From the Corner #3

The view from the corner. #3

In 2001 I was assigned to the 020 Precinct on the upper west side of Manhattan.  I was part of the Anti-Crime Unit, working plain clothes in the precinct and was going to be eligible for transfer to an investigative unit in a few months to start working towards a promotion to Detective.  One night in June of that year, during a foot pursuit I blew out 2 discs in my lower back.  Spinal surgery followed, then rehab and physical therapy.  Then the Towers fell.  We all went back to work, and after a few months my back let go once again.  Another more invasive spinal surgery, therapy and then rehab again, this time to get the use of my leg back so I could at least walk.  After this surgery, the department retired me on a full disability pension.  All it took was one misstep during a foot pursuit and any dreams I had once had about becoming a Detective for the NYPD went up in smoke.  In one moment my job, my career, a large part of how I saw myself had vanished.

Retiring so young is supposed to be a good thing, but in reality it is incredibly difficult.  All the time you spent working are now empty hours to be somehow filled and I filled those hours with bad options.  Before I retired work kept me out of the house for days on end.  Now retired, I was underfoot all the time.  Years of bad decisions and worse choices alienated the few friends I had outside the NYPD, eventually distancing me from my family, and ultimately destroyed my marriage.

I wound up here in Lakeland, got myself a little apartment and tried to put things back on track, but had an incredibly hard time doing it.  This was the very first time in my life I had lived alone, had no idea how to go about meeting people and fell into the cycle of feeling sorrier and sorrier for myself.  Looking back, those months were without a doubt some of the darkest times I have ever lived through.  Self pity, then self doubt, then finally self loathing.  It was when I was pretty much at my lowest that I stumbled across the Elks Lodge and basically invited myself in.

That was the change.

I was let in, allowed to play darts, and met a few people.  I was invited back, and met more people.  A couple, the Dassingers, took pity on me and showed me ropes of the Lodge, introducing me to key Members, all of whom I count as some of my best friends to this day.  I was sponsored and joined within a month.  Brian and Julie Dassinger kept extending their friendship towards me.  Hearing that I was planning on spending that Thanksgiving alone, they insisted, VERY forcefully, that I join them for dinner.  Again at Christmas they gave me a place to go and feel welcomed.  From that moment on, I have always known I have a home in the Lodge.

As I have gone through the years here in Lakeland, I have stumbled a few times, as we all do, and made mistakes.  There were a few dark times, though none as dark as when I first got to Florida, but it was my friends at the Lodge who were always there.  Even friends whom I had distanced myself from were there with open arms when I returned.  At one point, I asked one of them why they took me back in so readily after I had wandered away for so long.  “Because we are family, and that’s what family does.”

That is my story; how I found my way into the Elk family.  How I was taken in and even though I stumbled and made mistakes, was taken back in with open arms and love.  Some of you reading this have similar stories, some even darker and more bleak than mine.  Others will stumble some time in the future and hopefully find that what I said here is the truth.  Hopefully the majority of you will never have to go through those dark times to find the light at the end of the tunnel.

So why, dear readers, am I dragging you along on my little journey of self realization?  The reason is simple.  It is because we are family and sometimes we need to be reminded of that.  This person doesn’t like that one?  This group won an election instead of that group?  Dinner was late?  Drink was made too slow?  All things that seem important in the moment, but in the long view, all petty BS.  We are a group of individuals who all that took the oath to join the Lodge and CHOSE to be family to one another.  Family may break each others shoes from time to time, may dislike one another, but when things are dark; when you need one another, family is always there for you.

Using myself as an example, were it not for the Dassingers going out of their way to be kind and inviting to me, I may not be an Elk at all.  I may not have stayed in Florida and I certainly would not be the person I am today.  Every person I was introduced to at the Lodge went our of their way to be nice, but it was that initial meeting of THAT couple that made me comfortable in the Lodge.  Be that person to someone.  When you see that new face sitting at the bar looking around and praying that someone will strike up a conversation with them, BE that person who says hello.  Be that persons stepping stone into the wider Lodge.  I can personally attest that the little attention I was given made a HUGE difference in how I felt at the Lodge, and in my life as a whole.

If someone kind of drops off your personal radar and comes back, be that friend who welcomes them back with open arms and no expectations.  Again, from personal experience I can tell you how hard it is to walk up to friends you have forsaken and ask to be let back in, and that there are few feeling better than being welcomed back.

