Fresno Elks Lodge Uses Impact Grant for Students’ Charitable Projects

Fresno StudentsAs the school year comes to a close, so has the 2016 Fresno Elks Lodge No. 439’s “Mt. Olympus Challenge”.  Expelled students from throughout Fresno County competed with one another to convince community judges and Elk members to support a charity idea that they created to help meet a need in their home community.

Nicholas proposed the winning idea for a charity he titled “No Place To Play”. His project would repair broken playground equipment at his apartment complex.  The 1st runner up, Yenices, proposed an idea for her charity titled “We Are Not For Sale” that would help victims of human trafficking. The 2nd runner up, Fernando, proposed an idea for his charity titled “Giving a Helping Hand” to provide services to our Veterans. Finalist Ronald proposed a charity to help the homeless get off the streets titled “A Place To Call Home.”  

The students, who were expelled from their home schools, received twelve weeks of hands-on coaching and mentoring from lodge members as they created their charities, prepared PowerPoint presentations and helped plan and execute the first fundraiser for Nicholas’ project. 

The program is funded through a $10,000 Impact Grant from the Elks National Foundation.  Fresno Elks Lodge members Susan Good and Jack Geiger served as Project Managers for the grant.

Temecula Valley Elks Hold Elks National Foundation Fundraiser

Recently the Temecula Valley Elks held a fundraiser for the Elks National Foundation, an Elks Charity. The Elks National Foundation helps fund Scholarships; Hoop Shoot; Americanism Program; Drug Awareness Program and our Veterans Program throughout the United States. The special guest that evening was our District Deputy Grand Exalted Ruler for the Southeast District, Bob Cones, who is a member of the San Bernardino Lodge. District Deputy Bob Cones is a representative our Grand Exalted Ruler and for the Elks National Foundation. Donations were made to Elks National Foundation in his name and in his wife Joyce’s name.

Members of the Temecula Valley Elks made donations and became Members of the Goal Buster Club. The members made donations totaling over $850. The money, along with previous donations, will help the Lodge become eligible for one of the Elks National Foundation grants. The grant will be used to benefit the children in the community.

Temecula ENF

Front Row: Diane Farrens, Lodge Elks National Foundation Chairman; Joyce Mahtesian; Steve Jones; Laurel Frey; Linda Jones; Susan Noon; Susan Wilkinson; Peggy Lewis; Pam Smith Sandy Neal; Ken Bodenhoefer; Angela Stevanus and Mike Caruso.

Back Row: Ken Hauer, Exalted Ruler; Lloyd Clough; Bob Farrens; Skip Wilkinson; Bob Walker; Marian Stuhr; Bob Cones, District Deputy Grand Exalted Ruler; Howard Adkins; Tom Jensen; Karen Caruso and Bill Van Meter.

Temecula Valley Elks Honor “Students of the Year” for Murrieta Middle Schools

The Temecula Valley Elks held their 17th annual Middle School “Student of the Year” Presentations recently at Van Avery Prep School. Twenty-eight students were recognized from five schools in the Murrieta area. Each middle school was asked to submit applications for three females and three males. Each application included a 300-word essay, describing why he or she should be selected as the “Student of the Year” from their school. A committee of Elks judged the applications according to their academic achievement, citizenship, involvement in school activities, and leadership activities. The top female and top male from each school received a gift card from Barnes & Noble in the amount of $50. All the candidates received a framed Certificate of Achievement from the Temecula Valley Elks; an engraved Olympic style medallion medal; coupon from Chick-fil-A and a coupon from Golden Spoon

The winners and runners-up from each school are:

  • Calvary Murrieta Christian School
  • Brianna Felkins Runner-up
  • Alina Vasquez Runner-up
  • Anna Holman Top Female
  • Hunter Escorcia Runner-up
  • Paul Garcia Runner-up
  • Luke Noon Top Male
  • Dorothy McElhinney Middle School
  • Amanda Meichtry Runner-up
  • Melia Webster Runner-up
  • Arielle Sarabia Top Female
  • Cole Fick Runner-up Royce Rueda Runner-up
  • Blake Lindemeyer Top Male
  • Shivela Middle School
  • Kiersten Myers Runner-up
  • Allison Keinz Runner-up
  • Danielle Murasmith Top Female
  • Jacob Martinez Runner-up
  • Brandon Lenahan Top Male
  • Thompson Middle School
  • Sydney Horst Runner-up
  • Olivia Landis Runner-up
  • Isabella Madalo Top Female
  • Vance Caruso Runner-up Garrett Otteson Runner-up
  • Nathan White Top Male
  • Warm Springs Middle School
  • Vi Lan Duong Runner-up
  • Chioma Okonkwo Runner-up Juliana Nguyen Top Female
  • Patrick Amog Runner-up
  • Peyton Longmore Top Male

