As we all know this past year has been very difficult. Covid 19 has interfered with the work of our association. We were asked by Grand Exalted Ruler Paul Ryan and President Anthony Gause to become more creative in accomplishing our goals. As we put the last year behind us, I’m in hopes that the 2021-22 year will get us back to business as usual. We must all come together as a team and work hard to meet our goals.
Therefore, my motto for the 2021-22 year is AIM For Success. When people look at my coin, I get asked, “What does AIM stands for”. After 37 plus years in the military the one thing I did learn was the use of acronyms. The “A” reminds us to remain Active, the “I” represents Integrity, and the “M” stands for Motivate. By remaining Active, always acting with Integrity, and motivating others to do the same we can grow our organization, meet our goals, and continue to move toward the future as a successful organization.
My Coin. You just heard me explain my motto which is on the coin. Now let me explain the rest. The red represents our Veterans who continue to protect our freedoms. It also serves as a reminder to wear red on Fridays in recognition of their sacrifices. The white represents a new start or beginning after a long year of covid restrictions. After a slow and challenging 2020-2021 year we must become more active, focus on our goals, and meet the goals of our Association.
Speaking of Goals. My first goal is one that I find important to our communications. As you know we have a very busy and at times overwhelmed Public Relations Team. There is no doubt that the Maine Elks Association website can and should be more accessible along with easier to navigate for all members. I would like to ask our Public Relations Advisor Wayne Cotterly, and Committee members to continue to meet and develop a new user friendly and easily updated website which provides more updated information for our members. But more help is needed. The Public Relations Committee is need of volunteers to assist in its efforts to provide an informative website that’s full of useful information. I would also ask our Officers and membership to support this, as my goal is to have this website up and running by the end of this year.
It is no doubt that our membership numbers have been affected by the pandemic. We started last year strong with 10,712 members, and as of recent report we have 10238. That’s a loss of 474 with over 3000 delinquent members. We must become more active in recruiting and retention. I would like to challenge our Membership Chair Melinda Voisine, and every Lodge Membership Committee Chairperson, to increase our membership numbers by 2% or higher in each Lodge for the coming year. We must motivate our members to become active in this important drive which can only keep our Association strong…. We can do this.
As you have always heard the Elks National Foundation is considered the life blood of our Order, so is it equally important to our Association. The ENF provides funding to support our programs like Hoopshoot, Soccer Shoot, and Drug Awareness, just to name a few. I wish to ask everyone’s help in reaching my goal of ALL 20 Lodges meeting the GER per capita goal for the 2021-22 year. Also, I would like to set a dollar amount goal of $125,000 raised. I know our new ENF Chair David Hammond from the Waterville Lodge will work hard to make this happen, so please support his efforts, donate to the ENF, and motivate others to do the same.
Elks Training! A program we can all participate in. I have always found that every time I participate, I learn something new. I would like to ask President Elect Al Ingraham to provide and manage the Elks Training for this coming year. Whether he distributes an updated paper training course, or utilizes the Grand Lodge Training programs on Elks.org, my goal is to have every Lodge Officer participate in this important training opportunity. While I’m talking about training, I also ask that each lodge ER, Lodge Officers, and any members attend the Elks Learning Seminar led by Co-Chairman PSPs Claris Ranger and Bruce Brunelle. A lot of time and effort goes into this valuable training program and we should all take advantage of it.
My next goal is to support our Veterans. Our State Veterans Chairman David Hassen and his team of volunteers work hard behind the scenes working with the VA and other organizations who do so much for our homeless Veterans. As an Elks Veteran Assistance Volunteer, I know firsthand how important this program is and what the needs are. I would like to ask that each Lodge build or purchase two, TWO Welcome Home kits to support the Maine Elks Association Homeless Veterans efforts. These kits can be stored in your Lodge or at our Veteran Furniture locations in Presque Isle, Bangor, or Augusta. So please support our homeless Veteran’s needs. They need our help.
