The St. Helens Elks Lodge has announced $14,500 in local grants.

The St Helens Elks Lodge #1999 approved Elks National Foundation grants to be written for donations in support of non-profit organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Elks Lodge Grant Coordinator Randy Culver wrote and submitted two grant proposals, one for $2,000 and one for $3,500 that were approved by the Elks National Foundation for a total of $5,500.

St Helens Senior Center Donation

St. Helens Senior Center

The first grant for $2,000 was presented to Executive Director Kathy Innocenti at The St Helens Senior Center on July 22. As soon as the second check for $3,500 arrives, it will also be delivered to the executive director. The St Helens Senior Center usually provides free lunches to roughly 163 Senior citizens living in the community, this includes approximately 25 Veterans.

Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the center has been forced to postpone their lunch services and other activities until guidance changes on social gatherings. However, the St Helens Senior Center's kitchen has been busier than usual as they are cooking and preparing meals for delivery to seniors and veterans in their homes.

With fundraising activities and events that help support the center being canceled or postponed indefinitely, it is imperative that this essential service be funded so Seniors and Veterans in need can continue to have nutritious meals delivered to their homes.

The total donation amount of $5,500 will go towards the cost of purchasing food items for the St Helens Senior Center to help provide meals to seniors and veterans that either cannot leave their homes due to COVID-19 guidance or are homebound.

Elks Veterans Bunker Donation

Elks Veteran Bunker Donation

St Helens Elks Lodge Grant Coordinator Randy Culver wrote and submitted two other grant proposals, one for $2,000 and one for $2,500 that were approved by the Elks National Foundation for a total of $4,500. The first grant for $2,500 was written to assist in everyday operating expenses incurred by the Elks Veterans Bunker.

The St Helens Elks Lodge #1999 established a unique facility that is it's own separate 501-C non-profit and solely dedicated to the support and assistance of our local Veteran Community, named the Elks Veterans Bunker.

On 22 July, the grant funds were presented to Executive Director Alta Lynch. Alta has established essential Covid-19 safety procedures that have been implemented to ensure a safe and secure environment for Veterans to obtain assistance by appointment only that is provided by the available various programs. This facility provides the following:

  • Veterans Advocate Training

To assist our Veterans and their families with the V.A process and assisting them with the preparation of paperwork and records to apply for needed benefits. 2. Veteran’s Court Mentor Training: The Veteran’s Court Mentor Coordinator will be working out of the bunker to train additional Veteran’s Court Mentors for the Columbia County Veteran’s Treatment Court.

  • Counseling Services

Veterans Administration counselors have been notified about the availability of space at the bunker for individual/group counseling sessions. Columbia County Mental Health has been in contact with the bunker in regard to setting up counseling sessions at the bunker. A licensed counselor with a master’s degree is available by appointment.

  • Job Search

Computers will be available as well as the volunteers to help vets or their families find a job and or write a resume. WorkSource Oregon has arranged to be available for veterans at the bunker to assist with job search. 5. Comradery: The comforting environment of this bunker is meant to help those Veterans who need a place to come and talk, a place to share their experiences with people who understand all they have done and been through. Sometimes simply talking about their time away is all that a Veteran may need in order to move forward and have a successful life. We hope to provide this sanctuary for them.

This facility has been developed, organized and is staffed by members of the St Helens Elks Lodge and it's dedicated, community volunteers. Currently, there is a pool of 25 Elks volunteers and 30 community volunteers that rotate as staff, plus assist with various fundraising events throughout the year. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, potential fundraising events are going to be extremely limited this year.

Farming for Freedom Donation

Farming For Freedom Donation

St Helens Elks Lodge Grant Coordinator Randy Culver wrote and submitted two other grant proposals, one for $2,000 and one for $2,500 that were approved by the Elks National Foundation for a total of $4,500. The first grant for $2,500 was written to assist in everyday operating expenses incurred by the Elks Veterans Bunker.

The St Helens Elks Lodge #1999 established a unique facility that is it's own separate 501-C non-profit and solely dedicated to the support and assistance of our local Veteran Community, named the Elks Veterans Bunker.

On 22 July, the grant funds were presented to Executive Director Alta Lynch. Alta has established essential Covid-19 safety procedures that have been implemented to ensure a safe and secure environment for Veterans to obtain assistance by appointment only that is provided by the available various programs. This facility provides the following:

  • Veterans Advocate Training

To assist our Veterans and their families with the V.A process and assisting them with the preparation of paperwork and records to apply for needed benefits. 2. Veteran’s Court Mentor Training: The Veteran’s Court Mentor Coordinator will be working out of the bunker to train additional Veteran’s Court Mentors for the Columbia County Veteran’s Treatment Court.

  • Counseling Services

Veterans Administration counselors have been notified about the availability of space at the bunker for individual/group counseling sessions. Columbia County Mental Health has been in contact with the bunker in regard to setting up counseling sessions at the bunker. A licensed counselor with a master’s degree is available by appointment.

  • Job Search

Computers will be available as well as the volunteers to help vets or their families find a job and or write a resume. WorkSource Oregon has arranged to be available for veterans at the bunker to assist with job search.

  • Comradery

The comforting environment of this bunker is meant to help those Veterans who need a place to come and talk, a place to share their experiences with people who understand all they have done and been through. Sometimes simply talking about their time away is all that a Veteran may need in order to move forward and have a successful life. We hope to provide this sanctuary for them.

This facility has been developed, organized and is staffed by members of the St Helens Elks Lodge and it's dedicated, community volunteers. Currently, there is a pool of 25 Elks volunteers and 30 community volunteers that rotate as staff, plus assist with various fundraising events throughout the year. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, potential fundraising events are going to be extremely limited this year.

The second grant for $2,000 was written to assist with purchasing farm equipment for a project that falls under the umbrella of the Elks Veterans Bunker which is a Veteran-led project: Farming for Freedom.

This project hopes to provide outreach, education, and community to veterans of our rural county through the unique platform of small-scale sustainable agriculture. From all produce grown, 20% will be donated to local area food banks and the St Helens Senior Center to support meals for those in need during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Farming for Freedom offers veterans of all eras the opportunity to learn a variety of new skills, build strong community and interpersonal relationships, bring awareness to Veteran’s issues, and build a sense of belonging, accomplishment, and camaraderie that comes with working the dirt with your hands.

Goals

Introduce sustainable agriculture to Veterans in an environment of their peers.

Provide new direction to those that possess a solid foundation of attention to detail, leadership, dedication, motivation, and determination.

Supply local Veterans and their families with locally produced sustainable produce.

Support Veteran’s advocacy

Provide donations to local food banks and the St Helens Senior Center in support of the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond.

A future goal is to provide a sustainable revenue-generating project for the programs offered by the Elks Veterans Bunker and donate vegetables to the St Helens Senior Center and local food banks during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

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