From Your Exalted Ruler

Greetings to all Members of BPOE Lodge 1291.

It is with a heavy heart that I must begin this article with sad news. On Saturday, November 10th, while attending the Elks Midyear Convention, Plant City Lodge’s Exalted Ruler Marty Carroll suffered a massive stroke and passed away. ER Carroll was not just an exemplary Exalted Ruler overseeing a fantastic year for the Plant City Lodge, but he had become a personal friend. I know you all join me in mourning Marty’s passing and extend our prayers to his family and all the Elks at the Plant City Lodge as they struggle to make sense of this sudden and tragic event. Exalted Ruler Marty Carroll was a true and upstanding Elk and the loss of his leadership and positivity will be felt for years to come.

On a happier note, the Holiday Season is rapidly approaching. This is the time of year for us all to look around our lives and be thankful for all the blessings that God has given us. When I take stock of all the good things that God has given me, family and friends are at the top of my list, and like you, our Elks Lodge is a mix of both. You are all my friends and truly part of my extended family. We share time together, we do volunteer work together and we break bread together. Like all families, we have our differences and don’t always agree with everyone, but part of being a family is loving one another regardless of differences. This includes differences in race, ethnicity or whom someone loves. Some Members, unfortunately, have made disparaging comments while at the bar regarding race or sexual preference. These comments are being heard by fellow Elks and have on several occasions caused people to stay away from the Lodge. I remind you all that these comments are hurtful and will not be tolerated. We are all individuals who have come together to work towards a common goal of service and fraternity. We are a family. Let us all work together to put aside perceived differences and instead concentrate on what drew us all together in the first place, being the best Elk and the best person we can be.

Lastly, I would like to touch on a subject that Exalted Rulers in the past have never had to contend with. That is social media. We all have become used to the sight of people constantly updating their various accounts and keeping up with friends and family via all manner of gadgets. We all have to remember that when becoming and Elk, part of our Oath of Obligation is to refrain from using our membership in the BPOE for political or sectarian purposes. We are not allowed to use Elk symbols or logos to support personal opinions. So, as you engage in social media, before you press that send or post button, take a moment and think. Is this a political post, or one that supports a business? If so, do not add reference to the Elks. If you are going to post a picture taken in the Lodge, ask yourself how this picture represents the Lodge specifically and the Elks in general. Let’s all work together to present our Lodge in the best possible light.

I look forward to seeing all of you at the Lodge at all our events throughout this Holiday Season.

Fraternally,

Vicki Baker