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Bullhead City Elks Club to mark 50 years of service in 2019

October 12, 2018

BULLHEAD CITY — With community contributions tallied at well over $1 million in past decade, one might wonder what the total Elks Lodge contribution would be for 50 years of service to Bullhead City.

Members will commemorate the service club’s 50th anniversary next year and the celebration is bound to be memorable.

“We’re still thinking about how to mark the occasion,” said Elks Lodge 2408 spokeswoman Terri Frear.

Elks Lodge 2408 was officially recognized by the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks in 1969. The Elks moved into their lodge on Emerald Drive in 1971.

The early time in Bullhead City was spent documenting progress and building a membership. Frear noted that there was a banner erected not long ago that showed how much money the local Elks raised over a decade for an array of community needs: nearly $1.3 million.

Members of the Elks and its auxiliary regularly neglect to fill out forms that describe what they gave of their time or money or brought in donations, or even when they use their vehicles for Elks business. The decade total, Frear estimated, might actually be double the amount stated — possibly as much as $2.5 million.

While they await their milestone celebration, the organization has several upcoming fundraisers and festivities.

Saturday, Oct. 20 is the lodge’s International Dinner for Elks and their guests at 5 p.m. with dinner at 6 p.m. The potluck costs $5 per person plus a dish representing one’s heritage or simply a childhood favorite.

The Elks Halloween party on Saturday, Oct. 27, benefits the Arizona Elks Clinic for Children and Young Adults at the University of Arizona’s Steele Research Center in Tucson as well as the Arizona Elks Youth Camp. Elks Lodges across the state raise money for these endeavors.

“The children’s ward in Tucson is a major project for all of the Elks lodges in Arizona,” said Auxiliary President Kathleen Clemens.

She said the local Elks lodge has put a lot of effort into helping the clinic.

Call 928-758-2408 for details about these upcoming October events.

The service organization is also well known for its bingo, bunco, charity ball, fashion show, Hometown Heroes Awards and Memorial Day Chili Cook Off. Elks members collect money to provide area high school students with scholarships. They recognize students who have done extraordinary things through their student of the month program.

Various activities support veterans, Special Olympics, Christmas food boxes and donations to groups such as the River Fund and We Care Cancer Support.

Each year they host a flag day ceremony and recognize first responders and judicial citizens.

New Elks members must be at least 21 years old, U.S. citizens, believe in God, have good moral character and never have been involved in a plot to overthrow the government.

The local Elks Auxiliary isn’t part of the international BPOE structure but provides support and community outreach for the Bullhead City lodge. It celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

Elks and other long-established service clubs have strict rules about starting new chapters. That was the case for the local Elks, said Doodie Ave, the auxiliary’s first vice president.

“You don’t just start an Elks Club,” Ave said.

Frear said she believes local Elks have hosted only two major political events. One of them was a forum for the Bullhead City mayoral election between Mayor Tom Brady and former City Council member Jerry Duvall.

“We try not to get political,” Frear stressed. “We aren’t a political organization; we are a community organization.”

The lodge isn’t a place for members to increase their personal wealth. Members aren’t allowed to solicit business for themselves unless someone in the lodge asks them about it.

While the local Elks have hundreds of members, the number has gone down in recent years. Frear, Ave and Clemens said they would be thrilled to see more people join.

“Especially younger people,” Ave said. “We’re not getting any younger.”

The national Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks has been commemorating its 150th anniversary this year. The once all-white and all-male organization was ordered to allow membership to African-Americans in the 1970s; women weren’t allowed to be Elks until the mid-1990s.

Locally, it took about a decade for a woman to ascend to the highest position at Elks Lodge 2408.

Cheryll McKean was the first woman to serve as the local Elks Lodge Exalted Ruler in 2006. Marie Rankin held the position in 2010, Jeanette Henry in 2014 and Margaret Lopez in 2016.

Frear was Exalted Ruler in 2011. She explained why it probably took so long for the national organization to allow women to be integrated into the organization.

“Elks was a good getaway for men, a way to get out of the house,” she said.

Frear explained that some lodges across the country allowed members’ wives to come into local lodges by showing spousal cards. Others were so strict that wives couldn’t be in the lodge without their husbands.

For information about the local Elks or the auxiliary, call 928-758-2408.

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