BY MELANIE WADE –
The Mena Elks Lodge recently received a national award for their dedicated service to the community. Mena Elks Lodge #781 Exhaulted Ruler, Brian Thompson, along with longtime member, Marty Caldwell, traveled to Reno, Nevada to receive the award at their national Grand Lodge Convention. Mena Elks is considered a Division Two Lodge, having between 300-500 members and received the 3rd place national award in that category. “I am very proud of Mena #781,” said Thompson. “For us to receive this award, it very much humbles us, but we are also very proud. It’s not something we expected.”
He explained that their benevolence to the community is what garnered them the accolade. “All lodges keep up with charitable report forms, volunteer hours for members and non-members, programs they do from fishing derbies to food baskets, and everything in between. The national organization looks at the hours and work and lodges gain points off of that.” And this year, those points garnered them national recognition.
Mena Elks Lodge benefits many individuals and organizations around the area including veterans, elderly, and children. They frequently visit the elders and veterans in nursing homes, taking them care packages, mother’s and father’s day gifts, and hosting cookouts for them. “Sometimes just sitting and visiting with them, it means the world to them,” he smiled. They also give elderly food baskets and kids’ Christmas baskets during the holidays, as well as host a spectacular 4th of July event each year. “We bring 500-plus kids to see Santa every year.” In addition, they assist local scout troops, award deputy and students of the month, and present drug awareness programs to youth.
Thompson is proud of their membership and their dedication to the community. “We are not a dance hall.” He continued, “It’s our benevolent programs that we do within the county that shows who we are. With exception of the Christmas program and 4th of July, everything else we do is off our grounds.”
Thompson said their lodge recently added up how much financial benevolence they have poured into the community since they first opened their doors in Mena, 115 years ago. “Since our inception, the Elks has given $4,988,000 to Polk County.”
While in Reno to receive the national award, Caldwell also received a National Veteran Service Award. You can read more about Caldwell, his role at the Mena Elks Lodge, and his award in this week’s Citizen of the Week feature on page 14 of this issue.