Members of the Vernon Elks Lodge #46 have been making the community a better place to live for 93 years. The members contributed $25,000 to various local organizations last year with the women of the Royal Purple contributing an additional $12,000.
Now they’re continuing fundraising activities for this year’s contributions.
The Elks, as they are generally known, began as a fraternal organization, the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks (BPOE) in New York in 1868. The first Canadian lodge started in Vancouver in 1912, with the Vernon lodge chartered in 1920. Some people say BPOE could also stand for Best People on Earth for the members’ service to others in need.
“We have an emphasis on helping children with hearing difficulties. There’s nothing better than to present a child with a hearing aid that can change their lives forever. We also pay for speech therapy as needed,” said Ole Sather who has been an Elks Lodge member for 15 years, 10 in Vernon.
His wife, Maureen Sather, has also been a member for 10 years, using her background in account management as secretary/treasurer. Women have been accepted as lodge members since the 1990s and some are members of Elks and the associated Royal Purple.
“The lodge has been here in Vernon in this building for more than 80 years, it used to be a church. We had a couple who were married in the church come here for their 50th wedding anniversary celebration. Still, it’s amazing how many people don’t know the building is here and what the lodge does in the community,” said Maureen.
One of the lodge’s most popular activities, open to the public, is the Friday night suppers. This is a full home-cooked meal for $9, and usually attracts more than 100 people. There are bi-monthly crib tournaments organized by Exalted Ruler Bill McDonald. The newly renovated hall is available for rental and catered events like weddings, parties, celebrations of life and other meetings for groups of 50 to about 100. The Elks hall is the home of the Sadok Ukrainian Dancers.
The fundraisers allow the Elks to make contributions to a variety of charities, including Light A Bulb, the Vernon Treatment Centre, BMX Races (youth), the 4-H Clubs, the Humane Society, the Salvation Army, Santas Anonymous, Mara House, and others, including individual families as needed. The hall is available to people holding fundraisers for those in need. The Elks also provide bursaries.
The Elks lodges of B.C. maintain three camps in the province, the newest on Shuswap Lake near Canoe, that are provided free to charitable organizations as a space to run children’s camps.
“Elks exist solely for the benefit of the community. It’s very fulfilling to be able to help so many people,” said Maureen.
Members like the opportunity to build relationships in the community when volunteers from some of the organizations they help come back to help them with their fundraisers.
Elaine Gallacher of etcConsulting has been volunteering with the lodge for four years.
“We are fortunate to have the Elks here. I think people don’t always realize how much they do. They could use more members or volunteers or both,” she said.
The Elks are going to keep doing as much as they can.
“This is all very rewarding. We’re very lucky in this community. We want to thank Katherine Mortimer at The Morning Star for always getting our notices in the Community Calendar, that really helps us out,” said Ole. “I think we’ll be here for a long time, hopefully for another 100 years.”
For more information about the Elks activities or hall rentals call 250-549-1883. The hall is at 3103-30 St., Vernon.