See You at the Julebukking
by Jim O’Kelley
Director, Elks National Foundation
(Earlier this week, I started a series of posts on the need for Lodges to stay relevant during this time of isolation. This is the second post in the series—technically, the series became a series when I posted this. Anyway, read the first post here. To find all posts in the series, click this label on the right side of the page: #StaySafeBeRelevant.)
Humans have a fundamental need to connect. Scientists, psychologists, therapists, they’ll all tell you the same thing. Our culture may celebrate individualism, but we are wired to be around other people.
How else can you explain the existence of organizations like the Elks? It’s certainly not the dated titles or the jewels of office that go along with them. It’s not the many meetings that demand so much of our time if we want to rise through the ranks. It’s not even the desire to serve our communities.
The Elks have been around for 152 years because people need other people in our lives. Local Lodges satisfy that need.
Ben Braden had been living in Ballard, Wash., for 15 years when he joined Lodge No. 827 in January 2013. That’s when he finally started meeting his neighbors.
“My wife and I had been in our house for six years,” he says, “but we met more people from our block just by sitting in the Lodge lounge or by helping with an event.”
At Ballard Lodge these days, there are a ton of people to meet. The Lodge gained 61 members in 2011-12 and hasn’t stopped growing since. Between April 1, 2001, and March 31, 2019, the Lodge more than tripled its membership, growing from 502 to 1,828 members.
How did the Ballard Elks do it?