On Saturday, January 9th, 2021, representatives from the Rochester, NH Elks #1393 presented donations made possible by the Elks National Foundation Beacon / Spotlight Grant Programs. There were 2 separate donations totaling $5,500 dollars.
Rochester Elks officers Bonnie Skidds, Exalted Ruler; Norm Gervais, PER, Lodge Secretary/ENF Chair and Don Chesnel, PER, Inner Guard traveled to the NH Veterans Home in Tilton, NH for the first presentation. The NHVH was established in 1890 and has a capacity of 250 residents. It has recently been hit hard with COVID cases. A check in the amount of $2,500 was presented by the Rochester contingent to Margaret D. Labrecque, Commandant of the Veterans Home.
During the pandemic, residents have been confined to their rooms to control the spread of COVID. The money will be used to provide new bedside tables so they can more easily eat their daily meals, which would normally be served in their dining areas. Other items to be purchased include N95 Fit Kits and N95 Hood Kits. This donation will not cover the total cost of all these purchases, but will certainly provide some financial relief for these items.
Later in the day, the Elks officers went to Gerry’s Emergency Food Pantry located in the Rochester Recreation Facility and presented Executive Director Don “Skip” Smith with a check for $3,000 dollars. Gerry’s Emergency Food Pantry is the largest local provider of free personal care items and supplemental food resources to prevent or alleviate hunger in Rochester and surrounding communities.
Since the pandemic struck in the spring, the food pantry has seen a 40% increase in food insecurity and a 65% increase in their requests for Thanksgiving Food Baskets. In addition to items normally requested such as Spaghetti Sauce, Dry Cereal, Mac & Cheese, Jello, Pudding, Canned Goods, and Diapers, the food pantry is finding that residents are financially challenged to purchase perishable foods such as dairy products. So, the food pantry is purchasing items such as Milk, Butter, and Eggs and including these items along with non-perishable items. This has become an additional financial and operational burden for the food pantry.
The mission of the Elks National Foundation is to help Elks build stronger communities. We fulfill this pledge by investing in communities where Elks live and work. We help youth develop lifelong skills, send students to college, meet the needs of today’s veterans, support the charitable work of the state Elks associations, and fund charitable projects that improve the quality of life in local Elks communities. Since its inception, the ENF has contributed more than $500 million toward Elks charitable projects nationwide. Our programs continue to grow each year, allowing Elks to do even more to build stronger communities. To learn more about the Elks, visit www.elks.org
NH Vets Home, l to r – Norman Gervais, Rochester Lodge Secretary, PER and ENF Chair; Margaret Labrecque, Commandant, NH Vets Home, and Bonnie Skidds, Exalted Ruler. Not pictured, Don Chesnel, PER, Inner Guard.
Gerry’s Emergency Food Pantry, l to r – Norman Gervais, Rochester Lodge Secretary, PER and ENF Chair; Don “Skip” Smith, Executive Director, Gerry’s Emergency Food Pantry and Exalted Ruler Bonnie Skidds. Not pictured, Don Chesnel, PER, Inner Guard.