As the new Exalted Ruler of Valparaiso’s Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks Lodge #500, Scott Holmen has his work cut out for him. Thankfully, he loves Valpo, golf, and helping people, so he seems to be a good man for the job.
Since April 1, the start of the fiscal year for the Elks, Holmen has been overseeing all aspects of Lodge #500. Holmen’s duties include leading biweekly meetings with the Lodge Board and Lodge members, overseeing the budget process as well as the recruitment and retainment of members, organizing the Lodge’s fundraising events, and maintaining transparency and an open line of communication with all Elks #500 members.
As Exalted Ruler, Holmen also represents Lodge #500 at district, state, and national meetings, and helps obtain grants from the Elks National Foundation to help local community causes. Once grants have been obtained, Holmen rounds up volunteers to help facilitate them.
“Basically, the ER is the CEO of the Lodge,” Holmen said.
This year is an especially symbolic one to be appointed to such a role.
“It’s an exciting time right now for us at the Lodge, because we are celebrating our 150th birthday this year as an organization!” Holmen said.
The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks has been serving communities since 1868, and the charitable members of this organization deserve some applause for all their hard work. For example, the Elks Drug Awareness Program is partnering with the Porter County Substance Abuse Council on Saturday, May 19 to hold a Parent Information Event at the Elks Lodge. This marks just one example of the organization positively working with the community.
The Elks are all business; most of their events make fundraising fun and participatory. In fact, the four main events Elks 500 Lodge members are gearing up for this year are their Golf Outing, Cigar Social, Wild Game Feast, and Valparaiso’s Popcorn Festival. While the events are designed as fundraisers for the Lodge, part of the proceeds go to charitable giving and scholarship funds.
Holmen said that Elks Lodge #500 just received $3,500 to go toward helping veterans in local assisted living homes. Wanting to do something extra special for the veterans, the Elks #500 members are planning a “Christmas in July” celebration.
“We’ll have local school children decorate bags with drawings, and then fill them with personal items that aren’t covered under Medicare, like tee shirts, underwear, socks, or even candy,” Holmen said. “Elks 500 Lodge will be able help out 70 local veterans with $50 each in items they need and want.”
The Elks Lodge #500 never has the children in the community far from mind, either.
“We also focus on kids with our annual Hoop Shoot at the Boys and Girls Club,” Holmen said. “And we have educational scholarships. Last year, we awarded four students from our community $500 each.”
Holmen said members especially look forward to Lodge #500’s Children’s Christmas Party.
“Our annual Children’s Christmas Party really benefits our members with small children and grandchildren,” Holmen said. “It’s one of my favorite events. We actually are fortunate to get not only Santa but also Mrs. Claus to attend!”
Lodge #500 is rooted to a good spot, in Holmen’s mind. A resident of Valparaiso, he’s very dedicated to the growing community.
“I love what has happened to the downtown area [of Valparaiso,]” Holmen said. “There’s a great variety of restaurants and community activities, and the education system here is fantastic and is so vital to having a robust community.”
Holmen appreciates the city’s proximity to Chicago, where his daughter Emily lives.
“I enjoy the taxes here compared to Illinois,” Holmen joked.
Holmen also enjoys golfing, grilling out, and spending time with Sophie, his favorite (only) granddaughter.
Holmen has a longstanding breakfast date every Saturday morning with, as he put it, “15-20 old dudes.”
“We get breakfast at Suzie’s Cafe and solve all the world’s problems,” Holmen said.
If you catch him there, Holmen will tell you himself: “It’s great to be an Elk!”