2016-17 Illinois Elks Association year-end district reports.
By Chris Ord
2016-17 West Central Vice President
West Central District had a phenomenal year. Improvements were made across the board, and the district continues to bond and grow in Elkdom. For example:
- Membership. Everyone seems to be talking about kicking the door down. West Central knocked the whole house down. Our district went from a loss of 62 the previous year to a gain of 57 this year. Springfield, Beardstown, and Jacksonville led the charge with the remaining lodges pulling through with small gains or tempered losses. Only one lodge had a loss of more than 10.
- Elks National Foundation. West Central members donated $29,801.58 to ENF. That works out to donations of $6.26 per member, well above the national and state goals.
- Children’s Care Corporation, We donated $61,189.62 – or $12.86 per member – to our State Major Project. The next closest district was at $35,430. West Central also distributed $50,250 in scholarships from CCC, almost double the amount of any other district in the state.
- West Central continues to aid and assist our veterans. We have two VA facilities in our district, the Quincy Veterans Home and the East St. Louis Veterans Center. Our VAVS representatives and deputies work diligently to serve our heroes.
- All West Central lodges participated in Drug Awareness activities, Easter Bunny events, Hoop Shoot and the district held a Soccer Shoot.
- Nominations were received for Elk of the Year, Lady of the Year, and Family of the Year.
Like most lodges, ours have their ups and downs, but there have been no major issues to deal with this year, and no lodges have needed a special representative.
In conclusion, it has been my privilege and honor to serve as West Central’s district vice president. West Central, in 2016-2017, was a thoroughbred racehorse and I am fortunate to have held the reins.
By Kristi Wykes
2016-17 East District Vice President
The East District finished 2016-17 with 2,149 members, a decrease of 7.3 percent, or 149 members from last year. We also have 521 delinquencies for a 16.3 percent lapsation rate.
In spite of our declining numbers, seven of the East’s eight lodges contributed $8,840 directly to the Children’s Care Corporation. Including individual donations, calendar sales and all other offerings credited to the East District, a total of $31,400 was contributed to the Children’s Care Corporation, a 12 percent decrease in donations over last year despite per member gifts of $14.61.
All lodges exceeded both the Grand Exalted Ruler’s and the State President’s Elks National Foundation goals. Total donations credited to the district were $15,479 for per member donations of $6.74.
While five of eight district lodges participated in Hoop Shoot this year, we continue to work on hosting more Soccer Shoots. Watseka is the only Lodge that hosts a regular event.
I am pleased to report that six of the district’s eight lodges submitted candidates for IEA Lady Elk of the Year. Whereas this exemplifies the outstanding contributions our Ladies provide our Order, we still should aspire to submit more hard working and deserving Elks for the other categories as well.
Overall our district meetings are well represented. However, I am concerned by the lack of attendance by required Lodge Officers at state conventions. Lodge representatives that do not stay for all of the business sessions are missing too much valuable information.
As a district we will be diligent in encouraging full attendance at all functions, and will seek assistance from our State Officers and District sponsor in achieving our goal.
By Bob Swisher
2016-17 East Central District Vice President
One lodge had to sell its building and another was put on probation, but hopefully those lodges will get stronger. It seems when we are down everyone works a little harder to get back on top.
Our biggest problem in the district is communication, We don’t know what some lodges are up to until we have a district meeting, and exalted rulers give their report. That is usually when we find out what lodges have been up to. It is always a good surprise.
The district started with 2,780 members in 2016-17, but ended with a loss of 285. I guess we know where we need to work a little harder in 2017-18.
For Children’s Care Corporation, district lodges donated right at $20,000 as of mid-May.
For Elks National Foundation, seven of the district’s nine lodges met the $5.50 IEA President Ray Summer’s goal, and the other two met the Grand Exalted Ruler’s $4.65 goal.
For our Drug Awareness Program, six lodges used Drug Awareness material 12 times. The Drug Awareness trailer was used five times and Elroy one time. The district also had one lodge that raised $500 holding an Alex Lemonade Stand to help kids fight cancer.
