by Jerry Serota
On Thursday, April 28th, the T.O. Elks lodge celebrated its first complete year of service to the (California Veterans) Cal Vet Home – Ventura. Normally, the fourth Thursday every month is karaoke night (with snacks) at the home. Four to seven volunteers have been showing up every month for a year, driving 50 miles round-trip. This month, the crew also prepared a beef & chicken kabob dinner for the 46 residents, plus the staff and friends of the home.
At the request of the administration, PER Bill Sternberg, also district scout leader, built 3 extra-large bulletin boards and an entertainment center for electronic devices. In April, a portable dance floor was delivered to the home, courtesy of the lodge.
At the one-year celebration, a permanent plaque was mounted over one of the bulletin boards showing the Elks motto towards veterans, “So long as there are veterans, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks will not forget them.” Also, in another room where banners are displayed, the T.O. Elks banner will also be on display. The plaque and banner were designed by current Lecturing Knight (and computer magician) Paul Wagner, also the Public Relations contact for the lodge.
Carl Lanterman, Chairman-Veterans National Services continually points to the support of other volunteers and the monetary support of the lodge for the success of the Thousand Oaks veterans program. Long-time esquire and current inner guard Robert Jones provides his first-class karaoke equipment, current Loyal Knight (and singing teacher and web-site administrator) Kira Wagner was the first terrific singer to volunteer, followed by new member (and caterer), JB Bre (and what a duet the two of them make), and PER Terry Gicking is always there for support. Elk member and former marine Gerald Feldman frequently brings gifts with him to the home. Without the dedication shown by these Elk members, there would be no program for the Cal Vet Home residents.
This kind of dedication to our veterans, along with the long-standing monthly visit to the Sepulveda V.A. Hospital for bingo and snacks, and participation in the annual Ventura County Stand-down, playing cards and other gifts for the veterans represent the epitome of Elkdom service to our veterans.