The last weekend saw over 1000 members of the California Hawaii Elks Association (one segment of the larger Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks) gather in Palm Springs at the Westin to reconnect, educate, and celebrate the accomplishments of the past year.
The fact that this is a volunteer organization that continues to support communities by working with such groups as the youth, our veterans, scouting and so much more is just the starting point of why I actively support the BPOE.
Then there are the friendships that are created, some instantaneous, some cultivated over time. In my 10 (short) years there are those that, when we meet at the lodge or a convention, it’s like “old home week” with stories, smiles and laughter. In the last year we moved and our membership is now at Mojave Lodge and again, we have connected with wonderful individuals. They care and work hard to create a place of camaraderie for the folks who provide a service through their membership in this organization.
It’s that “service” element that keeps me inspired and here is just one of the stories from convention.
As you may or may not know, one of the programs that the Elks provide is the “Major Project”. In the various states, the focus may be slightly different but ultimately, it is about helping to create a better world for everyone. Here in our association our Major Project provides therapeutic resources for children that may not be able to receive help and in some cases, were determined beyond help. But the latter is a story for another day.
Today we celebrate the joy of Aya. Aya is our 2017-18 theme child and a delight to be around. But it wasn’t too long ago that the story was different. At 3 ½ Aya was speaking below a 1 year old level due to a condition known as Apraxia. Today at 5 ½, with the help of her speech therapy through the CHEA Major Project, “she is now an independent, sociable, verbal, outgoing, happy and confident girl”. To play a part in that change, no matter how small, is success. Our future lies in the hands of the youth and to be a part of an organization that continues to make such a profound difference in not only a single life but also all the lives they touch is beyond words.
It is with deep gratitude that I echo the appreciation shared by our Exalted Ruler Warren Guest during the Major Project parade, we want to thank PER Todd Smith for his efforts over the last year to help our lodge raise funds to contribute to the well-being of children throughout our association.