San Francisco Elks Lodge Celebrates 130 Years of Dedication to Community

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Bay Area charity organization established in 1876 celebrates 130 years on Saturday, August 12th, 2006 at the Union Square Lodge.

The San Francisco Elks Lodge is celebrating its 130-year anniversary on Saturday, August 12 at its Union Square Lodge. The Bay Area charity is the third and oldest continuous Elks lodge in the United States.

Established in 1876, the Lodge was founded on the principles of instituting and supporting programs that benefit the Bay Area’s youth, veterans, disadvantaged and handicapped, as well as many patriotic and civic programs.

From the early days the Elks have been there for the city. The Elks Lodge located at 417 Bush Street was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake but the Elks were swift to help the city by providing refugee camps. Within ten hours of that disaster, the Elks had equipped a tented city, hospitals, and were taking care of approximately 2,000 people in these facilities. The caretaking continues: Elks nationally have answered the distress call and been on the scene of every national disaster from the Chicago Fire of 1871 to Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

With a membership as diverse and unique as the community, the San Francisco Lodge reflects the cosmopolitan flavor of the city. Female membership, which was not permitted by any Elks Lodge until 1995, was quickly embraced by the San Francisco Lodge. In 2004 the San Francisco Lodge went on to elect their first female President.

In addition to their dedication to the community, the Elks Lodge is a great social gathering place for the membership. “People often talk about discrimination, and this is an important issue,” says current San Francisco Elks Lodge No. 3 President James Mario Reyes. “We do not have those attitudes among our membership. We have all different nationalities and we welcome everyone. I enjoy sharing my Mexican American heritage with the Lodge and am very proud to be a member and have been elected to office.”

“The Elks have changed my life,” says past President Bob Merjano who met his fiancé, a fellow Elk, at the San Francisco Lodge. “I am going to marry the girl of my dreams and if it were not for the Lodge, I might not have met her.”

Aside from being one of the hippest places on Union Square to meet your “soul mate”, the Lodge has been there for the City for 130 years through good times and bad, and looks forward to many more decades of service and dedication to San Francisco. For more information on the San Francisco Elks Lodge No. 3 or becoming a member , please visit http://www.sfelks.org

About the Elks

The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks (BPOE), comprised of nearly 1.2 million men and women in almost 2,200 communities, is a national philanthropic organization. In order to become a member a candidate must be sponsored by a current member and be at least 21 years of age. Candidates are approved by committee and their membership is granted upon a two-thirds majority vote by present and voting members.

The San Francisco Lodge is the longest continuously running Lodge in Elkdom and forms part of the Bay District 0640 and belongs to the California-Hawaii Elks Association. The California-Hawaii Elks Association is comprised of over 180 Lodges throughout the state of California and Hawaii and is governed by officers and trustees who are elected from within the Association. It is through these groups the San Francisco Lodge participates in charitable causes such as Therapy Services for Children. http://www.sfelks.org/

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Kristine Kimm
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