Murrieta Students Year

Murrieta Students of the Year:

Row 1 – Anna Holman; Arielle Sarabia; Juliana Nguyen; Danielle Murasmith and Isabella Madalo

Row 2 – Jimmie Spezia, Southeast Elks District Leader; Luke Noon; Nathan White; Blake Lindemeyer; Brandon Lenohan; and Bob Farrens, Middle School Student of the Year Co-chairman.

Murrieta Students of Year Runners-up

Murrieta Students of the Year Runner-ups

Row 1 – Amanda Meichtry; Chioma Okonkwo; Alina Vasquez; Bri Felkins; Vi Duong; Kiersten Myers; Olivia Landis and Allison Keinz

Row 2 – Ken Hauer, Temecula Valley Elks President; Jimmie Spezia, Southeast Elks District Leader; Melia Webster; Sydney Horst; Vance Caruso; Hunter Escorcia; Jake Martinez; Royce Rueda; Diane Farrens, Middle School Student of the Year Co-chairman; and Bob Farrens, Middle School Student of the Year Co-chairman

Row 3 – Patrick Amog; Paul Garcia; Garrett Otteson and Cole Fick

A CHEMPI Pre-school Vision Screener’s Story

By Juliana Conde, CHEMPI Pre-School Vision Screener (serving the Central, Bay, and parts of the Northwest and West Central Districts)

When I started working with the Elks in April I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I was nervous, but excited about starting with the Major Project. I met everyone at the home office in Fresno, and found that everyone was warm, welcoming, and excited to be there. I stayed at the Fresno office for a week, training and learning everything I needed to know about being a preschool vision screener. I learned a lot and took in as much as I could. I left Fresno feeling ready to take on the job.

After I returned home, I was out in the field with my team leader Gina. She showed me what it was like screening at the sites. I got to see how she worked with the children and sites that we serve. I saw the strong relationships and trust the schools had in her. Before I knew it, she was having me practice with the children. I was instantly in love with my job.

I have worked with children my whole life. From helping to raise my niece and nephews, to tutoring at school, to being a preschool teacher at Kindercare – I love working with children. They are amazing. They have so much love, curiosity, and fun. I spent my time at Kindercare teaching children between the ages of 6 weeks to 12 years old. For five years, I helped to change the lives of children by teaching them the fundamentals. While I loved my time at Kindercare, it still wasn’t the right fit for me. I heard about the Elks hiring from my boss at Kindercare. She was looking for services and received an e-mail telling her they were looking for a new vision screener.

I didn’t even know you could work for the Elks. I knew they were a group aiming to make the communities around them better. I could relate to that. I was a member of the International Order of the Rainbow for Girls. A Masonic based sorority aiming to teach young ladies important life lessons and skills such as the value of giving to others, how to be a leader, self-confidence, event planning and follow through, and love of others. In my time at Rainbow, I helped serve several dinners at the Pittsburg Elks Lodge. They were always a lot of fun.

I started to research the Elks and the Major Project. I looked at what they were all about. I knew that this would be the right place for me. I could work with children while still helping my community as a whole. I could make a difference – which is something that I have always aimed to do. I could change the lives of others and open a whole new world for them. People don’t think that eye checks are important for kids, not like doctor appointments or the dentist. Somehow, eye health gets lost. My sister struggled her first year of Kindergarten and no one could figure out why until she got her eyes checked. It turned out that she was practically blind. A vision screening could have helped her to find out sooner, and she might not have fallen behind in Kindergarten. After getting glasses and some tutoring she caught up and is now fine. This experience in my life gives me a real connection to the value of what I do. The sooner we catch the eye problem the sooner children can get help or even have their problem corrected. I couldn’t wait to join this wonderful organization.