Way back in the day, when I was putting on my uniform, the plan for the shift was to leave work with the same number of holes in my body as there were when I started.  We all have to learn to not sweat the small stuff.  See the difference between what we THINK is a big deal at the moment and what really IS a big deal.  We might not all like one another every minute of every day, but we all love one another.  We have to.  We’re family.

Bartender, a Rock for me, with lime of course, and this time buy a round for the bar.  It may not be 11 o’clock, but let’s all raise a drink to our absent member. Chuid eile i síocháin Rick, chuid eile i síocháin.

2019 Scholarship Awards Banquet -Success

2019 SCHOLARSHIP BANQUET A SUCCESS  (Photo below)

Approximately 80 people were present for the awarding of 12 scholarships totaling $13,750 at the 2019 Scholarship Banquet held on March 18 at our Lodge.

Serving as emcee for the evening, Scholarship Chair Dave Norwine announced each student receiving an award and shared with the audience a recap of that student’s accomplishments including their community service, their school and community involvements, leadership positions held, and honors and awards received.

Receiving $1,000 Lakeland Lodge Legacy Scholarships were Adele Barski, a senior at Johnson Ferry Christian Academy in Marietta, Georgia, who is the granddaughter of Lodge member Ed Barski; and Lauren Musselman, a senior at George W. Jenkins Senior High School and the granddaughter of Lodge member Janet Bentley.

Receiving $1,000 Lakeland Lodge Scholarships were Hannah Womersley from All Saints Academy in Winter Haven, Abby Branham from Lakeland Christian School, Demetrius Rasmussen from Mulberry Senior High School, and Gabrielle Snyder from International Baccalaureate at Bartow Senior High School.

Receiving $1,250 Lakeland Lodge Scholarships were Jasper Montgomery from International Baccalaureate at Bartow Senior High School, Parrish Westmoreland from Bartow Senior High School, Anthony Amato from Winter Haven Senior High School, Jacquelin Flores from Mulberry Senior High School, and Olivia Potthast from Chain of Lakes Collegiate High School in Winter Haven.

Elizabeth Gonzalez, a senior at International Baccalaureate at Bartow Senior High School received a $1,500 Scholarship from our Lodge.

At the close of the Awards Ceremony, Norwine announced that five of our 2019 recipients – Gonzalez, Potthast, Flores, Amato, and Rasmussen – made it through district judging to the state, but, unfortunately, were not selected to receive national awards.

Featured speaker for the evening was Nicole Welch, a Lakeland Mental Health professional who has dedicated her life to teaching and showing others how to use their Godgiven instincts and emotions combined with her field tested strategies to connect quickly, influence at a higher level and achieve more in any interpersonal encounter. Nicole spoke to the students and all in attendance about the importance of Mission & Motivation in life. She encouraged everyone to seek a mission and let it be your guiding light. She also advised the students that as they go off to further their educations they will need to learn how to “parent” themselves. This is where motivation becomes important in the development of selfdiscipline in order to “do what needs to be done.”

Exalted Ruler Vicki Baker welcomed the students being honored and their families to Lodge 1291 and reviewed for them the scope of the Lodge’s other charitable activities (Veterans programs, Boys & Girls Club programs, and sponsorship of the Brotherhood Ride). Vicki also presented each of recipients their certificates and awards.

In closing the evening’s program, Norwine acknowledged the school administrators and counselors present and thanked the students’ parents for all their support, encouragement and sacrifice that enabled our scholarship recipients to have distinguished and service oriented high school experiences.

2019 Recipients

Back Row L-R : Dave Norwine, Scholarship Chair; Demetrius J. Rasmussen. Mulberry Senior High School; Parrish A. Westmoreland, Bartow Senior High School; Abby G. Branham, Lakeland Christian School; Gabrielle L. Snyder, International Baccalaureate Bartow High School; Anthony M. Amato, Winter Haven Senior High School;

Front Row L-R: Hanna D. Womersley, All Saints Academy, Winter Haven; Jacquelin Flores, Mulberry Senior High School; Lauren A. Musselman, George W. Jenkins Senior High School; Olivia M. Potthast, Chain of Lakes Collegiate Senior High School; Elizabeth Gonzalez, International Baccalaureate Bartow High School; Jasper L. Montgomery, International Baccalaureate Bartow High School; Vicki Baker, ER.

