Nearly 20 people, all of who made outstanding contributions to the Tri-City Elks during the recent fraternal calendar year, were honored last Wednesday evening during Lodge No. 14’s annual awards night.
But the night was much more; it was also a celebration of just how much progress Lodge No. 14 has come since a trouble-filled merger back on Jan. 16, 2006.
The merger came about because Providence-Cranston sold its building in 2003 and the Pawtucket Lodge was faced with making $225,000 in fire code upgrades and wound up selling its facility.
As often happens with such mergers, there were many differences of opinions and the transition. Steve Lagesse said the transition “was far from smooth.”
“It was a difficult time,” said Lagesse, who was Tri-City’s first-ever Exalted Ruler. “I used to say: What did I get myself of into?”
But Lagesse, who lives in Pawtucket and is a former member of that city’s Elks Lodge, persevered and worked and kept on working using the premise “service above self.”
The result surfaced last Wednesday evening largely in part to the untiring efforts of a Donna Warner, who for the past two years has served as Tri-City’s Exalter Ruler and taken Lodge 14 from “the red into the black, financially.”
“In my 17 years of Elkdom, I’ve only supported two people for Exalter Ruler,” Lagesse said. “Donna Warner is one of those people. She did an extraordinary job in bringing this lodge together – and getting it back on its financial feet. Donna, I applaud you.”
Although the downstairs lounge-dining room was filled with applause, Warner admitted she was humbled but quickly chose to toast “the Elks we’re honoring tonight for their meritorious service to this lodge.”
“Nowadays,” Warner said, “it’s Team Tri-City; we’re all excited and our new Exalted Ruler Mark Eaton has already put his stamp on our lodge. Mark already has things moving onward and upward.”
And as Warner so aptly noted before presenting individual awards and offering stories bout each and every recipient, Lodge 14 continues to put on a new face. The front and sides of the cinderblock building have a new coat of paint, as does the first floor lounge and Lodge hall.
“There have been many, many improvements here,” Warner said. “And one person, in particular, who is responsible for those things is our Elk of the Year, Albert Delory.”
Delory, though, was unable to attend the dinner because he and his wife Carol Delory – who was one of 15 Lodge members honored as “Outstanding Elks” – was on vacation with friends.
“Cookie,” Warner said, describing Delory, “is our all-around fix-it guy; he’s 90 percent responsible for what’s happened here ... cameras, painting, chairs ... There isn’t one thing he doesn’t or won’t do for our lodge.”
Delory was one of three Lodge 14 members who received major awards.
Anne Marie Greaves, Lodge 14’s Chaplin, received the prestigious Officer of the Year Award.
“There are many stories about each of our award recipients,” Warner said. “Perhaps Anne Marie exemplifies what we all try to do.”
Greaves has become known at the VA Medical Center in Providence as a woman who turned a man’s life around. And every Tuesday she takes her dog Rosie – a beagle mix – to see Jack Russell and perform what she calls “pet assisted therapy.”
“Mr. Russell didn’t want to do anything,” Greaves told the audience. “Now, he actually gets excited about our visit. Rosie and I spent time with him; and if for some reason we can’t go one week, the man is not himself.”
Wayne Sutton, a noted Rhode Island Shriner who has done Lodge 14’s Bulletin for two years, was honored as the “Citizen of the Year.”
“He does lots of work behind the scenes for us,” Warner said of Sutton. “He’s very involved with the Shriners fundraising, their hospital and burn center.”
Warner then presented 18 “Outstanding Elks” awards to Lodge No. 14 members and personalized each honor with at least two special stories about each “valuable member.”
And the white, hard-cover proclamations that featured the official seal of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, were made possible by Lodge 14 member State Sen. William Walaska, a man who Warner classified as “a tremendous unsung hero and great ambassador for Lodge No. 14.”
The list of “Outstanding Elks” included: Paul Alexander, Shawn Burch, Jane Caron, Anthony Ciccione, Carol Delory, Richard Delory, Peter Dodge, Lori Eaton, Mark Eaton, Charles Greaves, Steve Largesse, Nick Rossi, James Suttles, Sen. William Walaska and Dick Warner.
It was Donna Warner’s final act of a hectic yet fun-filled two-year reign as Lodge No. 14’s Exalted Ruler.
“She came into office humble and thanking people for her election,” said Lagesse. “And she is going out the same way –thanking and praising people – instead of taking bows. And that, my fellow Elks, is exactly why I applaud Donna Warner; she has done an excellent job during these past two years.”