It's of the new Elks Officers for the 2013-2014 year. From left to right it's Ron Domingos (Trustee), Tom Brunette (Leading Knight), Debbie Eto (Exalted Ruler), Gunner Lester (Loyal Knight), Michael Bates (Esquire), Larry Pilgrim (Loyal Knight), Becky Keyser (Inner Guard), Valerie Keyser (Chaplain).
To Debbie Eto, being the first Japanese-American Exalted Ruler of Sacramento Elks No. 6 is an honor. Unlike most previous exalted rulers who have gone “through the chairs” to the highest position, Eto became the Lecturing Knight in December 2012, only holding a Chair for a couple of months before being elected to the position.
“I was honored when I found out Marilyn Facha, who has raised thousands of dollars for Elks charities, nominated me. Even more surprising was being elected. I admit it’s overwhelming, but with this great crew of officers, help from friends, and the Past Exalted Rulers, like Jerry Landreth-Brusato, Ron Brusato, Jack Lewis, Richard Cherry, Bruce Synhorst, John Henmen and Steve Clazie, (who have volunteered to mentor the Officers) we’ll have a great year!” Eto said.
Every Exalted Ruler has a pin for their year and Eto chose the word “kanji” or benevolence in Japanese (kanji) to be written on hers. “It was important to honor my Japanese heritage and the Elks, who are known for being the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks,” she said.
As exalted ruler, Eto will be expected to oversee what goes on in the Lodge, appoint the committees, represent the Lodge at clinics and conventions, and most generally supervise all matters with Sacramento Elks Lodge No. 6.
Eto said tough economic times have hit the Lodge and so some of the challenges she foresees will be trying to increase membership. “I think Fraternal Clubs overall are facing lower numbers in membership than normal. It’s definitely a concern and a challenge. We will be implementing an exciting, fun membership drive and plan to be more visible in the community,” she said.
Since the building is set back from Riverside Boulevard, many people don’t even know the facility is there.
As the facility boasts a gym, with the heated indoor pool, handball courts, weight room equipped with numerous exercise machines, wet steam, dry sauna, jacuzzi, ballroom, professional kitchen, game room, and bar, those amenities alone would be reasons to join.
But to Eto the Elks Lodge is more than all of that; it’s about the people, the heart of Sacramento. “Elks Lodge No. 6 is the people. Most possess a deep sense of patriotism, fairness, chivalry, and dedication to helping others,” she said.
Over the years, Eto has met some amazing people at the Elks. “Elks want to help each other. They go out of their way to assist, to volunteer, to serve rather than be served,” she said.
One group within the Elks is the PM Crew (Preventative Maintenance), retired people who meet and do repairs on the building. “They are the heart and soul of the lodge … We’re not talking about just changing a light bulb either. These guys install solar panels, repair fire hydrants, build walls, put down floors; there is nothing they can’t handle and they work tirelessly for the lodge,” she said.
Eto wants people to know how much the Elks do for the community and charities.
joined the Elks in 2008.
The Youth Activities Chair, Michael Bates is overseeing the upcoming Soccer and Hoop Shoots. Loyal Knight Larry Pilgrim is in charge of the Essay Contests, PER Steve Clazie is the Chair for the Dictionary Program and Scholarships. Marilyn Hooten is our Elks National Foundation Chair. The Elks National Foundation is a perpetual fund with assets exceeding $400 million that provides millions each year for college scholarships, grants for higher education to children of deceased Elks and other charitable, benevolent endeavors. Bob Van Gundy is the Veteran’s Chair and has much planned for honoring Veterans.
The list goes on, Eto says, but don’t get her wrong. The Elks do have some great social events ahead. They have a Birthday Night every other month, a big Father’s Day barbecue manned by grill-master Ron Domingos. “It will be a day of games, contests, prizes and fun,” Eto said. And The Fourth of July party is not to be missed. Of course we have the weekly Sunday Morning Breakfast and Spaghetti Mondays.
“I would like to extend an invitation to the readers – the next time you find yourself where Riverside meets Florin, stop by and join us. I think you’ll be impressed with the people, the facilities and what Elks do,” Eto said.
Monday thru Wednesday 8:00 – 5:30
Thursday and Friday 8:00 – 4:00
Closed Saturday and Sunday
Jane Gallagher, Events Coordinator
Mon, Tues, Wed, Fri, Sat 9:00 – 5:00