It was an exciting night at the Majestic Golf Club last Thursday night when a large crowd of Elks who once met at the former lodge on Joel Boulevard came together to announce that the members want to reestablish their charter and meet and hold fun events in Lehigh.
And now that they have a place at the Majestic Golf Club on Homestead Road, where's there's plenty of room for meeting, dining and dancing and all other things, they want to get not only all the former members of the Elks, but a new group of people.
Frank McCully, chairman of the group to reestablish Lehigh Acres Elks Lodge and member Terry McCleave, led the crowd into coming up with all kinds of reasons and ways to attract new members.
This was a small part of a group of former Lehigh Elks who met last week to talk about gaining enough members to apply for a return of their charter to Lehigh.
"We have a goal of at least 25 to 30 and more would be wonderful," said McCully.
The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the United States of America, otherwise known as the Elks had a chapter and their own building but due to economic hardship like other local organizations, the Elks gave up their charter in July of 2011.
Now two years later, they're as eager as beavers to reestablish the charter and provide a great location for Elks to meet and enjoy themselves. After they gave up their charter and sold their lodge on Joel Boulevard, members transferred to one of two other Elks lodges in North Fort Myers and the City of Fort Myers.
Both lodges are giving the Lehigh Elks their support in coming back to Lehigh.
Riding to Fort Myers and North Fort Myers caused many former Lehigh Elks to stop attending because they didn't want to drive the distance. Those at the meeting said both lodges were great and the people were friendly, but because they live in Lehigh, they would love to come back and that's what they are doing and have already come up with an agreement with the Majestic Golf Club where they will have offices and members of the Elks will have the use of all the facilities at the club including the golf course at a reduced fee, the pool and the gym and the bar.
"You can't beat that," said an excited Terry McCleave.
Members of the group to reestablish Lehigh Acres Elks Lodge include Larry Hendrick, Maka Makaneole, Barb Guido, Melba McCleave, Linda Antiewicz, Rob Antiewicz, and Karen McCully.
"We need new blood meaning new people," shouted John Hammer and Steve Conti agreed. Both have belong to Elks for several years.
"All we need are 30 new members," exclaimed Terry McCleave. "If we get more and I hope we do, we will have a great lodge in Lehigh."
Members sitting around the tables in the bar at Majestic Golf Club agreed they needed to get the word out and promote themselves.
It was suggested that if each Elk attending the meeting were to bring in one or two new applicants, they could meet their goal.
Barb Guido, the treasurer, said meeting at the Majestic Golf Club could not be a better place.
"We have two meetings a month and we have supper dances with great live entertainment. And like we said, you can play golf here at a very reduced fee. Now who can turn that down," she laughed.
"We want many of our former members who stopped going out of town to meet at other Elks lodges to come back and think they will," she said. 'And we want people of all ages to join us. We have entertainment for all ages, from country music to music of the 50s and 60s up the present day," she said.
"It's a win-win situation," McCleave said over and over.
He urged people to call for an application and fill it out. And to do that, you can call Barb Guido at 239-770-2497 or email her at Barbere820@yahoo.com.
"All they have to do is fill out a membership application. They don't have to come up with the special $14 application fee until later. If we have enough application forms returned, we can submit them to regain our charter," McCleave said.
Dues are now $60 a year, down from what they were and the fiscal year doesn't start until April 1 of each year. If people join, their dues are pro-rated only for the months they belong in the fiscal year.
The group said there is so much to do and enjoy by belonging, that they really hope for a lot of applicants, and especially younger people and their friends.
"It's a good place to come to for a dinner and a dance. We all get together and enjoy ourselves. We prepare our own food and we have got the best entertainment. It's really a great organization to belong," she said.
Elks are very community minded. They provide scholarships and they help organizations who give away food. They give away camp scholarships for the kids and they are very active in helping Korean War veterans, those left from World War II and now veterans who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Elks provide physical therapy for children by going to their homes several times. They participate in Toys For Tots at the Salvation Army many other activities.
Their next event is planned for August 3 at the Majestic Golf Club. There will be dinner and dancing with entertainment by The Chadburns. The menu will be roast pork, apple sauce, mashed potatoes and gravy, vegetable melody, tossed salad, rolls and for dessert apple crisp, Melba McCleave said. She is the committee secretary to Reestablish the Elks Lodge in Lehigh.
Call 239-770-2497 for the price and any other information.
Members say they would love to get their old lodge number back, which was 2602. But they won't know until an application for a charter has been made.
The Elks once numbered 747 people in Lehigh.
Steve Conti said members are usually very active and have met new friends and that is why the Elks want to get their charter and come back to Lehigh.
The Exalted Ruler was Phil Boragine before the Elks gave up their charter two years ago. Elks are not required to meet a certain amount of meetings like some other organizations.
"We're Elks because we want to help our community and help each other and enjoy ourselves by coming together at our meetings and our social affairs," committee chairman Frank McCully said.
"You want to become an Elk? Just fill out an application, no money now, and we can go forward to regain our charter. These people are great to know and want to make new friends. The Elks is the club to join," McCully said.