Youth, Veteran Volunteers

With the decentralization of veterans health care and the decrease in warehousing of veterans at VAMCs, the methods of care we extend to these deserving individuals is fast becoming obsolete. The days of ice cream socials and bingos are just about over.

The challenge facing the Elks National Veterans Service Commission and our volunteers is, "How do we continue Serving Our Nation's Veterans?"

One way that we can continue to enhance the level of comfort for the ailing veterans of our Armed Forces is to involve our youth. For years, the Order of Elks has run programs for our youth - ENF Most Valuable Student Scholarship - Vocational Grants - Emergency Grants for Children of Deceased Elks - Eagle Scout Scholarships - Girl Scout Scholarships - Hoop Shoot - Soccer Shootout. We have always given to our youth never expecting anything in return.

Now is the time to involve our youth - to ask them to give something back to the Community. This challenge is not as difficult to achieve as one might think.

The goals set by the April 1997 Presidential Summit held in Philadelphia were for the Elks to provide after-school programs and one on one mentoring for students.

One of the results of the Presidential Summit held in Philadelphia in Spring 1997 was that students entering high school in Fall 1998 would be expected to become involved in community service. These students would be required to have a specific amount of hours of community service before being allowed to graduate with their class.

We, as Elks, have now established a program for our youth with a new twist. Instead of giving something to them, we are asking them to give something back to the community by working with and for those who helped secure the comforts they enjoy today, our nation's veterans. We will meet the goals established at the Presidential Summit and continue to meet our commitment to serving our nation's veterans.

The Elks National Veterans Service Commission and the Grand Lodge Youth Activities Committee have formed a partnership in this endeavor, which will add a new, glorious chapter to the history of Elkdom. We just might instill in these young men and women the spirit of volunteerism that we grew up with. We might even sow the seeds that will encourage them to join the Elks when they turn twenty-one.