Now, two and a half months later, I have been out screening on my own, scheduling the schools that used to have our services, and finding new schools to offer our services to. I have been to schools all over the Bay Area, seen more than 500 children, and have referred more than 30. I have talked to parents of these children and helped them to understand my findings and found resources for them. It has been interesting, a little confusing, but I love it all.

I can’t wait to get to know more people involved with the Major Project and the Elks. This has been a fun, rewarding experience and I can’t wait to see where this journey with the Elks takes me.

Alameda Elks Lodge Enters Winning Float in City Parade

Alameda Elks FloatThe Alameda Elks Lodge No. 1015 participated in the “City of Alameda Mayor’s Fourth of July Parade”. The Lodge’s entry, ‘Picture Yourself an Elk’, received top honors for “Best Float”. Crewed by 28 enthusiastic members, it was viewed by more than 20,000 spectators. The winning float featured a 1/12-scaled model of the Lodge and large photographs of Elks having fun performing a wide range of work benefitting the community. Pictures of spectators along the parade route framed with a ‘Picture yourself an Elk’ frame, were posted on the Lodge website, garnering more than 5,000 social media impressions.

Read the complete article here 

Santa Maria Elks Sponsor Auto Show

Santa Maria Lodge #1538 sponsors the Impressions Car Club auto show Sunday, September 6, 2015. This year’s show was especially significant, as the Car Club President and founder, Willie Garcia, 58, of Santa Maria, died in a car accident just the week before. To honor his name and contribution, the Club decided to hold the show anyway. The show was attended by over a thousand enthusiastic car fans. Food and entertainment was in abundance as provided by local barbeque specialists and musicians.



A 1957 Volkswagen Beetle was one of dozens of custom cars on display during the Impressions Car Club show Sunday at the Santa Maria Elks Lodge.



Julian Jaime of Guadalupe works on wiring for the battery in his son’s custom scooter Sunday during the Impressions Car Club’s annual Labor Day weekend show at the Elks Lodge in Santa Maria.



Friends of Willie Garcia help with a barbecue during his car club’s Labor Day weekend show on Sunday at the Santa Maria Elks Lodge. Their T-shirts honor the President and founder of the Impressions Car Club, Willie Garcia, 58, of Santa Maria, who died recently died in a car accident.



Edgar Gomez of Santa Maria snaps a photo of one of several Chevrolet Impalas on display Sunday at the Santa Maria Elks Lodge during the Impressions Car Club’s annual Labor Day weekend car show.


Moreno Valley Elks Lodge #2697 – OTY

Judy Smith OTYJudy Smith, Moreno Valley, CA Elks Officer of the Year for 2014-15, has served well as Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the past four years. She has chaired many Lodge committees and makes sure these committees fulfill their responsibilities. As Grant Coordinator she received a grant which supplied local 3rd graders with dictionaries and drug-free coloring books. Additionally, a second grant allowed students at La Jolla Elementary School in Moreno Valley to participate in a program promoting good health through increased physical activity. Smith delivered Most Valuable Student Scholarship applications to seniors at ALL local high schools in the area. Five students were Lodge winners and will be honored in May 2015 at a Scholarship Awards Dinner planned and implemented by Smith. Smith has edited and/or assisted with publishing an award-winning bulletin for several years. She handles Public Relations for both the Moreno Valley Elks Lodge and the Southeast District Elk Lodges. Many of her pictures and articles have been published, thus informing the community and other Lodges about Elks and their many charities. Smith assists with a variety of events, such as a dinner theater and variety show honoring veterans, to help maintain the Lodge and raise money for charities which benefit local youth, veterans and other charities needing a helping hand! Judy Smith is truly an Elk Officer of the Year!

Grass Valley Elks Lodge Donates to Food Ministry

Grass Valley Elks Lodge No. 538 Donates to Food MinistryThe Grass Valley Elks Lodge No. 538 received a $2,000 Beacon Grant from the Elks National Foundation.  The lodge donated the money to the Interfaith Food Ministry.  The Elks’ continued generosity supports their vital “Egg and Peanut Butter” that provides essential protein for approximately 2,400 children.

Clients and volunteers of IFM deeply appreciate the Elks’ 114-year commitment to the Grass Valley community and its generosity to those in need.