This organization, once male dominated, offers memberships for both men and women.
Elks members come from all walks of life, and the member list includes names that read like a who’s who. Several former United States presidents, including Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy, to name a few, were Elks members. Many famous entertainers — Clint Eastwood, Gene Autry, Will Rogers and one of my personal favorites, Jack Benny — graced the membership list at one time.
Locally, the Tracy Elks Lodge No. 2031, is currently home to 344 members. According to the lodge leader and chairman of trustees for the Tracy Elks Lodge, Mike Conners, the local lodge does various charitable deeds, including sponsoring Boy Scout Troop 525, providing scholarships, helping our veterans and providing services for children with disabilities.
“Each year, we take in $3 million with the California-Hawaii Elks Association,” Conners said. “This money goes to support therapists to help children that are physically challenged. The therapists help these kids walk, talk, see and play. The Elks have also helped give glasses to children in need. We send out technicians to schools, and if the kids need glasses, we provide them for no charge.
“The Elks also provides scholarships for our youth. We are the second to the United States government in giving scholarships to children.”
In addition to helping children, the Elks are well known for helping veterans. Each lodge has its own thing it does for veterans. The Tracy lodge has collected thousands of reading materials and donated them to the Livermore veterans hospital and has also given money to veteran organizations.
I did a little research and was impressed with just how instrumental the Elks have been with helping our soldiers during past wars.
“Back in 1918, the Elks built the first veterans hospital in Boston,” Conners told me.
The Elks built that 700-bed rehabilitation hospital and ended up turning it over to the War Department. In addition, they founded and provided equipment for two field hospitals in France, raised money for the canteens used on the front lines and provided loans for returning veterans to use for rehabilitation and education.
In each additional wars, the Elks have provided reading materials, given pints of blood, helped recruit needed war workers and supplied equipment to hospitals tending to our wounded soldiers.
Annual membership dues are $125, with an initiation fee of $50, of which a large percentage goes toward the various charities. The Tracy Elks Lodge is at 6400 W. 11th St. Contact the lodge at 835-4413.
• Anne Marie Fuller, National Mrs. Beauties of the Nation and Mrs. California BOTN, is the host of Helpful Hints with Anne Marie” on Channel 26. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.