Some of the “Best People on Earth” live right here in Long Branch.
The Order of Elks began in 1867 as an entertainment troupe out of New York City. By the following year, the troupe grew quickly in size, and many of the members felt that the organization needed to become a benevolent and protective society and be involved more with the community. After much discussion among the members, they settled on a name (Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks) and developed a vision and mission – to provide service for those in need.
The first time that I ever heard of the Elks was through some relatives of mine back in the 1960’s. My mother’s uncle, Tony Scheri, joined the Eatontown Lodge many years ago, attaining past exalted ruler status. His brother (my grandfather, Ro Scheri) was a member there for many years as well.
The Long Branch Elks Lodge #742 was founded in 1901. The lodge building, located at 150 Garfield Avenue, was originally a USO hall, serving armed forces members coming back from war or local soldiers whose families lived in and around Long Branch.
There’s something going on all the time at the lodge. The Elks hold spaghetti dinners every month and run bus trips to professional sporting events a few times a year. An annual charity ball is held at the lodge sometime in April, where the Elks hand out awards for Long Branch police officer of the year, Long Branch firefighter of the year, Long Branch first aid member of the year, and the Elk of the year. Also, the Elks will hold an annual pool party for families and kids.
Recently, the Elks went hi-tech to help promote their local fundraising events. By using a social media site like Facebook, they’ve been able to get the word out for all their fundraisers-- not just through word-of-mouth by their own members, but outside the lodge to Long Branch residents and the surrounding communities. In doing so, they’ve increased the number of attendees to their events, which helps to raise more money for those organizations and charities in need of assistance.
The Elks also promote their fundraisers and charitable events on LBCTV20, Long Branch's community access TV station.
The success of recent community service events held by the Elks is directly attributable to the members’ involvement and hi-tech promotion. For example -- back on March 3, the Long Branch Elks raised $1,600 in support of the West End Fire Relief Fund. Other fundraisers throughout the year help support other groups, such as kids with special needs, and scholarships for local high school seniors who have intentions of going on to college after graduation.
Online information can be found by clicking on Long Branch Elks #742
Here’s a little known fact about the Elks – there are approximately 2,300 lodges located throughout the United States, with each lodge receiving a number designating their chapter (Long Branch’s is 742). If a lodge closes for any reason, the chapter number is recorded by the national organization and NEVER assigned to another lodge.
(You can also follow Kevin Cieri’s blog on his Facebook page, “Jersey Shore Retro” as well as on Twitter at @jsretro).