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Elks and Royal Purple get ready to celebrate 60 years of community service

Posted on October 28, 2014 by Shaunavon Standard

The Shaunavon Elks and Royal Purple will commemorate 60 years of community service with a special event on Saturday, Nov. 1.

The evening celebration will include a banquet, entertainment and presentations.

Among the guest speakers will be the national and provincial leaders of both organizations, including Duane Felt (Grand Exalted Ruler), Regina MacLean (Supreme Honoured Royal Lady), Maurice Koszman (Saskatchewan Elks president) and Audrey Griffith (Saskatchewan Royal Purple president).

The event has been organized to acknowledge the organizations’ important contribution to the community over the past six decades, as well as to celebrate the special bonds and friendships that have been forged among its members.

“We’ve worked very well with our brother Elks for the past 60 years and we hope it will continue,” said Liz Sport, a 35 year member of the Royal Purple.

Sport is the current Honoured Royal Lady of the Shaunavon group, a position she held a half dozen times in the past. She has also held the title of provincial president and Supreme Honoured Royal Lady (the national president) during her tenure with the organization.

“I just think the Royal Purple does a lot of good work in their communities,” said Sport. “We maybe can’t do as many things as we’ve done in the past because our membership has declined over the years. But we still do a lot of community service work.”

Their long list of local contributions range from high school scholarships to skating rink funding. Recently, the group donated $1,100 to the Shaunavon Hospital lab fundraiser in the memory of longtime member Doremis Krause, who passed away earlier this year.

“Through the years we’ve helped with numerous projects in the area,” said Sport.

The Shaunavon Elks, meanwhile, have been equally good community citizens.

The Elks Lodge continues to be a visible and active group in the community and has a membership of approximately 50 people. Like a lot of small-town, rural service clubs, it has seen its membership numbers fluctuate over the years, although it continues to make a huge contribution to the community.

“We’ve actually had a bit of a rebirth in recent years,” said Andy Cox, who is nearing 30 years of service with the local organization. “We’ve had some younger guys join our group, which is important to help our club keep going in the future.”

The Elks have also sponsored and supported numerous local programs over the years.

Both organizations have been active in the community, supporting and initiating a wide variety of projects and programs, from drug awareness campaigns to the Apple Drive over the years. Covering the ongoing cost of providing cable television service to patient rooms at the Shaunavon Hospital is just one example of the Elks contributions.

“It’s a great place for fellowship and meeting up with people who are interested in helping their communities,” said Cox, who has served as the local Exalted Ruler and continues to be an active executive member. He is also a past president of the provincial Elks.

Both Cox and Sport say their respective organizations are always looking for new members and people interested in joining the service clubs are more than welcome to sign up.

“We’re always on the lookout for new members,” said Cox.

The history of the Elk’s Lodge in Shaunavon actually pre-dates 1954. However, the first group – Lodge #88 – turned in its charter in the 1930s during a difficult period.

The present day Elk’s Lodge was chartered in November of 1954 with over 100 members joining the organization. The group held its first meetings at the Legion Hall and Masonic Temple (now the Darkhorse Theatre Clubhouse) before purchasing their own facility in 1958, the Old Telephone building (now home to the Stuff by B store).

The building was used until 1966, when the Elks decided to build a new hall to accommodate the ever-growing membership.

The group began construction on the facility in 1967, when the shell of the building was completed. Progress, however, was slow, as the project was completed in stages as funds became available.

Much of the work was done by volunteers, including the installation of a hardwood floor as well as most of the inside finishing.

By January of 1969, the building was completed and the Elks held a special opening ceremony to mark the occasion.

The building was filled to capacity for the event, with several hundred people in attendance, including national Elks and Royal Purple dignitaries.

The new home measured 40’ by 80’, with a full basement capable of accommodating 400 people.

The new building carried an estimated value of about $80,000 and local Royal Purple and Elks members worked tirelessly to pay off the mortgage.

By 1990, members had decided that even more room was needed for the Hall and a 24’ by 80’ addition was constructed that year on the east side of the building.

The Royal Purple was also established in Shaunavon in 1954 and boasts a history that is just as important as their male counterparts.

Thirty-eight charter members, most of them wives of Elks, formed the original group. Peggy Aldag-Older is the only charter member still living and organizers are hoping Peggy will be available to attend next week’s celebration.

The organization continues to carry out work for dozens of charities and programs.

A history of the group, formulated in 1990, showed that the Royal Purple had contributed to 36 different local charities, many of them on a continuing basis, from organizations such as minor sports and the music festival to contributing funds for hospital equipment and local schools.

The group has also made contributions to other agencies such as the Canadian Cancer Society, Muscular Dystrophy and its signature cause, the Elks and Royal Purple Fund for Children.

“We’re trying to remain as active as we can,” said Cox of the Royal Purple and Elks commitment to the community. “We get involved in different things and help out wherever we can.”

The celebration on Saturday, Nov. 1 will begin at 5:30 p.m. with a happy hour at the Elks Hall. Supper will be served at 6:30 with entertainment to follow.

Tickets, which are priced at $25 each, are available from Andy Cox (306-297-8486), Kyle Stevenson (306-294-7780), Conniesue McAtamney (306-297-8895) and Herb Conrad (306-297-3344).

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