Here's a rerun of an early post about a group of people I am particularly fond of.
Well, that's not the official meaning of BPOE but if you ask me, it fits. I am a card-carrying member of the The Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks Lodge #850 and proud of it! Until two years ago I didn't know much about the Elks. I knew they were a fraternal organization with a very nice building in the City of Woonsocket where I needed to find new rental space to operate Adopt-A-Family, Inc., from.
Until then we called a local church home but it was closing and the building was being sold. We were desperate to find another safe, large location in the city we could afford and there weren't many options. Not expecting that the Elks would be able to rent us their hall for a whole week in December which is prime party time, I made an appointment to meet with them early in 2007 to ask.
They didn't know much more about us than I did about them but they were very nice and when they found out that our mission is to provide Christmas gifts to children of needy families, they were anxious to help. And that was the beginning of what I know will be a long and happy association with the Elks for both myself and AAF.
We rented their hall that week in December 2007, and we really got to know each other. The Lodge is open 7 days a week but most of the time only to members. So they watched us work over that week and they were impressed. I'll tell you more about Adopt-A-Family in another post. This is about the Elks. That week they couldn't do enough to help us and make us feel welcome. We knew we had found a new home.
The mission of the BPOE is all about patriotism and community service. Two things that are dear to me, as well. When I started to learn more about what they do for the community, I was hooked. And before that first week in December was over, I had decided I wanted to become a member. I'm proud to say that the Exalter Ruler that year, Butch Desjarlais, approached Paul and me and offered to sponsor us. In case you hadn't guessed, to be sponsored by the Exalter Ruler is an honor in itself. So before the end of 2008, Paul and I had both become members of Woonsocket Elks #850.
Established in 1868, the Elks nationally are involved in a wide variety of programs, from scholarships to drug education to Veterans Services. The BPOE is second only to the federal government in the amount of scholarship money they award! Scholarships are available to children and grandchildren of Elks. Paul and I have five grandchildren soon to be heading off to college so we'll soon start applying for them.
Our Lodge #850 is located Woonsocket, a city that is home to a large population of struggling families. Some of the events that we sponsor annually include a Fishing Derby, Youth Appreciation Dinner, Soccer Shoot, Basketball Hoop Shoot, Kids Christmas Party, Milk Fund, blood drives plus we have a resident Boy Scout Troop.
Since joining, Paul and I have become involved as much as our busy schedules allow. We enjoy dropping in on a Friday night when the lodge is open to the public for Fish & Chips. The food is good and reasonable. There's no pressure to do anything, just paying your annual dues and buying occasional raffle tickets helps fund the Elks National Foundation. But as I said, this is the beginning of a long association with a group I am pleased to be part of. As our motto states.....Elks Care, Elks Share!