When Guy Mullen arrived in the town of Altona, he felt like a stranger—until he joined the Elks Lodge.
“I was new in town, feeling like there was nothing to do. I didn’t know anybody,” says Mullen. “Then I joined, and suddenly I had friends and a family! I was involved in the community, building friendships, getting to know people.”
In no time flat, Mullen was also pitching in on the many charitable causes the Elks support. He has been a member of the Elks ever since.
Building connections while working together to make the town better has been the mission of the Altona Elks for over five decades. The group will celebrate its 60th anniversary next year.
“Working for the Elks is a good time,” says Rendal Giesbrecht, who has been a member for 43 years. “I’m maybe a little bit selfish too: it feels good when you help somebody else.”
The Elks are involved in a tremendous range of activities to support and raise funds for charities. The lodge dedicates fundraising efforts to three different categories: medical, school and community. Over the years, the Altona lodge has raised over $1 million for the community.
On the medical front, the lodge has helped with everything from the purchase of an incubator for Altona Hospital to buying eyeglasses, hearing aides and speaking devices for children in need.
In the area of school, the lodge started Altona’s Safe Grad program, purchased playground equipment, bought a smart board for a local school, and kickstarted the local “You Got This” teen mental health workshop.
On the community front, the lodge sponsors numerous local sports programs, like public skating and minor hockey teams. The lodge also supports families who’ve been affected by house fires, donates to the local Food Bank and built a $90,000 indoor playground so area kids would have a place to play in the winter.
But while it supports many worthy causes, the Elks have a special place in their heart for supporting children with hearing and speech issues.
“If it wasn’t for the Elks, there would be no early detection of hearing issues in Manitoba,” says Rheina Schellenberg, another longtime member of the lodge. “We pushed very hard for government funding years ago, and since then it’s been our backbone.”
As the lodge approaches its 60th birthday, Danyne Hoeppner, who has been a member since she was 18 and is now its president, has one birthday wish for the organization: more members.
“We have 32 members right now, and we’d like to get up to 100,” she says. “Anybody who wants to help children is welcome. The more diverse we are, the better we can help the community.”
Anyone over the age of 18 is welcome to join the lodge. Membership is free for the first year.
“There’s a lot you get personally from being an Elks member,” says Schellenberg. “We help you grow as a person, as a leader and within your community.
“You get way more out of it than what you put in.”
To learn about how to get involved, you can get in touch with Danyne Hoeppner at 204-324-7800 or Danynehoeppner@gmail.com. Meetings are held the first and third Tuesday of every month.
This story was created by Content Works, Postmedia’s commercial content division, on behalf of the Altona Elks Lodge.