Rebirth of the Elks
Dolan Olson is on a mission to reopen the Elks Lodge in Fort Dodge
The mission of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks is something Dolan Olson believes is worth fighting for.
That’s why he worked to revive the Elks Lodge in Boone after it had been closed for over a decade. And now he’s hoping to do the same in Fort Dodge, where the lodge has been closed even longer.
The Elks is a charitable foundation with over 2,000 lodges throughout the U.S. As a whole, the Elks give millions of dollars in scholarships every year. The organization is also responsible for hosting events that benefit military veterans and donate to various causes in their communities.
“There’s just endless things we can do,” said Olson, of Boone. “We work very closely with the veterans. One of our main goals is fire safety, we have drug awareness programs for the schools. We have Adopt A Veteran (a program where members provide friendship and assistance to veterans). We have all kinds of veteran programs we have that appeal to a lot of people. We have free meals for veterans. Boone is one of the few lodges in the state that we offer the first full year of membership free for veterans.”
Olson, a native of Perry, began the process of reinstating the Elks Lodge in Boone in 2015.
“I got to thinking there’s no reason we can’t get the Elks Lodge back in Boone,” Olson said. “I got ahold of some people and lo and behold, we are starting an Elks Lodge in Boone.”
To date, the lodge in Boone is the only one in Iowa that has been reinstated.
The process took a little longer than Olson first thought.
“We (Boone) were recognized by the state a year ago and recognized by the Grand Lodge about four weeks ago,” Olson said. “COVID slowed that way down.”
But Olson said it shouldn’t take quite as long to get Fort Dodge up and running.
“Now that we know what we are doing we could have Fort Dodge up in less than a year,” Olson said.
He said the Boone Elks Lodge has 74 members.
“That’s starting from scratch,” Olson said. “So we are doing good.”
Olson has been a member of the Elks since 1985. He said when the Boone Elks Lodge closed years ago, it had 150 members.
When the lodge in Fort Dodge closed, it had 275 members.
“The reason I was thinking of Fort Dodge — Fort Dodge used to have a huge Elks Lodge,” Olson said.
Olson said he likes the Elks because of the impact the organization can have on communities.
“It’s just all the good work we do in the community,” he said. “The scholarships we give out. That and it’s family environment that everyone can go to.”
He said if the lodge meets its goal of having each member donate a certain amount of money each year, the lodge receives a grant to spend in the community however it wishes.
Olson said oftentimes the group in Boone has chosen to purchase new equipment for the police and fire departments.
There are a few requirements to be a member of the Elks.
“You have to believe in God to be a member,” he said. “It’s based on the four foundations of purity, justice, love and fidelity.”
The Boone Elks Lodge meets the second and fourth Thursday of every month. Fridays the group has a meal from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
If anyone is interested in helping Olson start an Elks Lodge in Fort Dodge, contact him at email@example.com or 515-729-7296.
“We have 31 lodges in Iowa,” Olson said. “Would like to make it 32 up there.”
About the Elks
Who they are
• A fraternal order with hundreds of thousands of members and a 150-plus year history.
• A network of nearly 2,000 lodges in communities all over the country.
• The Elks organization was founded in New York City on Feb. 16, 1868, under the name “Jolly Corks” by 15 actors, entertainers and others associated with the theater. In ensuing years, membership expanded to other professions.
• This Fraternal Order was founded “To promote and practice the four cardinal virtues of charity, justice, brotherly love and fidelity; to promote the welfare and enhance the happiness of its members; to quicken the spirit of American patriotism and cultivate good fellowship.”
• The Order is a non-political, non-sectarian and strictly American fraternity. Proposal for membership in the Order is only by invitation of a member in good standing. To be accepted as a member, one must be an American citizen, believe in God, be of good moral character and be at least 21 years old.
What we do
• The Order spends more than $80,000,000 every year for benevolent, educational and patriotic community-minded programs in such fields as benefitting special needs children, sponsoring Elks National Foundation scholarships, scouting, athletic teams, veterans’ works, a national “Hoop Shoot” free-throw contest involving more than 3 million children, physical and occupational therapy programs and patriotic programs.
• The youth of our country have always been important to the Order. It is for this reason the Elks Drug Awareness Education Program was launched to warn primary grade students and their parents of the dangers in drug use. Additionally, every lodge observes June 14 as Flag Day, a tradition which the Elks began in 1907 and was later adopted by the Congress as an official observance.
Source: The Elks official website, www.elks.org