Helping veterans has always been a priority for members of the Chattanooga Elks Lodge, and now, thanks to a community impact grant from the Elks National Foundation, they're able to take it to a new level.
"Our lodge was one of 14 lodges across the country chosen for this grant," Exalted Ruler/President of the Chattanooga Elks Lodge Dawn Whitener said in a phone interview. "We're working to make it go as far as possible."
Each lodge applying for a grant had to present a project to the Elks National Foundation, and the Chattanooga lodge, at 1067 Graysville Road, chose to focus on making home repairs for veterans who don't have other funding means to do so, thus beginning project "Home Sweet Home" by the Chattanooga Elks Lodge.
"Things like building wheelchair ramps, making electrical or plumbing repairs and anything that presents a safety issue, especially for our veterans who are disabled, those are the things we want to help with and work on through this grant funding," Whitener said. "If we can't cover it through the grant, then we will work to refer them to other resources that can."
Whitener also works with the Southeast Tennessee Veterans Coalition and the American Job Center and added that through her connections there and the lodge, there are other avenues where veterans who may not qualify for the grant assistance can still get help.
Veterans across the greater Chattanooga area from Cleveland to North Georgia can apply. They must be homeowners and present with a financial need to qualify for repairs through project Home Sweet Home. Whitener said those looking for help can contact the Chattanooga Elks Lodge at 423-894-8850 between the hours of 3-6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
—Email email@example.comOR—Call 423-894-8850 between 3-6 p.m. Monday-Friday
"One of our employees will take their information and put them in touch with someone on the Home Sweet Home committee to follow through the application and screening process, and from there a committee will vote and decide on how to move forward," she said.
The voting committee will determine the greatest needs and work to make those home repairs with a goal of completing all projects by November of this year.
"We will do everything we can to help as many as possible and encourage those interested to apply immediately," Whitener said.
Neal Butler, past exalted ruler and Home Sweet Home project chairman, said veterans eligible to benefit from this grant will be prioritized based on the extent of their financial situation and any safety issues related to the home. Elks Lodge members who are professional tradespeople will donate their respective expertise, time and services to complete the home repairs.
All supplies will be provided by the Chattanooga Elks Lodge through the grant and at no cost to the veteran, according to a news release from the group.
"This grant is renewable based on our success this year," Butler said in a phone interview. "The more people we can effectively help this year will allow us to reapply in 2023 and continue doing it for several more years, we hope. We really want to help get this out to as many as we can and to those who truly need it."
Contact Brandi Dixon at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6556.