Our Youth is another group of people that can use our help. As we prepare for the future, we must think about those who will become our leaders in the community, who will protect our resources, and ensure that what we started, continues. So, I ask that each Lodge start a new youth program this coming year which recognizes our youth for the accomplishments they have made. Whether it be through Scouting, the Antlers Program, or Student recognition programs, we can promote strong and healthy futures for our youth.
Soccer shoot is another Youth program that I would like to see an increased participation. Our new Soccer Shoot Chairman PDD Shawn Stacey, from the Bangor Lodge is already planning for a successful program. I would ask for your help in support of Shawn’s efforts and ask every Lodge to assign an active Lodge Soccer Shoot Chairperson and hold a soccer shoot this coming year.
We must also continue to support our youth programs like the Dictionary Project, Hoop Shoot, and Scholarships to name a few. The future of our youth is important to us and our communities.
As you know our communities are being infected more and more by serious drugs like Fentanyl, Heroin, and NOW, Marijuana is legal and readily available. Participation in our Drug Awareness Program is a must. Every year our Drug Awareness Chairman, PSP Anthony Gause holds two Drug Awareness Seminars offering our Lodge Officers and Drug Awareness Chairman an opportunity to get caught up on the Grand Lodge program, and provide drug information updates on our State. I ask for 100% participation in this important program and 100% attendance at the Seminar. We need to get this message out to our youth and the community.
The next goal I have is in Ritual. I believe ritual plays an important part in our display of our heritage and traditions. There is no doubt that when an impressive initiation ritual is performed, our new members remember the day. While attending the recent 11 o’clock toast competition in Waterville, I noticed there were more Past Exalted Rulers than Exalted Rulers competing. I feel that this piece of the ritual is important and should not go to the way side. I would like to ask that each Exalted Ruler practice this piece of ritual, and participate in this competition. My goal is a simple one to meet, 100% participation in the 11 O’clock Toast Competition by our Exalted Rulers.
My next goal is a Lofty one. The Maine Children’s Cancer Program is very important to me. Every one of us sitting here today know of someone who has a child with cancer, or who lost a child to cancer. In the early 80s I lost a nephew to neuroblastoma who was only 5 years old. Today neuroblastoma that has spread throughout the body has a 10 times higher survival rate in children due to extensive research and donations from people like us. Since the start of our MCCP program our efforts to assist in the fight against childhood cancer have resulted in over 5 million dollars raised. We must continue to raise these funds, and my goal for the coming year will be to raise another $300,000.00. I know this is a lofty goal but if we work together, we can and will meet this goal.
Lastly, I would like to talk on Lodge Operations. I ask that we all go back and look at our own Lodge Operations. Whether you are an Exalted Ruler, Officer, or a Lodge Committee Chairman go back to your Lodge and review your process and ensure good business practices are being followed. Ensure we are doing the right thing by following our Statutes, Manuals and Protocols to ensure your Lodge remains strong and prosperous. If you need assistance reach out to your District Deputies for guidance. Also remember that your State Association members are always available to assist. As we review our processes look around at your core of volunteers in the lodge. Remember to thank them and reward them for their efforts. Let’s make our members feel that sense of belonging. By doing so we can increase our member’s willingness to become Officers, and volunteers in the Lodge.
Monika and I look forward to visiting every Lodge in the State. We hope to see our old friends and meet some new ones in your Lodge. We thank you ahead of time if you purchase a gift for us, but ask that you not feel obligated to do so. We would like to ask that in place of a gift that you hold an MCCP fundraiser in your Lodge during our visit.
In closing, I ask for each and every one to commit to the goals that I have set for the coming year. I am also in hopes that the current covid restrictions will be relaxed soon so we can all get back to work on our charitable fundraisers. We must all work together to ensure another successful year for the Maine Elks Association. By remembering to “Aim for Success” our State Association will prosper and grow. Thank you for being here today and most importantly Thank You for belonging to the best charitable organization I know.
Congratulations and Thanks to the incoming Officers. I look forward to working with all of you in the completion of our goals.