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u Harry Loucks (left) and his assistant Jim Porter manage the pavilion at the Colonie Lodge, where army surplus clothing is stored and displayed.


A Note From Robert Van Keuren, Stand Down Cofounder


kitchen.” Williams has devoted thousands of hours to organizing the Stand Down, work that has not gone unnoticed by his fellow Elks. Past State President Bruce Hidley observed that Elks volunteers at the 2010 Stand Down came from four districts: North, Hudson, Northeast, and State Capitol. “It’s very heart- warming, because the Stand Down is a tremendous undertaking for every- one,” he added. State President Michael Bloss said New York has 126 lodges and every one of them was aware of the Stand Down, adding: “Expanding is something we need to talk about at the state level.” If expansion occurs, the members of Cohoes-Waterford Lodge can write a kitchen manual for any additional host lodges—they’ve been on a Stand Down breakfast crew for ten consecu- tive years.


When Elks welcome the veterans to their lodge, they see the faces of homelessness. Doug Williams still remembers the faces of one particular family who parked their trailer on the


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O THE ELKS I say ‘Thanks.’ Your efforts are appreciated. You are saving lives. You don’t realize what an intervention like this does for a homeless veteran. Somebody at your Stand Down might say to himself: ‘Maybe I can stop drinking,’ or ‘Maybe there’s hope for a job for me.’ The success of a Stand Down is not always measurable. Gauge your success by the people who attend—the homeless veterans and the volunteers. When the Stand Down is over, you will know your Stand Down was worthwhile if the veterans and volunteers are saying: ‘What we did has value.’”


Colonie Lodge property two days before the 2008 Stand Down. The father served in Vietnam, but in 2008 he and his family were living without food, electricity, or a bathroom. When Williams was notified of this, he immediately went to visit them and quickly set about helping them. A first step was for him and his wife, Past Exalted Ruler Linda Williams, to go grocery shopping for basic food for the family. He also allowed the family to hook up their trailer to the pavilion electrical outlet, gave them a tank of propane gas so that they could cook in their trailer, and gave them access to the pavilion


rest rooms for two days. When the Stand Down opened, he introduced the family to all the service providers. Within weeks, the homeless veteran was hired as a roofer, he and his wife found suitable housing, and their child was enrolled in school. “Home run!” boomed Williams in a private meeting with the state officers and dignitaries who visited the Stand Down. “We helped one family. We need to keep doing that. The veterans come to our lodge because we’re friendly. If they’re down on their luck and they tell us why, we’ll try to help. Elks have done a lot for homeless veterans, but we can do more.” ■


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