PORTLAND -- On Sunday, November 9, 2008 the Grand Exalted Ruler of the Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks, Paul D. Helsel and his wife Jane arrived at the Portland International Airport for their official four day visit to the State of Maine. Greeting them at the airport was Past Grand Exalted Ruler Amos McCallum of Saco, Maine Elks State President Robert Drisko of Chelsea, and several other Grand Lodge and State dignitaries. The Helsel's are from Newark, Delaware, and are traveling across the country to meet with local officials and to promote the charitable works of the Order.
During their visit to Maine, the Helsel's had the opportunity to learn firsthand about the history and the beauty of the State of Maine. Their travels included visits to Backyard Farms Tomato Facility in Madison, the Maine Criminal Justice Acadamy, the Maine Medical Examiner's Office, Togus VA Medical Center, and the Maine Children's Cancer Program. They also visited the Skowhegan-Madison Elks Lodge, where Helsel presented two members with special awards. Receiving a Grand Exalted Ruler membership award was Edward Goff of Skowhegan, and a 50 year pin membership pin was presented to Past Exalted Ruler Roger Leblond of Madison. This was the first time that the Grand Exalted Ruler was able to present his special awards personally.
On Tuesday, November 11, 2008, the Grand Exalted Ruler (GER) and First Lady traveled to the Togus VA Medical Center in Augusta, where they had the opportunity to learn about the many projects that the Maine Elks have made possible through the years. During their visit the met with several veterans, including U.S. Navy veteran Charlie Tuttle of Randolph. Tuttle is a member of the Rockland Elks Lodge, and was very pleased to be visited by the Order's national leader.
Later that night, a banquet was held in honor of the Grand Exalted Ruler and his wife at the Augusta Elks Lodge. During his address, Helsel spoke about the challenges facing the Elks today, including the decline in membership. He also spoke about the Elks National Foundation, which provides support to our Youth and our Veterans. Following his address, Exalted Ruler’s of each of Maine’s twenty-two Lodges had the opportunity to present the GER and his wife with gifts of Maine made products. Helsel surprised Maine Elks Association President Robert Drisko by presenting him with the President's (Bush) Volunteer Service Award. This award recognized Drisko for serving over 4000 hours of volunteer service to his community and to the Order. GER Helsel capped off the evening by signing each member’s card, and providing them with one of his pins.
On Wednesday, the GER and his wife met with Governor John E. Baldacci, where he had the opportunity to speak with him about the Order and it's charitable work.
The Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks is a fraternal organization made up of nearly one million men and women from across the United States. The organization provides service to local communities through programs that promotes Americanism, and supports our nation's youth and its veterans. To learn more about the Elks, visit elks.org or maineelks.org.
|L-R: Maine Elks Association State President Robert Drisko, Grand Exalted Ruler Paul Helsel, Jane Helsel, Past Grand Exalted Ruler Amos McCallum. Seated is companion Sylvia Marston, and in the foreground is patient Charles Tuttle.|
|L-R: Past Grand Exalted Ruler Amos McCallum, Barbara McCallum, Grand Exalted Ruler Paul Helsel, Jane Helsel, Myra Drisko, and Maine Elks Association President Robert Drisko.|
|L-R: Jane Helsel, Grand Exalted Ruler Paul Helsel, Governor John E. Baldacci, Myra Drisko, and Maine Elks Association President Robert Drisko.|