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Cape Elks mark 40th anniversary

Four decades of service, community dedication

June 6, 2019
North Fort Myers Neighbor

You could say that Cape Coral Elks Lodge 2596 is a silent backbone of the community.

Not many people know that the Lodge raises money and provides free healthcare for special needs children of Elks members at no additional cost to the member. They're also big advocates for local homeless veterans.

But without social media knowledge, those good deeds sometimes have gone unnoticed.

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"Maybe (the work) goes unrecognized because we don't have the ability to get the publicity we need," Kampf said. "We try to do social media, but some of our members don't have email."

"We work really hard and we're all volunteers and we don't get paid. But if you get people to volunteer, it all goes back to the local community."

Exalted Ruler of the Lodge, Richard Kampf, doesn't do it for the publicity.

But he would like the public to know that this year the Lodge is celebrating 40 years of service to the community.

They're also hosting an open house and a 5k Run/Walk to raise money to benefit the Elks Children's Therapy Services and local veterans on June 8.

Elks Children's Therapy Services is a no cost medical service provided to children and families in need of medical care in the local community. This year the Lodge will also join forces with the local U.S. Veterans Administration Hospital to provide housing assistance to homeless veterans and needy families in Cape Coral.

In addition to raising money for good causes, Kampf said the open house is also a way to attract new members to the Lodge.

"If they like what they see, they are welcome to sign up," he said.

This year, the Lodge is working with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to get homeless veterans set up on the path to a new life.

Kampf says HUD has a program where they put homeless veterans in apartments and pay their rent for three years.

Then the Elks step in.

Now that the homeless veteran has a place to live, they'll need all the necessities to have a shot at turning their lives around.

Kampf said the Lodge will supply them with things like bedding, linens, plates, knives, forks, spoons, a microwave, laundry detergent and towels.

"The Elks will set them up for an easy way to start life over again," he said.

Kampf said there are currently 50 homeless veterans ready to go.

But, that's not the only thing the Cape Coral Elks Lodge does for veterans.

Kamps says each year; the Lodge provides them with up to five free hot lunches.

But now he can help the people who can't make it to the lodge for that.

And he can give them even more; a roof over their heads and the means to start again.

The noon open house, at 850 Lafayette Street, is open to the public. There will be a DJ, 50/50 raffle drawings and prizes

Abisso Remodeling is supplying the barbecue cooker and serving up delicious old-fashioned barbecue. The menu includes chicken, ribs, pulled pork, baked beans and coleslaw. Food is $6 and children younger than six eat for free.

Kampf says at least one and maybe two charter members who started Lodge 2596 will be there.

"I really think that's all we have left," he said. "Everyone else has passed on. I've been making calls to people who were part of the Lodge and involved in it 20 to 30 years ago to come in and have a good time. A lot of them said they would come."

Attendees can purchase six raffle tickets for $5.

Some prizes include reduced Sam's Club and BJ's memberships and gift cards to area restaurants.

This year marks the Lodge's second annual 5K Run/Walk.

It is set for 7:30 to 9 a.m.at Rotary Park Environmental Center on Rose Garden Road.

Last year they sought to raise money for physical therapists to treat children in the Cape Coral Elks Lodge's two designated districts. Across the entire state, there are 10.

"These kids are really in dire straits," Kampf said. "Cystic fibrosis, autism, those kinds of things."

Last year, they brought a child who was in the process of receiving treatment to the race and people got to meet him and his family, Kampf said, and they saw what this boy could do.

"Before treatment, he was near what most could consider a vegetable state," he explained. "Now, he can dress himself and brush his teeth."

"It's a big deal. Not only the child, but the family gets treatment, too. Free of charge, the Elks pay for it," Kampf said.

Last year, about 80 people participated in the race.

This year, Kampf hopes to double that.

Last year, they raised $2,000. Kampf would like to see that number double as well.

This year, they've doubled the number of sponsors from 10 to 15 to 20.

Kampf said that's primarily due to the hard work of members going around and knocking on doors.

"For us, it was an easy target," he said. "We want to do this; we want to focus on kids and the veterans, and for the most part everyone says, 'I'm in.'"

 
 

 

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