While living in Oxnard, Calif. in 1966, it was an honor for me to be accepted as a member into the Elks Lodge. After moving to different states, I transferred my membership to support the local Elks Lodge. At the present time, it is estimated that more than 2,000 Elks Lodges are across the country and an Elk member is welcome to enter any of them.
The Elks are the largest and most active fraternal organizations in the world. A few years ago, I decided to permanently establish membership in the place of my birth, Elks Lodge 2206, Lawrenceburg, Tennessee. I now live in the Northwest Panhandle of Florida, and my closest lodge is located at Pensacola Beach, Florida overlooking the sugar white beaches and beautiful blue/green water of the Gulf of Mexico. On Feb. 27, Pensacola Beach Elks Lodge presented a fundraiser dinner (barbecue) and auction and raised $9,100 for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life.
For those of you that are not familiar with the Elks, please read on.
The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks (BPOE; also often known as the Elks Lodge or simply The Elks) is an American fraternal order and social club founded in 1868. It is one of the leading fraternal orders in the U.S., claiming nearly one million members.
The Elks had modest beginnings in 1868 as a social club (then called the "Jolly Corks") established as a private club to elude New York City laws governing the opening hours of public taverns. After the death of a member left his wife and children without income, the club took up additional service roles, rituals and a new name. Desiring to adopt "a readily identifiable creature of stature, indigenous to America", fifteen members voted 8-7 to favor the elk above the buffalo. Early members were mostly from theatrical performing troupes in New York City. It has since evolved into a major American fraternal, charitable, and service order with more than a million members, both men and women, throughout the United States.
Deceased and otherwise absent lodge members are recalled each evening at 11 p.m. when the lodge esquire intones, "It is the Hour of Recollection." The exalted ruler or a member designated by him gives the 11 o'clock toast, of which this version is the most common:
Established in 1928, the Elks National Foundation is the charitable arm of the BPOE. The foundation, with an endowment valued at more than $400 million, has contributed $253.5 million toward Elks' charitable projects nationwide.
The national headquarters, known as the Grand Lodge, is located in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago at the southwest corner of Diversey Pkwy, Sheridan Rd, Lakeview Ave, and Cannon Dr. Local Elks Lodges, known as subordinate lodges, are located in about 2,100 cities and towns across the United States and its territories (as of 2006). There is one Elks lodge overseas, in Metro Manila, the Philippines, a former US territory; only American citizens can be members.