Elks Lodge: Investing in youth and community
February 27, 2015
Even a herd with small numbers can still do great things, as is apparent with the philanthropy of the Benevolent and Protectorate Order of Elks Lodge No. 1577.
Whether they're striving to provide funds for local students, working with veterans, encouraging aspiring athletes or just organizing a game of Bingo, the Craig Elks do their part to make their community a better place.
While the national service group traces its origins as far back as the 1860s, the Craig branch has been in operation since 1938, said Frank Sadvar, the chapter's Exalted Ruler.
Within the last year, the Craig Elks gave out $2,000 in scholarships, part of more than $2.6 million given out across the country through the Elks National Foundation. Sadvar said the Elks are the second-largest scholarship distribution in the world.
"There's only one bigger, and that's Uncle Sam," he said.
High school students can get as much as $50,000 for college through various levels, and while no Craig kids have gotten this much, several in the past have been able to get the legacy awards that go toward families of members.
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According to the ENF Board of Trustees' annual appropriations and distributions report, in the last fiscal year about 15 percent of $26.5 million raised by the organization went to scholarships, while more than 32 percent went to community investment programs and 5 percent to youth programs.
Locally, that meant $2,000 to the local food bank, while $5,000 was used for the Hoop Shoot free throw contest. Drug awareness programs have also been local projects.
Sadvar has also worked with members to get other endeavors rolling, including more youth sports and, but one of the biggest hindrances has been bringing in more people.
"Our big push right now is membership, membership, membership," he said. "A lot of organizations like Kiwanis and American Legion are hurting for that right now, too."
At its peak, the Elks in Craig consisted of about 700 residents, while today it's just below 70.
"I'm amazed how many people tell me, 'Oh, I didn't know the Elks were still going,'" Sadvar said. "Wrong, the Elks are still going, and we're going strong. As long as I can do it, we're not going to fold this thing."
While Sadvar continues to seek new blood for the organization, it's also important in his view that the traditions and past affiliates who helped the Lodge at 43 W. Victory Way get to where it was in its heyday. The hallowed hall on the building's second floor was once a hopping spot for community dances and was recently used for a get-together following the Art Walk and Taste of Chocolate, and Sadvar said he would love to see this brought back again.
Having been a member for 50 years, he is a third-generation Elk whose father and grandfather can be found among the names of cherished plaques that pay tribute to those who spent much of their lives living out the organization's ideals.
"An Elk is never forgotten," Sadvar said with pride.
Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com.