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.”