BY LOGAN MCCOURTNEY –
Ronald Reagan once said, “We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.” This quote is most certainly true and one that everyone can strive towards in order to make their community a better place. Marty Caldwell, member of the local Elks Lodge, fully embodies what it means to lend a helping hand.
Marty has been a member of the local lodge for 30 years now and at the end of the year is eligible for the Lifetime Membership of the Elks. “The requirements are to be an active member for 30 years and be 65 or older. I meet both of those requirements,” smiles Marty. Being born and raised in Polk County, Marty has called the area home for as long as he can remember. “I was born at Rich Mountain and I worked at the airport for a real long time, Mena is home.”
In 1966 Marty was drafted into the Army. At the time, he was working at the airport, but it was his time to serve. Marty spent two years working on a tug boat in the engine room. “I had never heard of or been on a tug boat. It didn’t turn out to be a bad thing though, it was a good place to be for two years,” Marty says chuckling. After returning to Mena when his service was fulfilled, Marty was at a friends wedding when he first heard about the Elks, “A friend of mine had gotten married and then he had his reception at the Elks when it was still downtown. I went to the reception, met some of the people and enjoyed it.” Thirty years later and Marty is thankful to be an Elk.
The Elks was established in 1868 and began its mission to build stronger communities. With more than 850,000 members, the Elks continues to grow nationwide. Each member, when initiated, makes a promise to live by four components: brotherly love, justice, charity, and fidelity. The Elks selflessly pour time and resources into Mena in order to meet the rising needs of the community. This can be done in a variety of ways. Locally, the Elks hosts fishing derbies for kids, pack elderly food baskets, and help with a toy drive just to name a few. Marty is no exception, he has been faithfully serving the community since becoming a member of the local lodge.
Recently, the Elks held their National Convention in Reno Nevada, celebrating 150 years of service in communities around America. Many men and women were recognized because of their work in their local lodges. One of those recognized was Marty for his service to Veterans. The Elks National Veterans Service Commission selected members from each state whom they felt went above and beyond serving veterans throughout the year. Marty was nominated from Arkansas as the 2016-2017 Veteran Volunteer of the Year. “I don’t feel like I did anything special to deserve the award. I was only doing what everybody should be doing, serving.” Marty has been serving as an Elks National Veteran Service Commission Representative. In his current position, he has been serving local veterans in a variety of ways.
While Marty would certainly never serve to earn an award, his service reminds us of something: in a world that is often too busy and many bad things take place, Marty’s life and award are proof that we still need and want heroes like Marty in our community.