not irrelevant to determine someone’s access to basic human rights and healthcare? Not only do hearing aids provide the very basic human right to communication, they give a child confidence. The facts speak loud and clear, on average, a child with mild to moderate hearing loss achieve 1-4 levels lower than their peers with normal hearing.

Parent’s number one priority is to provide their children with as many opportunities and the best start at a good life as they can. Not everyone is working on an equal playing field, and that is why as a community we come together to ensure the success of ALL of our children and society as a whole.

If your son’s friend needed a ride home from basketball practice because his parents were home un-expectantly sick would you give them a lift or would you let the 10 year old walk home alone at 10pm at night? The answer seems simple and that’s why when you’re asked to donate to Elks & Royal Purple Fund for Children the answer is also simple. What would humanity be if we didn’t look out for one another? After all, as easily as a roll of dice you could be the one who doesn’t have the ability to buy hearing aids for your child. Our circumstance in life is often set by a series of events, and is sometimes demined by fate. We can make the world an inclusive place to live, where every child has a chance at a bright, healthy, and happy future.

Elks & Royal Purple Fund for Children provide personal assistance to children under 19 years of age so they can access the medical equipment they need such as hearing aids, speech therapy, conversion vans and more! Funding is also provided by the charity to programs across the country that assist children with hearing disorders such as VOICE, SPARC, ISTAR and BC Family Hearing Clinic. Royal Purple Fund for Children also contribute funding to the research of hearing loss and prevention.

For volunteer opportunities:
Alissa Hill
Charities Coordinator
ahill@elksofcanada.ca

       CLICK THE BANNER ABOVE TO DONATE TO THE FUND FOR CHILDREN TODAY

     CLICK THE BANNER ABOVE TO DONATE TO THE FUND FOR CHILDREN TODAY

The Gift of Giving

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Written by Kevan McBeth- Executive Director, Elks of Canada

When I applied for the position of Executive Director of the Elks of Canada, I remember reading something when I researched the Order. It was a quote from the Kinsmen that read: 

The standard story of Canadian Service Clubs is that the Rotary have all the money, the Elks do the most work, and the Kinsmen have the most fun.
— Kinsmen 75th History Book

Now clearly whoever wroth the quote has never seen Leonard Shain and Duane Felt play air guitar at Convention, but I didn't come here to debate the validity of the comment, but they do have one thing right - the Elks are the hardest-workin' group around, especially when it comes to support for our national charity, the Elks and Royal Purple Fund for Children, and the impacts that the charity has on those in need. 

 We help young children like Emily and her family pay for hearing aids that help her hear, for sure, but more importantly, help her be a kid just like everyone else. 

We help young children like Emily and her family pay for hearing aids that help her hear, for sure, but more importantly, help her be a kid just like everyone else. 

In all honesty, it was the charity that brought me here - and I think its the main source of our collective Elks pride. That look on a family's face when you present them with a personal assistance check that helps them give their child a chance to realize their full potential, or just be a kid like their peers, is something special. Knowing that your hard work at that walk-a-thon or local fundraising initiative translates into dollars that go to our charity so that they can be used to pay for a pair of hearing aids, or a cochlear implant, or even help pay for a conversion van for a child with cerebral palsy puts a smile on our faces and fills our hearts with joy. Anybody who's ever watched one of these videos of people hearing their loved ones for the first time should be able to understand that what we do for families is life changing. 

(Good luck getting past the first girl without shedding a tear by the way!) 

The simple fact is this - you've donated nearly $10 million (yes, $10 million!) to provincial programs in the last 40 years, and supported nearly 3,000 personal assistance cases with another $3.5 million.  

Just stop and think about that for a minute. $13.5 million dollars. Most of which comes from the hard work (if not the pockets) of our members. Amazing. 

Let's keep the giving train running.

I think we can all agree that we would LOVE to see the Elks and Royal Purple Fund for Children flourish because the truth is that people need us, (and it feels sooooo good to make a difference for others!). Unfortunately, there are only so many dollars that we can ask for from our members before they start to feel donor fatigue and aren't able to support further. 

 Caitlin Brockman has been a recipient of funding from the Elks and Royal Purple Fund for Children, and now she's giving back by telling her story and helping others as a Child and Youth Grief Counselor in British Columbia. 

