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Scary Spooky Scholars

 by Grace Roebuck, Elks Scholar Fellow 

Grace at the 2016 MVS Leadership Weekend
You know, when I first heard about the Elks Lodge, I just thought it was a restaurant in my town with a really bopping bingo night. Little did I know, bingo nights like those would soon be the reason I attended the college of my dreams debt-free and recently accepted a dream job, even after graduating into a pandemic-ravaged world.

While I’ve enjoyed every experience I’ve had with my Elks Family, I have to say my love for the Elks really boils down to the scholars I’ve met and connected with throughout the years. In my new role as the Elks Scholar Fellow, I’m tasked with figuring out how to adapt to our new virtual world, which is sadly devoid of scholar service trips. In their place, thanks to the help of our scholars and the ENF, I’ve started to organize events for our Elks scholars to convene and have fun together.

In my favorite event so far, our Spooky Scholar Halloween Party, we had scholars join us from across the country to connect, play games, and enjoy a safe study break. We had five scholar leaders, who helped facilitate games, lead the ice breaker, and guide discussion. Every scholar enjoyed dinner on the ENF and received a special care package with a little pumpkin and some Halloween treats.

Image of Elks scholars wearing Halloween costumes at Zoom event
Elks scholars showed up to the Spooky Scholar Halloween Party in style!

Each scholar was essential to making this event incredibly unique and special. Every time I get to speak with a scholar, I’m continually amazed at their intelligence, accomplishments, and passion for service, all while still being incredibly humble and grateful. Many scholars came with great costumes and funky Zoom backgrounds, setting a terrific tone for the evening. Some scholars emerged as super engaging and charismatic leaders, making sure everyone was comfortable and having fun, while others exhibited great sportsmanship and empathy. Scholars were able to move around virtual breakout rooms and join different games. The night ended an hour past the expected time, and scholars took the opportunity to connect with their Elks Family, new and old.

The virtual programming series is an evolving process. It will grow based on scholar feedback and continue to ebb and flow to best fit our scholars’ needs. If you have any ideas on how to improve scholar engagement and our virtual events, I’d love for you to reach out to me at GraceR@elks.org.

So, I guess in retrospect, the Elks is a little more than a restaurant, but I’m not playing bingo anymore and still feel like I hit the jackpot. I am so grateful for each and every scholar I have the pleasure of interacting with, for the Elks National Foundation, and for my local Elks Lodge (shout out to South Kingstown, R.I., Lodge No. 1899). I hope, in time, I can help our Elks scholars feel the same.

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