What the group of men say while sitting around drinking coffee at the Bitterroot Valley Elks Lodge in Hamilton first thing in the morning is for the most part unprintable. But what they accomplish in the community when not on coffee break is laudable, to say the least. The list of local community projects and programs and other organizations that they support is astounding and runs the gamut from supporting local baseball and soccer teams, to awarding college scholarships, to building raised bed community gardens, to distributing drug abuse awareness brochures, to visiting veteran medical centers, and more. The Elks furnish food, comfort care items, and therapeutic items and gifts to those in need.
Lately though, Elks Lodge #1651 has had to pay attention to some of its own needs for a change, when the building they occupy at 203 State Street started falling down around them. Well, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but the roof did buckle in a storm last March and some ceiling tiles came crashing down. That’s when they discovered all the rotten rafters in the roof.
The building was suddenly unusable and was closed down.
It did not open again until last Wednesday when the first official function since the catastrophe was held in the new digs. While closed, it underwent a remarkable transformation. It was more than a repair job; it was a real do-over.
According to Dick Smith, the Elks were originally a group of actors called the Jolly Corks that about a century and half ago formed the first Elks Lodge in New York City. Now, he said, total membership has grown to over 2 million members with 2,000 lodges in the U.S. The Hamilton Elks Lodge is the 1,651st.
“Our mission is to help people,” said Smith, “especially youth, veterans and the elderly.”
Lodge members will be hosting an Open House on Friday, October 25 from 3 to 7 p.m. The lounge bar will be open and there will be a raffle basket. The winning ticket for the beautiful custom made Mikesell’s pendant will also be drawn during the open house. Call 363-3031 or 550-4801 for more information.