(Unable to attend: Adelle R. Barski, Johnson Ferry Christian Academy, Marietta, GA.)

 

Veterans Committee Update April 2019

Veterans Committee
As our Fiscal Elk Year comes to an end, we want to give you updates on our recent donations. We made a donation to the James A. Haley VA Hospital, specifically targeted to the homeless veterans that they serve. The immediate need was for athletic shoes, rain jackets, toothpaste, toothbrushes, bar soap and baby wipes. We donated approximately $850.00, of these items, which included 39 pairs of shoes, 13 rain jackets, 27 packs of baby wipes, 93 bars of soap, 68 toothbrushes, 64 boxes of toothpaste, 33 packs of antibacterial wipes, and 20 pairs of socks. We were also able to donate an additional 32 personal care kits from member Dan Wait’s Sandpiper community. The kits were also tailored toward the homeless veterans and included toiletries, socks, hats, and puzzle books. A special thank you to Steve Masterton, PER and John “Mac” McArthur for delivering the donations to the hospital.

We were once again able to donate to the Lakeland Veterans Center. We donated $400.00 of beverages which included: 10 cans of coffee, 40 creamers, 1 box of 2000 sugar packets, 2 boxes of Splenda, 8 cases of water and 15 cases of soda. The facility does not have a provision for this in their budget. This donation will be used by local veterans during group and individual counseling sessions and takes the burden off of the veteran to provide it.

Flight to Honor Mission #5 is scheduled for April 30th from Lakeland Linder Airport. As previously reported we have helped two of the James A. Haley Medical Foster Veterans with attending this trip. We would like to show our community that with Elks, veterans are our priority, and therefore, we would like to get a group of Elk members to go to the airport to show support at “Send Off” and “Return”. If you would be willing to do this, please let us know. We will post further details as it gets closer to the flight.

In order to continue on with our ability to support veterans in need, please join us for our next fundraising event, which will be Friday May 17th, to honor Armed Forces Day. It will be a steak dinner by the McCoy Team with karaoke by Garry and Bob and we will have raffles. Mark your calendar to come out and pay tribute to all military branches. See our flier for further details.

We would like to thank everyone who has helped make this another great year. It is because of you, the members, that we are able to make these things possible. Your support and assistance is truly appreciated.

Char and Kristen

From the Corner #2

The view from the corner.

OK dear readers, last week’s blog was done a little early, just so I could say a fond farewell to our outgoing Officers and welcome in our NEW Officers.  That being done, let’s see what this little blog will be all about.  In other words, LET THE RAMBLING BEGIN!

The other day I took a stroll around the Lodge, leaving my position at the corner of the bar, and happened to sit down out on the porch for little bit.  One of our Members had brought her dog with her for a visit.  This great big ball of furry happiness bouncing around the porch made me want to remind you all that if you have a little four legged canine friend, by all means, bring them in for a visit!  Certified Service Animals are always welcome in the Lodge, but anyone can bring their tail wagging children for a visit on the porch.

After visiting with our furry guest for a bit, I wandered back to the corner and have to say that we had a TON of make up dart games being made up.  It was a beautiful Sunday and it made my heart happy to see so many Elks in the Lodge, playing darts, laughing and enjoying an adult beverage, and greedily chomping down on Sunday Burgers served up by Bill N. and John R.  Great job boys!

Speaking of darts, a subject near and dear to my heart, I highly recommend each and every one of you, my dear readers, to try your hand in our Dart League.  We have three different divisions to accommodate pretty much any level of player.  We throw on Thursday nights starting at 6:30, so please head on down and at least take a look.  I can hear you all now, ‘But I don’t know how to play!’, or ‘Its been years since I played, I need some help!’.  Well, my rabid little readers, your Lodge has you covered!  Just this past Tuesday a new program kicked off at our Lodge; The Dart Clinic.  ‘What is that?’, you ask.  Well, hold your horses and let me explain!  Each Tuesday night (other than Lodge Meeting Nights), we will have coaches available pulled from our Dart League to assist you in pretty much any level of tutoring.  This past Tuesday we had total novices learn the rules and how to throw, right up to players leading the A League taking tips to improve their game.  No sign up is needed, just show up with your darts and a few quarters and have some fun.

