Brother and Sister Elks,
I am honored to greet you as your new Exalted Ruler. I and your new officer corps were installed on March 26.
My slogan for the year is “ Building Elkdom One Story At A Time”. I have been an Ironworker, the guys that erect the high rises, for 37 years, and have worked on dozens of multistory buildings in my career ranging from 2 to 48 stories. I thought it fitting to use the analogy of the many floors of a high rise to the many stories that have built Elkdom.
The Elk story begins in 1868 in the attic of Mrs. Geishman’s boarding house in New York, where a group of actors, who would soon call themselves “The Jolly Corks” got together on Sundays to have some beer, tell stories and relax before getting back on stage the next week. As every building starts out as a need and idea, the idea for our order was born out of the sudden death of one of the Jolly Cork members, Ted Quinn, who left behind a wife and 3 children. The group was able to help Ted’s wife and children, and the blueprint for a structure that would eventually help thousands was put on the draftsman’s table. Plans were drawn to form a Benevolent and Protective Society. The foundation was laid with the adoption of our core principles of Charity, Justice, Brotherly Love and Fidelity; the base soon took shape, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Chicago and Cincinnati. Within 20 years there were over 10,000 members.
Stories started being added to the building we call Elkdom;
– 1918, WWI, the Order creates the Elks Reconstruction Hospital that had 700 beds for our wounded soldiers. This hospital was turned over to the government 3 years later in what is now the VA.
– The Elks funded the nation’s first GI loans to help our disabled veterans get back on their feet with vocational training. Over 40,000 loans were made.
– The War Department in WWII enlisted the Elks to help recruit volunteers to be a part of the newly formed Construction Battalion- The Seabees. The Elks accomplished the recruitment goal set for them 3 months ahead of schedule.
– The Korean War gave Elks the opportunity to provide 1 million pints of blood for the wounded.
– 1928 the establishment of the Elks National Foundation, a program that would, and I quote “unite the forces of the order into a mighty army for the service of mankind”. Started with a $100,000 grant the foundation has given to date well over $450 million to help serve (1) our veterans, through the Elks National Veterans Service Program, (2) our youth, through scholarships, drug awareness education and Hoop Shoot, the Elk Sponsored national free-throw contest where over three million children ages 8 to 13 competed this year (3) our communities through Beacon, Impact, and Gratitude grants.
Our Alameda story was also born out of necessity. Members of Oakland Lodge #171 who lived in Alameda, wanted to form a Lodge of their own so they wouldn’t have to leave the island, cause no Alamedan ever wants to leave the island. We were instituted in March 1906, and in just 3 weeks those founding members would be digging into their own pockets to set up a refugee camp on Oak Street to house over 600 victims of the Great Quake. Our permanent home was built here in 1910.
Unlike a high rise that will eventually top out, we can add on, expand, start a new building, with new stories; such a story is our Antlers, who just had their 2nd officer installation a couple hours ago. This group of young people, and future Elks, are already doing great work and setting a great example in the community. They have adopted as one of their primary charities the DreamCatchers shelter for underage homeless in Oakland. The only shelter in Alameda and Contra Costa counties to serve underage homeless. The Antlers go once a month and bring dinner, as food is not always available at the shelter. In fact, when they brought dinner a couple weeks ago they came in just as the stove broke down. They have made shoulder bags and filled them with toiletries and other essentials for the girls at the shelter, and with some financial help from the Elks, the Antlers have been able to purchase for the shelter beds, bedding, towels and other necessities you and I take for granted. Their “let’s just do this” attitude is very inspiring. Also, you should know that the Grand Lodge is watching the example our Antlers are setting as a blueprint for future Antler programs throughout Elkdom.
One of my major goals this year is to add the title of “All American Lodge” to ours and Elkdom’s story. This prestigious honor is achieved by reporting on the many things we already do, such as donating blood, Flag Day Observance, Veterans Day Observance etc. It is a title well within our reach, and I will be reaching out to our committee members and chairman to accomplish this goal.
In closing, let me again say thank you for your support, your confidence and your trust. I feel very lucky to have the chance to add my story to Alameda Lodge No. 1015….. ’The Liveliest Lodge in Elkdom’.
Exalted Ruler 2017-18