Our Hoop Shoot Program again attracted good participation with 97 Elks who volunteered to help out 2,960 kids who enjoyed the district Hoop Shoot. Six lodges participated.
The district had a little trouble agreeing on a date for Soccer Shoot, in which only two lodges participated. But we had five lodges host lodge events, and I was told the district Shoot will be bigger and better next year. Dates are already set.
Seven district lodges participated in Wreaths Across America. They donated wreaths or money to buy wreaths for Veterans Cemetery in Danville.
District lodges helped with Coats For Kids, generously donating coats and their time and raising money to buy coats. The district obtained 468 coats, 30 pairs of gloves, 34 hats, 15 scarves, one pair of shoes and one purse to help keep kids just a little warmer last winter.
At the beginning 2016-17, an exalted ruler called, asking how to put an orientation program together for new initiates. The ER had searched everywhere and could not find ideas. I asked district lodges what they do for orientation in an effort to publish a pamphlet. There has to be more than one ER who is having trouble coming up with an orientation program.
Membership is the lifeblood of Elkdom, making it necessary to inform people of what we do. This is our chance to get them hooked for life, and we have had some great feedback. One lodge came up with a flyer that lists everything it funds to show new members exactly what Elks are all about. The flyer should help get the new initiates excited to get started and to make existing members a little more involved. Everyone wants their list to be a big one.
I am very proud of East Central District lodges for their input and for the Grand Lodge manual that helped come up with a pamphlet that will hopefully be used to help get new members excited about becoming an Elk and help keep existing members active.
By Sandra M. Supancic
2016-17 North District Vice President
At the beginning of this year, I asked North District lodges to continue doing great things so we would have something to brag about. They exceeded my expectations.
All district lodges met both Grand Exalted Ruler Michael F. Zellen’s and IEA President Ray Summer’s per-member fundraising goals, paced by Chicago Northshore 1316’s IEA-leading $43.13.
A number of North District lodges qualified for Elks National Foundation Promise grants for programs such as Operation Santa Claus and DuPage Bike Rodeo. Lodges also used Beacon grants to buy books for kids, care packages for veterans and new shoes for kids going back to school.
Gratitude grants went to food pantries and homeless shelters, and for programs like Wings and Heart of a Marine.
You think we can stop here? No way.
Elmhurst Lodge 1531 was the first North District lodge and second in the IEA to receive an Impact Grant. The community was more than thankful for the personal hygiene kits it received. Elmhurst will receive an Impact Grant again in 2017-18.
Also, two district lodges – Chicago Northshore 1316 and Elgin 737 – received Welcome Home Grants to help area homeless veterans. They helped furnish 48 apartments with pillows, sheets, blankets, cookware and small kitchen appliances.
Other examples of lodges giving to their communities are:
- Brookfield 1510, which sponsors bingo for veterans and a Meals on Wheels program. Brookfield also was host to the last two exalted ruler balls.
- Chicago Northshore 1316, which gave away a donated car to a veteran who, before she received the car, was forced to walk her two kids 10 miles to school every day. The gift came with insurance, a tuneup and gas money. Chicago Northshore also made blankets for veterans.
- Elgin 737, which has worked with the community Step Up program for kids going back to school and with the Knights of Columbus for various youth projects.
- Elmhurst 1531, which also put together holiday baskets to give away, staged Halloween events for children and provided Thanksgiving dinner for more than 35 veterans at Hines VA Hospital, in which all district lodges pitched in to help.
- Des Plaines 1526, which celebrated its 90th anniversary, put on a picnic for veterans at James Lovell VA Hospital and works with the O’Hare Airport USO. Its efforts have led to an increase in volunteerism and meeting attendance.
- Wheaton 2258, which works with the DuPage County sheriff’s department on a number of youth events, sponsors a Cub Scout pack, retired 800 U.S. flags and donated to Ronald McDonald House.
- Woodstock 1043, which donated laptop computers to veterans returning to school and a washer and dryer to a veterans homeless shelter.
The North District was busy in 2016-17, setting the stage for a busy 2017-18. I was proud to be a part of it.
