Founded in 1902, the Vancouver Elks Lodge #823 celebrated its centennial birthday on December 20, 2002. The 830-member Lodge is one of 2,100 Lodges nationwide that forms the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the U.S.A, with a membership of just under one million members. Their charitable arm is the Elks National Foundation.
The Vancouver Elks Lodge is also one of 40 Lodges statewide that forms the Washington State Elks Association with membership totaling over 38,000 members. Their charitable arm is the Washington State Elks Therapy Program.
The Elks are responsible for starting several national and statewide programs:
First ever Veterans loans in 1918.
Initiated funding and built a wing for the Seattle Children's Hospital in 1928.
Starting Flag Day in 1911, which was recognized by Harry Truman (an Elk) who made it an official day of recognition in 1949.
The Washington State Elks Therapy Program for children was started 48 years ago and is supported by all the 48 Lodges in the state. 86% of all funds go toward paying for free quality physical therapy for children. Therapy is performed by licensed physical and occupational therapists and patients are selected based on medical condition, age, family locale and availability of resources.
The mission of the Vancouver Elks Lodge is to promote and foster charity, justice, brotherly love, fidelity and patriotism by contributing to the local community, assisting those in need, supporting our veterans, and promoting patriotism.
For the past 100 years, the Vancouver Elks Lodge has been responsible for several "firsts" or leadership roles in the state of Washington:
The first Lodge to donate shoes to needy kids in 1909 in Washington State.
Started the first July 4th Vancouver fireworks display.
Sponsors scout troop #316, which has more Eagle Scouts (158) on record than any other troop in the nation.
From 1991 to 1996, the Vancouver Elks Lodge supported the Miss Washington pageant by hosting dinners for contestants, sponsors and parents, donating $6,000/ per year in scholarships.
Elected a woman to the top position of Exalted Ruler in 1999.
Donated use of the lodge to the first Young Marine program in Portland/Vancouver
Has donated over $2.4 Million to programs for:
The funding of local participants at the annual Hoop Shoot national tournament
Boys and Girls Scouts
Santa goes to schools (24 years)
Annual Oaks Park Day for children, as part of school patrol program
Easter egg hunts
Toys to underprivileged children
4th of July Celebration
Educated primary grades in Clark County to dangers of drugs
Developed materials for high schools
Food baskets for single parents
East Vancouver Childcare Center
Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the United States of America
The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the United States of America is one of the oldest and largest fraternal organizations in the country. Since its inception in 1868, the Order of Elks has grown to include nearly 1.2 million men and women in almost 2,200 communities.
The BPO Elks is committed to the ideals of charity and patriotism. To that end, Elks have now disbursed over the Order's 132 years more than $2.69 billion in cash, goods, and services to the nation's youth, its veterans, the disadvantaged and handicapped, and in support of patriotic and civic programs. In the 1998-99 fiscal year alone, the BPO Elks expended in such fashion over $160 million, and the Order ranks as one of the largest private providers of college scholarships in the nation.
The Elks have created a quiet network of good deeds that has profoundly changed millions of lives for the better, yet there is little public awareness of the impact of their vital work. Why is this so? Quite simply, the Elks have rarely sought recognition, neither have they gone to the general public with fund-raising efforts nor received monies from any level of government. Indeed, the flow of money and goods moves in the opposite direction: the Elks donated to the government the first veterans hospital; contribute regularly to schools and police and fire departments; and assist the young and the needy throughout this great nation.
How could this powerful force have come into being? And where does all this charitable giving come from? From the generous hearts of Elks members whose willingness to share, whose prudent long-term planning, and whose time devoted to serve--for free and with enthusiasm--infuses the Order with an exuberant and enduring expression of the true volunteer spirit.
Of note is that the elected leadership of the BPO Elks--from the Exalted Rulers of the local Lodges to the national president, known as the Grand Exalted Ruler, and other decision-makers at the various levels--serve without salaries.
The organization of the Elks is democratic representation, with overall statutes set through voting at national conventions. The BPO Elks national headquarters is based in Chicago. The Chicago campus is also the site of the Elks Veterans Memorial Building; the home of the Elks National Foundation, the Order's charitable trust; the Elks National Veterans Service Commission; and The Elks Magazine, the official publication that is sent to every member of the Order.