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Showcasing the national Elks organization

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Embarking on a nationwide tour to meet with as many lodges in Canada as possible, the the Elks of Canada Grand Exalted Ruler Ron Potter visited Swan River last week (May 8) to engage with the Swan River Elks Lodge No. 384 and the Swan River Royal Purple Elks No. 18. His goal is to visit as many Lodges as he can, and with more than 250 Lodges around Canada, that is a lot of stops.
“We want to make sure that our Lodges are doing alright and they understand that (the national organization) is still here to help them with what they need,” said Potter.
“We try our best to promote the Order in any way possible, make people understand what it is. We’re more than just people wearing purple clothing.”
Potter – along with Swan River Elks Exalted Ruler Malcolm Shaw and Swan River Royal Purple Elks Honoured Royal Lady Jan Fawcett – emphasized the services that the Elks offer, and the benefit they provide to their community.
“Any community without a volunteer or charitable group is going to be a tough community to live in because the services we provide would either not be there or they would be funded by the government and taxes,” said Potter.
The Elks of Canada has a national charity called the Elks and Royal Purple Fund for Children, which provides financial assistance for the medical needs of children with hearing and speech disorders under the age of 19. In complement to financial assistance, the charity provides funding for programs that address the needs of children with hearing and speech disorders.
“We took that on as our project to make sure that those children get a normal life,” said Potter.
The national charity enables and Elks Lodge to respond at any time to a child in their community with medical needs, even if they do not have charitable funds in their own account. In this way, the national charity becomes a local charity. By accessing the Fund when necessary, Lodges can build their profile in the community as a caring organization and one worth joining.
The Fund relies on the donations from Lodges throughout the country, which are received from fundraising efforts from those Lodges, as well as personal contributions from members.
“The other things we do is community projects,” said Potter. “My biggest thing is to go around to each community and see what everybody is doing. And, if I see a real success, I can pass that on.”
In addition to funding the national programs – which can and has benefitted local children that have needed it – the local Lodges have reinvested their dollars greatly in local community projects.
“We have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in this Valley for different things,” said Shaw, citing large contributions towards Swan River school playgrounds, as well as towards the Swan River Community Centre and the Swan River Centennial Arena.
Potter even went beyond that and estimated that the local Elks have invested more than $1 million in the community during their approximately 65 years of existence.
“Volunteering is a wonderful thing, and it gives you a great sense of gratitude and pride to belong to a group that does this every day.
The big issue affecting Elks Lodges all over the country is declining membership. Although they are 11,000 members strong nationwide, Potter said that there is atrophy from members leaving and passing away faster than members are joining.
“Once we get members and show them what we do, they stick around,” he said. “Last fall, I had the privilege of giving one member an 80 year pin. He’s 102 years old. (His Lodge) has a Christmas party every year and he’s only missed two.”
Shaw confirmed that while the local Lodge could use some new members, the role they are seeking more so is a good business manager, to supplement the diligent volunteers that they already have.
To become a part of this illustrious organization, or to learn more about what they do, the best place to go is to the Elks of Canada website at elksofcanada.ca. From there, a directory that categorizes and lists all of the Elks and Royal Purple Elks Lodges in Canada, to help people find one that may be in their area. In addition to the Swan River Elks Lodge and Swan River Royal Purple Elks Lodge, the Swan Valley is also home to the Benito Elks Lodge No. 458.
All Lodges have executive members listed with contact information.
Easy to follow information is also available on this website to join a specific lodge or to become a member-at-large.

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Jeremy Bergen
REPORTER
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