In 2019, Mid-Westchester Elks Lodge #535 received an unexpected gift from a local resident – a beautifully crocheted 59-inch by 43-inch American flag.
When Elk member and Armonk resident Arthur Adelman saw the job, he immediately thought of the Hergenhan Leisure Center as a perfect destination.
“I knew right away that the seniors at the Hergenhan Center would really admire and adore him,” Adelman told Inside Press. “And I actually brought it over there and showed it to them and they were all amazed and loved it.”
The Elks had originally planned to hang the crocheted artwork – the origin of which is unclear – in the center but decided otherwise after realizing it was not in the best condition . The episode, however, revealed that there is no American flag in the building, which is used for a wide range of meetings, rallies and community events.
“We all thought it was a great idea,” Adelman said. “We just needed a better condition flag.”
As of January, a 4ft 7in by 4ft 6in American flag now hangs in the center thanks to a donation from the Elks Lodge. The flag is displayed in a plexiglass frame with a plaque reading “Donated by Mid-Westchester Elks Lodge #535 Armonk, NY.” A commemoration ceremony was originally scheduled for January 20 but was delayed due to snow.
While the flag itself wasn’t particularly expensive, the framing and plaque cost over $1,000, according to Adelman. As a patriotic organization, which supports several veterans’ organizations and initiatives, the Elks were eager to ensure that a flag was proudly displayed in the center.
The lodge also hopes that the commemoration and prominent display of Old Glory will spark further recognition for the 154-Year-Old Elks, a charitable and patriotic organization open to all U.S. citizens, and inspire local residents to consider joining the group.
“The two goals are visibility and recruitment,” says Adelman. “Young people these days don’t join organizations as much. So our priority, and the reason we’re doing it, is to let everyone in North Castle and beyond know that the Elks exist.
Mid-Westchester Lodge was originally made up of three separate lodges – one at Mt. Kisco, one at Port Chester, and one at White Plains – with each lodge having its own building. But in March 2009, with membership dwindling, the three lodges merged to form a central lodge. The Elks now meet on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month at the American Legion in Armonk.
“Most Elk lodges have their own buildings,” says Adelman. “Some of them not only have their own buildings, they have swimming pools, they have tennis courts.”
The sale of the three properties, however, left Mid-Westchester Lodge with a significant war chest. This has enabled the organization to fund a range of activities and initiatives.
“The motto is ‘Mooses care, Moose share.’ And luckily because the three lodges that made up our lodge all had buildings and sold them, we have a very nice treasury and we can afford to be generous.
The Elks have supported dozens of local charities, fundraisers, and community events, including grants to The Mount Kisco Interfaith Food Pantry, Cerebral Palsy of Westchester, and North Castle Public Library. The organization also supports several youth sports teams, including youth football and little league. The Elks are particularly engaged in veteran support programs, participating in Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies at the North Castle American Legion; provide a grant to the Montrose VA Food Pantry and sponsor long cabin weekends for 8-12 disabled veterans for the Healing Waters Fly Fishing Project.
The pandemic initially forced Mid-Westchester Lodge to move most of its meetings to Zoom in 2020, but once vaccines became widely available they were able to resume in-person meetings while masked and socially distanced.
“It worked well,” Adelman says. We haven’t really had a drop in attendance.
A changing world – a world that the online metaverse has made smaller while sometimes weakening the bonds between neighbors – has challenged community organizations like the Elks. But Adelman hopes anyone willing to volunteer their time and services to help their community considers the Elks.