Caitlin Brockman has been a recipient of funding from the Elks and Royal Purple Fund for Children, and now she's giving back by telling her story and helping others as a Child and Youth Grief Counselor in British Columbia. 

We need to look at new and different ways of engaging and attracting others to FEEL that same good feeling we do when we give to the Fund for Children, and we need to widen our span of donors so that others can participate and contribute to the awesome thing we have going here. 

One way we can do this is through Giving Tuesday

Last year was our first year participating in the Giving Tuesday program, which is held at the end of November (right after Black Friday in the US) as a way to kickstart the holidays. Last year, we raised $3,000 in just one day for the Elks and Royal Purple Fund for Children, and this year our goal is $5,000. 

Giving Tuesday this year is November 28th, and you should see alot of information about the day ahead of time on social media and on our website etc. 

We would love for you to give, but more importantly we would love for you to get involved with a giving page. 

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Ryan O'Connor in our office has been working hard on developing a new platform for us that we will be able to use not only for events like Giving Tuesday, but could also easily be incorporated into provincial walk-a-thons and other fundraising intiatives that support the Elks and Royal Purple Fund for Childrent. The new website (which you can access here) for the Giving Tuesday event coming up allows you to donate on-line and get a tax reciept instantly. 

But, what's really slick is the platform's ability to allow people to create your very own donation collection page, which you can use and share on social media and through emails to your friends and family. Anyone can start a page, including Elks Members, their families, grand children, friends, school mates- anyone who has an interest in setting up a page to help us reach our goal. 

I would love to see us create atleast 50 personal donations pages this year to show our friends and families how amazing the work we do truly is! 

If you are in need of some support to set up a page yourself, please contact us or you can use the tutorial that Ryan developed, which you can download here

We still have a few weeks for people to sign in, set up an account and design a page, so let's try to use that time to get things set up and ready to go for the 28th. And let's use that monicker of "hard workin' people" to blow the $5,000 target out of the water this year, and show the rest of Canada what we are capable of doing when we work together! 

Watch for information leading up to the Giving Tuesday event, and share your page with others ahead of time so that they know where they should spend their Giving Tuesday donations this year. We will open the pages early so that people have ample time to make a donation if they wish. 

Thanks everyone. Let's make this an amazing start to the holiday season! 

Kevan 

 

 

 

 

Growth is beautiful

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

So I have been working for the Elks for about 5 months now.  I have been learning the ropes here in the office and seeing how the order operates.  Policy, constitution, bylaws and all that fun stuff.  I have enjoyed talking to a lot of members over the phone and meeting people from all over Canada at Convention.   I have a pretty good understanding of what it means to be an Elk, especially since I have been a member since 2010.

Now I have a better understanding of what my role is here.  It is to help this organization grow. PERIOD.  I am currently working on a strategy to do just that.  A new fresh approach that I hope will bring growth and energize our membership.  But growth is currently happening.  When I hear an awesome story about a lodge I am going to share it. I hope this encourages all of you to share your stories too.

Yorkton lodge No. 392 had a motion to hand in their charter and close at the end of this year.  They have an older group of members that just have run out of gas.  They have been doing awesome things in the community for decades.  Earl Greiner the Exalted ruler gave me a call a month or so ago and said I have recruited some members!  I said fantastic.  Earl explained to me that a group of people that live in Yorkton approached him to do some charitable work in Yorkton.  They wanted to give back to the community that has welcomed them with open arms.

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Earl said the group of people were first generation Canadians that have come from the Philippines.  They have settled into Yorkton working in various industries.  They want to volunteer and do great things.  Earl being a proud Elk said they should become Elks!  Well 10 new people committed to joining and just recently 4 new members went through a traditional initiation with our own Executive member Ron Potter leading the way.

There are examples of this across the country and we need to know about them.  These stories show that we can grow our membership and sustain our lodges.  We all have to think outside the box and tell our story.  There are people out there that want to be a part of an organization like ours.  Great job Earl and Yorkton No. 392.  You make us all Elks Proud!

Meet the Robinsons

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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.

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Written by Brother Kevan McBeth - National Executive Director

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

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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

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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

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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.