In honor of the Montana State Elks Convention, members of the fraternal organization gathered at the Great Falls Elks Lodge on Friday morning.
Montana State Elks Association 2019-2020 president Les Thario explained that he was uncertain whether the convention would take place given the coronavirus pandemic.
“We plan these things a year or more in advance and we knew what was gonna affect it. We are very low on numbers. We’re about half of what we usually are during these summer conventions,” Thario said.
The lower attendance and large space of the Elks Lodge allow the members to hold their convention safely. Thario said meeting in person was more conducive to the group’s agenda.
“You can do a lot of things on Zoom...but getting together and exchanging ideas in person is always a positive thing for us. We’re a social group and it’s easier when we’re together in the same room to talk about business,” Thario said.
In addition to business matters, the convention also afforded members the opportunity to meet leaders within the organization, like Montana State Elks Association Grand Exalted Ruler Paul Ryan.
Ryan joined the elks after urging from his wife, and has grown in his involvement ever since.
“Once I found out all the phenomenal works the organization does and the great things that we do for each and every community that we’re in, I realized that I wanted to help out in more ways than I possibly could,” Ryan said.
Ryan supports the Elks’ mission of helping within communities across the country.
“One of...my largest passions is helping. We’re charitable, we’re here to help the communities...we’re helping communities with their kids, with their veterans, with their homeless, with whatever we can help with in the communities, that’s what we’re here to do,”