In the countdown to the BPOE’s 150th year celebration in July, Grand Exalted Ruler Malcolm McPherson visited the IEA, urging Illinois lodges to get their $1,500 grant to promote themselves during the celebration.
Twenty-five of the IEA’s 70 lodges had been approved for the grant as of January.
“This grant will expand our charitable presence in our community,” McPherson said in his keynote address highlighting the IEA Mid-Winter meeting in Sprinfield. Please seize the opportunity. “If you have not applied for the Anniversary Grant, please do so when you return to your lodge.”
The Elks National Foundation is offering the grant through its Community Investments Program.
McPherson said Illinois Elks donated $202,252 to the ENF in 2016-17, and received back $490,390 through the state charities grant, special projects grants, bonus grant, Most Valuable Student scholarship, Legacy Award and the National Veterans Service Commission. Adding the $256,993 that 61 Illinois lodges received through the Community Investments Program, the IEA received $747,383.
“Truly amazing,” McPherson said.
McPherson also called on Illinois Elks to boost their public relations and marketing efforts to grow their lodges.
“It’s the mission of the Lodge Public Relations and Marketing Committee to make sure everyone is able to see the impact that ‘Strengthening Elkdom Through Community Awareness’ is having in the communities we serve,” McPherson said, alluding to the motto for his year.
The BPOE could not attract more members than it lost in 2016-17, but lapsation was reduced to less than 1 percent for the first time in 37 years, McPherson said, and nearly 75,000 new members and reinstatements were added.
“I am predicting with your assistance and hard work we will realize a gain in membership” for 2017-18, McPherson said. “I need your help and assistance to realize this goal. In San Antionio I want to announce that for the first time in 37 years we had a gain in membership.”
McPherson also used his visit to Illinois to promote his home state of New Jersey’s Peer Leadership Program, which he hopes to grow nationally though the Elks Drug Awareness Program. The Peer Leadership Program offers high school students tools to achieve a healthy lifestyle while creating an army of youth volunteers to affect positive change in their schools and communities.
“I really want to develop this program on a national level,” McPherson said. “I need the help of all the state Drug Awareness directors to participate and join with us in this program.”
In remembering veterans, McPherson talked about the Elks National Veterans Service Commission’s newest program, Welcome Home,” which was inspired by a partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs to help end homelessness. The Elks National Foundation pledge $4 million in support over four years.
“We are proud to contribute to the means and the necessary support for homeless veterans to transition to a better life,” McPherson said.
He also spoke about ritual, which he called “another important tool in helping us develop pride within our lodge.”
“Ritual is part of our heritage and tradition, and when your officers work to perform an impressive ritual, it brings the officers together and I believe makes for a successful lodge.”