Sunday, June 7, 2009

Elks Lodge #531 & Daughters #344: "Stepping Out In White"

It was a fancy evening, during which members of the Elks Lodge #531 and the Daughters of the Elks #344, "stepped out in white" to raise money for community projects and events.

To see more pictures of the event, please click Stepping Out in White

"Most of the things we do are fundraisers for our programs," says Stanford (Stan) Treece, Exalted Ruler of the Clinch Mountain Order of Elks #531. "This particular event we do for the Daughters of Elks #344. The Daughters always wear white, because their mission is pure, and the Brothers of Elks honor them by dressing in white, to show unity for their purpose."

"Just about every year, we try to have an event like this one, always working together. They are an auxillary of our lodge, and we always support them under the same umbrella," says Mr. Treece.

One thing that moves the theme of unity, is that the "Stepping Out in White" event also unites Elks Lodges from Chattanooga, Knoxville, and Oak Ridge with their Kingsport brothers. They arrived in style to the Kingsport function.

"For years, long before I joined, we'd do things separately," says new Elks member Phillip Trammel, Jr. "Even though we were brother organizations.. we did our thing and they did theirs. It feels good to see this many people coming out from Knoxville and Oak Ridge to celebrate something that we're having up here. It's a good time to be an Elk right now, with everybody trying to help each other. We always return the favor and travel to some of the brother Elks' functions, too to show our support to them, just like they do for us."

One thing most Elks Lodges are facing these days, is attrition.. not by member resignation or members just wearing out. Many of them are simply passing away, leaving the ranks of the Elks thinning out at an alarming rate.

"It's important to have the camraderie right now," says longtime Elks member Lonnie Cox. "We're losing our members right and left. We've got a membership campaign going right now, and this 'Stepping Out in White' event is a positive thing that shows new prospective member, how we keep the friendships going, the relationships we have with other lodges, and how we support the Daughters of Elks in their various community projects."

"We also brought in eight new brothers, which is good for the Clinh Mountain Lodge," says Mr. Treece. "At the convention in Knoxville, Kingsport was well represented. The emphasis right now for us is memberships, unity and fellowships."

"Stepping Out in White is just one of the events we are promoting," says Lonnie. "We helped sponsor the Easter Egg Hunt, the Martin Luther King event, and the New Vision Youth Prom. It's good for Riverview, too. They'll be building the new HOPE VI houses soon and fixing up the Dobbins Center. For a long time, blacks could only socialize here in the neighborhood, and then places opened up and folks started going away to socialize. We're trying to do things that will bring them back to the community."

"Some people thought we were gone as an organization," says Mr. Treece, "but we are still here on our mission. This night, we've got great camraderie from our brothers from Chattanooga, Oak Ridge, Knoxville. It's wonderful to get all these people together, with the idea of doing for the community."

"The Elks is one of the biggest civic organizations in the world, founded in 1898 by Benjamin Franklin Howard," he says. "Oprah Winfrey won one of our oratorical contests.. Thurgood Marshall won one of them, Martin Luther King Junior won one of our oratical contests. We're proud of the tradition of the Elks, and want to continue our service to our communities, especially this one in Riverview."