I am sure that whomever it is that takes up the mantle of House Committee Chair will no doubt write articles for The Antlers looking for volunteers, something the Lodge is always in need of, I have to take a moment to let you all know that the Lodge is in need of a Shopper.  This is one of those un-noticed positions that is truly critical to the daily routine of our Lodge.  The Shopper buys, literally, every item of food that our Members cook for us.  If you have free time, enjoy a challenge and are interested in being an integral part of our Lodge, please let our ER Rick Burton know.

As long as I am asking for volunteers I want all of my readers to be aware of a new program that Gina Monaghan is starting.  She is recruiting Elk Ambassadors, Members who would be willing to contact and mentor newly initiated Members into our Elk family.  We all remember the first few times we entered the Lodge as brand new Members.  This program will put a new Elk in contact with an existing Member who will ‘show them the ropes’ and make sure our new Members are shown all the great things our Lodge has to offer.  I think this is a great idea and think it will make a huge difference to our new Members.  If you are interested, look for Gina in the Lodge and talk to her about it.  Besides, she’s a cutie I think, but I’m a little biased.

Enough rambling for now.  Time to head out to the porch to see if that cute dog is back.  Bartender, a Rolling Rock if you please, and a slice of lime if you please.

April/May Issue of the “Antlers” is ready for reading…

Check out the latest issue of the Antlers Newsletter, April-May 2019. Click HERE

Remember; the Antlers pages are now in the  Members Only Section and are password protected. Contact the Lodge Secretary for the password.

Want a Lodge Christmas Parade Float?

An Elks 1291 Christmas Parade Float?

Recently the idea of our Lodge building a Christmas themed float for entry into the Lakeland Christmas Parade has been  brought up at the Lodge. Our Lodge had entered floats in the past and actually won first place with a float themed ‘The Island of Misfit Toys’.

PER Jim Crosby has said he would gladly donate the use of a trailer to be the base of a float, and a truck to tow it. He even has a certain elf who would volunteer to drive the truck (JC’s son). JC and several others were instrumental in building the floats in the past, and estimates that it would take somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 volunteers to build and then decorate the float, as well as people to be on the float during the parade.

If you are interested in volunteering and have any ideas or input, please let any Lodge officer know. There is a deadline for us to sign up for the parade, so if we DO decided to attempt this, the sooner we have an idea of volunteer interest, the better .

Senior Orphans this years Gratitude Grant recipient

We are pleased to announce that this year our Lakeland Elks Lodge 1291 has been given the Gratitude Grant. This Grant will be given to this year’s recipient—Senior Orphans of Polk County Florida. This is an organization that was founded over 25 years ago to assist those less fortunate. They provide to the neediest of seniors—those on a fixed income of no more than $600.00 a month!! They are faced with the choice of eating or buying much needed medications on a daily basis. As our Elks Lodge always does—we hope, with YOUR help, to do our best to add to this grant. For the entire month of August 2018, our lodge will be holding a drive for additional items and funds to assist them. Please, bring your donations to the lodge—that’s all you’ll need to do.

Our goal is to add an additional $500.00, be it in supplies or cash donations, to the Grant Funds.

Senior Orphans Drive Flyer 18

Annual Dixieland School Supplies Drive

The start of a new school year will be here soon. The children at Dixieland Elementary School need our help once again. Please help with this years school supplies drive. CLICK HERE to print a copy of this flyer and list.

Dixieland Elementary Antler article 18

Dart League Thursdays -New Season

Are you ready for a new dart season?!?!?!

We are having an organizational meeting on Thursday, August 2 at 6:30, be there or be square! If you can not attend and want to play please let me know. We are not sure when the season will actually begin, it depends on the number of teams and divisions. We will know more at the meeting after we get a team count.
You do not have to have a partner to attend, we will do our best to get partners for any players!
The dues are $60.00 per team member and can be paid to me or put on your tab with Christy.
If you have suggestions for the new season please let me or Phil know before the meeting.
Please share with anyone who you know that may want to play this season. We normally end the season the week before Thanksgiving.
Thanks to Joe for running a great summer league of blind draw! I am sure he would love for folks to stay after the meeting and play on the 2nd!
Hope to see everyone August 2 at 6:30!
Shannon