am writing to make you aware of some things that are going on in the Homer area that you and your neighbors may know nothing about. Something that makes Homer a better place in which to live and raise a family. It is that Elks Lodge down the street that goes, for the most part, unnoticed.
The Homer Elks Lodge is one of approximately 2,000 across the United States and 17 in Alaska. The Homer lodge has 267 members who have among other goals: doing good deeds within the Homer and lower peninsula communities.
One of the mottos of the Elks is “We raise money to give it away.” Let’s just take a minute to see a few of the things being done each year.
Elks are second among organizations in the number of scholarships given annually in the United States. The U.S. government is first. This year, the Alaska State Elks Association (which encompasses all 17 Elks Lodges in Alaska) gave out many scholarships — plus the Homer Lodge gives out $6,000 each year.
One of the many youth activities sponsored by Elks each year attracts more than three million participants. It is the annual Elks Basketball Free Throw Hoop Shoot Contest. The contest starts on the local level, and goes through four more levels, finally reaching the national finals where the 72 best (36 boys and 36 girls) compete at the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. There are eventually three boys and three girls who become champions and have their names forever recorded on the wall of the Hall of Fame. Imagine the hours these kids put in practicing and competition — which keeps them in a positive environment. This year the Homer Elks Lodge had 400-plus participants. There is a similar program for soccer as well.
Another motto the Elks pledge is: “As long as there are veterans, we will never forget them.”
The Alaska State Elks Association worked with the Wounded Warrior Project until it was determined that a local need within the state of Alaska existed. Due to efforts of the Homer Elks Lodge, the Alaska Wounded Veterans Project was established and the Elks Lodges within Alaska have taken numerous returning wounded veterans from the Warrior Transition Units at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Eielson AFB and Fort Wainwright on bear hunting trips, fishing trips, four-wheeler excursions, snowmachine rides and boating trips to name a few of the many adventures.
Kids who wouldn’t otherwise be able to attend a summer camp are able to thanks to the generosity of the Elks Lodge in Homer. Each year up to 100 boys and 100 girls attend the Elks Youth summer camp near Sutton at no cost to them or their families. These kids come from all over the state of Alaska and the Elks pay for all costs associated with travel and the camp. There are 80 acres at the camp and these kids are able to swim in the Elks private lake, and participate in various supervised activities.
Some of the other activities and events that the Homer Elks Lodge is involved with include supporting the police department DARE program; being involved with numerous school sports programs; participating in Veterans Day activities and a luncheon; participating in Flag Day programs; suppporting a senior alcohol-free graduation party; hosting community Mother’s Day and Easter breakfasts; and hosting Easter, Halloween and Christmas parties for children. The lodge facilities also are available for the annual “Share the Spirit” community spaghetti feed and for use for weddings, funerals, etc.
This list could go on and on, but like everything else, a little information goes a long way. Every lodge in this beautiful state of Alaska stands ready to help its community and its state. Just talk to Elks members and you will understand what a treasure you have just down the street.
The officers of the Homer Elks Lodge are as follows: Mike Parish (president), Don Cotogno (vice president), Peggi Patton (second vice president), Greg Martin (third vice president), Jan Jonker (secretary), Mike Riley (treasurer), Jack Jump (chaplain), Norm Schneider (tiler), Don Arseneau (inner guard), and trustees Jack Alexander, Paul Hodgdon, John Chapple II, and Justin Cole.
For more information contact the Homer Elks Lodge at 235-2127 or visit them at 215 Jenny Way.
Perry Streeter is the public relations chair for the Alaska State Elks Association and past president of the Palmer Elks Lodge No. 1842.