I share your disappointment at the cancellation of the MEA Spring Convention, and now, the cancellation of the Grand Lodge Convention in Baltimore. Like you, I was looking forward to another great visit with our Michigan friends, sharing good news, recognizing achievements, gaining knowledge, and enjoying our time together. Unfortunately, these are difficult times that require difficult decisions, flexibility, and sacrifice by us all.
As a proud State Sponsor, I enjoy working with so many dedicated Michigan Elks and continue to be impressed by the support for the State Major Project and Gold Key, as well as the many programs for our Youth and Veterans, along with the support for the Elks National Foundation and use of the ENF Community Investment Grants. This support and service helps prove that the Michigan Elks are a reliable partner for the Communities we serve, and makes all Michigan Elks very proud!!.
This has been a challenging year for our Lodges, Districts and State Leaders. First, with the transition to the new Financial Reporting System, and now with the unprecedented Coronavirus crisis. Both will change how we conduct business forever. The FRS will make the reporting of Lodge financials much easier, save annual costs, and make better financial information readily available to the Lodges. The Coronavirus, with its major disruption to operations at all levels, has brought new ideas and resources into play that will undoubtedly change the way we are able to operate in the future.
I congratulate Chuck and Deb Oatten on an excellent year as your State President and First Lady, and offer thanks to the State/District Officers, Grand Lodge representatives and District Deputies for promoting the programs that matter most to all of us, for their assistance and guidance to the Lodges, and for keeping me fully informed on happenings throughout the state.
I offer my very best to incoming State President Jerry Alexie and First Lady, Stephanie, and to all incoming State Officers, who, of necessity, will be Installed by videoconference on May 16th. I know they are ready, willing and able to lead the Michigan Elks and will “hit the road running” immediately after their Installation. While they are denied the usual recognition and celebration of their elections in May, the cancellation of our Spring Convention will make our October Convention even more special.
This is an extraordinary time, a special time for reflection, determination and change. The Elks were founded on the idea of helping others and being a leader in our communities. We have always shined our brightest in times of crisis, and there has rarely been a time of greater need to help each other than now. To assist in that effort, ENF has revised its CIP Grants, lessening restrictions, increasing amounts and providing $14.3M to make it easier for our Lodges to serve the needs of their communities.
The Gratitude Grant is available now, and its $3.7M can be used for an immediate contribution or donation to an organization that is on the front line fighting the Coronavirus Pandemic. All other Grants will be available on June 1st. Take advantage of this “free” money and let your bright light shine!
As things continue to change, and hopefully improve, please stay calm, remain vigilant and be aware of all that is going on around you. In all matters, use your best judgment and common sense, with the health and safety of your Members and Community in mind. Together we will get through these tough times and the Michigan Elks Association and all Lodges will be even stronger because of the experience. In the meantime, even though we are socially distanced, I know we remain fraternally connected!
Sincerely and fraternally,
Ronald L. Hicks, PGER/State Sponsor
“Elks Pride Community Focus”