By Gail L. Sessler
2016-17 Northwest District Vice President
The Northwest District was very active in trying to meet the goals that President Ray Summers set for 2016-17. At every meeting the required committee chairs reported on their respective areas. Meetings were well attended. And, as in past reports, we still have our checkbook balance in the black.
As for the specific goals set by the President Summers:
All district lodges participated in both the Easter Bunny and Hoop Shoot programs. Americanism Essay Contest entries declined; and Soccer Shoot is still struggling. There were not enough lodges to hold a districtwide Shoot.
We are also struggling to start a new Antlers program in the lodges.
The majority of lodges held some type of Drug Awareness event. Elroy T. Elk visited several district lodges.
The district continues to donate $2,000 to the LaSalle Veterans Home, and lodges continue to entertain the veterans at their respective lodges in a variety of ways.
The district donated more than $22,000 to Children’s Care Corporation and held four clinics during the year.
At district meetings, it was discussed to have orientation on a night other than meeting night. The main purpose was to invite the family and to place the candidate in a relaxed environment.
Members were encouraged to participate in the State Ritual contest by starting at the individual positions.
The district discontinued its website, but was encouraged to use Elks.org as well as the IEA website for information they provide.
The district donated more than $32,000 to Elks National Foundation with all nine lodges meeting the $5.50 IEA state president’s per member goal.
Four dstrict lodges posted a membership gain, four a loss and one stayed the same, leaving the district with a gain of eight members for a total of 4,053 as of March 31. The majority of the lodges worked on their lapsed members early in the year to help the district post the year-end gain.
In conclusion, the year was fun and we met the majority of the president’s goals.
By Jeffrey S. Johnson
2016-17 South Central District Vice President
At the district organizational meeting on June 12 at Mt. Vernon Lodge 819, gun raffle tickets were handed out to lodges, which succeeded in generating much-needed revenue for the district for the year.
Our August 14 district meeting was followed in September by the IEA fall convention. In October, November and December I attended as many district deputy visits as I could.
On Jan. 14 was our district Hoop Shoot at Salem Lodge 1678 with winners moving on to the State Shoot on Feb. 25 in Decatur. I attended the State Shoot, in which Rayci Phelps outshot her competitors to move on to the Regional finals In Iowa, where she made 23 of 25 to gain a berth in the National Shoot in Chicago.
At the Jan. 15 district meeting, hosted by my home lodge Lawrenceville 1208, Carmi Lodge 1652 submitted PER Darren Hays for junior trustee. He was nominated at the April 23 district meeting. Also, Susanne Pretzsch, was presented a plaque for district Lady of the Year, was invited to the Mid-Winter Meeting to participate in the IEA Lady of the Year luncheon.
Fairfield Lodge 1631 hosted the final district meeting for 2016-17 on April 23, in which a new position to the district chairs was approved. Like an apprentice to the junior trustee, this person’s sole purpose is to manage the district hospitality room at state meetings, allowing the junior trustee to attend required meetings.
We also voted to do another gun raffle for 2017-18, and presented awards for: ER of the Year Dave Dallas of Mt. Carmel 715; Secretary of the Year Carla Hooe of Salem 1678; Elk of the Year Brenda Wimberly of Mt. Vernon 819; and Family of the Year, the Ron Donoho family of Centralia 493
Ray Baril also was presented a plaque for 35 consecutive years as secretary of Mt. Vernon Lodge 819.
Most Valuable Student state award winners and their sponsoring lodges were: Sierre Wetmore, Salem 1678; and Elijah Henson, Mt. Carmel 715.
Charitable donations totaled $30,141 to the Elks National Foundation and $34,149 to the Children’s Care Corporation.
It’s been a good year and an honor to serve as district vice president. Thanks to the other district officers for their help as I take the next step in my commitment. I know the district is in good hands.
By Lyndal Qualls
2016-17 South District Vice President
The year 2016-17 brought many new and exciting things to the South District, led by the news that Johnson County Lodge had received its charter.
This group of outstanding people hit the ground running and has not slowed down. Recently, they have been looking at several buildings that are on the market, and looked at properties to possibly erect a new lodge. The search continues.
