The Illinois Elks Association named its 2017-18 veteran volunteers of the year for men and women at its Annual Meeting in May. They are Dolores Tomsheck of the Des Plaines Lodge 1526 Ladies of the Elks and Stan Hayes of Centralia Lodge 493.
Tomsheck, a Lady Elks since 2007, took over the organization’s veterans programs several years ago.
“This is kind of my favorite,” she said, citing “the smiles you get from the guys when they play bingo, especially when they win.”
Tomsheck and four other Ladies of the Elks go every third Monday to play bingo with the veterans, 14 of whom “we have adopted,” she said.
Veterans also are invited to the lodge for lunch on occasion.
“They love doing this because they have a good meal,” she said, “and I make up ‘goodie’ bags for them at Christmas time.”
Tomsheck has two stops she makes at the Great Lakes Naval Base: volunteer services a the Capt. James Levell Federal Health Care Center and then to the USO on the base itself.
“Both places I take a bunch of goodies.and once in a while I bring paper supplies,” she said.
Tomsheck also volunteers when lodge members go to the Great Lakes base to have a picnic in August with the men.
“I always try to help out if I can when needed,” she said.
Equally dedicated to veterans is Centralia Elk Stan Hayes, the IEA veteran volunteer of the year for men and veteran of Vietnam.
Lodge Secretary Joe Ray noted Hayes’ involvement with veterans, including organizing the Centralia Lodge veterans breakfast and lunch; and helping organize the lodge’s involvement in the Veterans Administration Stand Down at the Marion VA, including shopping, soliciting donations from vendors, and packaging and hauling wares to Marion for distribution.
Hayes also helps veterans make doctor’s appointments and with anything else they need.
“Stan has a neighbor who is a young vet that has had a tough time,” Ray said. “Stan has become a father figure to him.”
As a Vietnam veteran, Hayes has kept in touch with his fellow veterans since his service. He also has sons and grandsons who are veterans.
“So in his heart he will always be of service to his fellow veterans,” Ray said.