Members from Elks lodges across the province gathered for the 90th Annual Provincial Conference this week, as a chance to make decisions about the future and catch up with one another.
The organization has been doing charity work across this province for over 100 years, donating to a number of local initiatives and to their national charity, providing hearing and speech support for children.
But celebrating at their convention this year, national president Ron Potter took time to note that a younger membership is going to be necessary to keep the camaraderie of the club going.
“We need to bring in some other people and some little bit younger people, to keep this thing rolling for another 110 years,” said Potter. “Volunteers aren't hard to find. It’s getting people to commit to a group or a lodge, to become a member, that’s the tough part.”
“A lot of organizations like ours have bit the dust by trying to ride on their past successes, what they were like 40 years ago,” added Harold Claffey, provincial publicity director. “What's important is this year and next year, and that's what we're trying to focus on.”Current provincial president Eugene Hartter said his slogan for this year has been “the past, the present and the future” because he sees value in reminiscing the history of the club and using the good memories to entice future members’ interest.
The Elks are involved with an incredible amount of national programming, including their low-income housing initiatives unique to Saskatoon and the speech and hearing centres that are helping children in nearly every province.
The new hearing testing program for newborns across the province began with an initiative from the Elks, something they are proud to claim.
None present could begin to estimate how much the club has donated to their charities over the years, as the number is too large. But they all emphasized that the feeling from that accomplishment is what makes the Elks so wonderful to be a part of.
“That's the heaviest, most gratifying thing there is, when you can see what you've done [to help],” said Potter.
The executive director of the Elks of Canada, Kevan McBeth, joined the organization because he experienced first-hand how charities like this one help families.
“[The Elks] change people's lives, in the snap of a finger. It's an incredible thing to see. And once you see it, once you understand it, once you get it, it's pretty hard to ignore,” said McBeth.
He finds purpose in the work he does with the Elks, and encourages others to take the step and get involved.
“I think our goal is just to try and make sure that more people get a chance to see that, get a chance to feel that, so that they can carry on the tradition,” said McBeth.