Eleven of the South’s 12 lodges met both the GER’s and State President’s per member goal for gifts to the Elks National Foundation, and, yes, Johnson County was one of them.
The 12 lodges of the South raised more than $1,000 for the This Able Veteran organization. I am extremely proud of this endeavor as I have a passion for this program.
The South District showed a very impressive membership gain over the past year, due in part to the opening of a new lodge. But eight of our Lodges showed an overall membership gain, including Cairo, which had a net gain of 45!
Some financial problems plagued South District, but we all banded together to fix the problem, demonstrating that we are a very close knit group.
One interesting fact is that we averaged 73 members at our district meetings throughout this year. I have been told that this is very good.
The South District has seen many younger people get involved, including two new young exalted rulers. We are seeing some younger faces in chairs at some lodges. Another encouraging fact is that two of our three District officers for 2017-18 are in their early 30s. This is great news because we are not getting any younger.
In closing, it has been an honor to serve the Illinois Elks Association and the South District as district vice president. There have been some ups and downs, but through it all, we remain the Super South.
By Jerry W Leininger
2016-17 West District Vice President
West District had a fantastic year by promoting Drug Awareness, veterans, membership and charitable contributions.
All eight lodges made their $4.65 per member contributions, earning each a $1,500 Elks National Foundation grant, led by Macomb 1009 at $12.72, followed by Galesburg 894, $10.76; Bloomington, 281, $8.12; Kewanee 724, $7.13; Lincoln 914, $6.75; Peoria 20, $6.48; Canton 626, $5.86; and Pekin 1271, $5.69.
2016-17 is the third year in a row all eight lodges met the grand exalted ruler’s goal for per member donations.
In other programs:
Children’s Care Corporation – All calendars were sold, and just a few Hodo Pins remain for sale. No district total from the CCC was immediately available.
Grants – A total of $31,000 in Gratitude, Beacon and Promise grants to the West District are confirmed. Other lodges had some approved but could not be confirmed at the time of this report. That $31,000 went back into our Elks communities. What a fantastic job of demonstrating “Elks Care – Elks Share.”
Membership – At the last district meeting in April, we had shown a membership loss of 4, but as of the last report on May 17, the district had a gain of 20 for 2016-17.
Elks awards – All lodges applied for some type of awards for membership (Elk of the Year, Officer of the Year, Citizen of the year). We need to make sure we show appreciation to our hard working members. Three lodges submitted IEA Elk Lady of the Year applications, with Bloomington Lodge 281 Cynthia Leininger winning the top honor. (How about that wife of mine?)
Hoop Shoot – All lodges participated in Hoop Shoot, but only one – Canton Lodge – held a Soccer Shoot.
Antlers Program – Canton Lodge 626 continues to excel with its program, which continues to bring in new members despite a change in chairmanship. All lodges need to look more closely at sponsoring programs.
Honor Flight – Peoria continues to support the program for veterans by providing a lunch and snack package for their flights. Bloomington made 80 cloth bags to carry these supplies for the last flight. We appreciate our veterans and also the volunteers who put this program together.
Major lodge events – Bloomington 281 installed two new furnaces and air conditioner units. Interior remodeling included new carpet.
Peoria 20 suffered a major water line break to its lodge, causing more than $50,000 in damage, and is working with the Elks insurer, Aon. Peoria Elks were hoping for a good turnout for its lodge charity golf scramble at 12:30 p.m. June 30 at Lincoln Green Golf Course. Anyone interested in playing is asked to contact lodge Exalted Ruler Joe Bores at email@example.com. I am sure they can use support.
Pekin 1271 continues to work on its facility and hopes to complete the project soon.
In the spotlight – After a large explosion in the downtown area, Canton Lodge opened its doors to the first responders. They used the lodge for about two weeks getting the downtown back to safe conditions. Hats off to Canton Elks for working with their community.
It has been a privilege to work with the West District officers of each lodge, the chairman, the volunteers and especially the ladies who work so hard along with the support of the state officers. We have had a fantastic year and look forward to continue to work with the members of this great organization to reach the goals that we have set for our children, communities and country.