The journey of a young man was shared following his recent acceptance of a scholarship to attend a four-year university.
“I’ve known him and his parents for probably 10 to 15 years,” said Phillip Byrd, master of social services for Fort Erie Elks Lodge. “The thing was I didn’t he realize he was one of the youths that was offered a partial scholarship through the Elks. He’s attending Southern Illinois University, which for us, it’s good to see one of the kids we’ve known for some time have the wherewithal and the aptitude to be well-deserving of a scholarship.”
The story outlines the impact Fort Erie Elks Lodge No. 167 has on people in the community.
“We’re living in a time where everybody’s not middle class,” Byrd said. “There are people in this town, in particular, with the jobs that have gone away, you see a lot of empty homes around here. People are leaving for a reason because they don’t get the help and the assistance that they need. When you let people know there’s someone that still cares about them, they’re willing to give and not ask for anything in return, they feel a lot better about themselves.”
Fork Erie Elks Lodge was established in 1909 as a non-profit organization serving the community. When it started, they drew in a number of people working in various industries as doctors, lawyers, plumbers, carpenters, electricians and mechanics.
“[We had] just about every realm of work [involved,] so that you didn’t have to go outside of the lodge to have that type of work done, and, of course, through the years that has depreciated a little bit,” Byrd said. “We still have plumbers, electricians, a lawyer and some doctors.”
Members strive to be of assistance to children and families in the area in various ways.
“If someone is in need and it’s brought to our attention, whether it’s a child or an adult, we will do what we can to offer them some assistance, whether it’s monetarily or food,” Byrd said. “We try to offer assistance to any and everybody. You can come to the Elks and [tell us] your situation. We will do what we can to help you get over this little hump that you’re in.”
The non-profit organization runs a scholarship program, in which two awards are offered annually to students who intend to continue their education.
“There’s going to be third added, but at this particular moment, there’s only two scholarships that we offer,” Byrd said.
Fort Erie Elks Lodge receives support from a number of individuals and groups who make donations enabling the group to make scholarships possible. They seek out area churches to determine who needs help, and the organization sets out to help those individuals.
Fort Erie Elks Lodge has a number of functions it holds for members of the community, including its Halloween party, Easter egg hunt and a back-to-school picnic. Events are designed to bring the people together.
Fort Erie Elks Lodge has 35 active members, to date. There are a number of other Elks Lodges in and around the area, as well.
Byrd said to say that Fort Erie Elks Lodge has been serving the community as long as it has and working under the same system, he think says a lot about the organization.
“We’re always looking to grow, we’re always looking to be an organization that is willing to welcome any and everyone in,” he said.
Fort Erie Elks Lodge is open to new members. Meetings are held the second and fourth Sundays of every month at 3545 State St., in Lockport. For more information, call (815) 722 -5813.