On August 18th, 2019 over 140 lodge members and Community Volunteers pulled together to embrace the youth of our local communities with backpacks, school supplies, sneakers, winter clothing, personal products, healthy snacks and even lunch.
Mike and Lina shared, “What started on a whim, 3 years ago, when Mike was Exalted Ruler, has turned out to be an Annual Event at our Lodge.” Lina worked as a Licensed Social Worker in Child Protective Services for several years and saw firsthand the need for support of children returning to school from summer break. Unfortunately, many had as little as a few pencils in a plastic shopping bag.
After learning that 60 percent of the families from our local communities were living below poverty level, we knew we couldn’t possibly turn our back to this need and vowed to be the voice that would create awareness.
Beginning with an Elks National Foundation Anniversary Grant in 2017, followed up with additional support of lodge members and our Community, we put our best foot forward preparing to serve 150 Students. Little did we know, the need was much greater and we had to turn away 300+ students, that first year.
Over the ensuing three years we’ve built a phenomenal Committee and a strong foundation to move the program to the next level, pulling in City Officials, School Administrators, Teachers and Area Businesses, Clubs, Organizations and Individuals that want to join our mission.
This year we were able to serve nearly 500 Students and expect that this program will grow, year-to-year.
We encourage other Lodges throughout the State of Maine to initiate a similar program to support our youth. We are willing to help and are only a phone call away.
Best, Mike “Shu” and Lina Michaud