Kari Senko is the first member of Mission Elks Lodge #30, and only the second woman, to be elected to the Elks of Canada’s grand executive. / Kevin Mills Photo

Meet Mission’s first Grand Inner Guard

Kari Senko is only the second woman elected to the Elks of Canada, grand executive

When Kari Senko first started with the Mission Elks, she came on board to manage the lounge. At that time she had no idea she would experience a rapid rise to the top ranks of the national organization.

Having been a member for just three-and-a-half years, Senko has earned many titles. Currently she is the secretary for Mission Elks Lodge #30, district chairman for Elks Region One, and second vice-president of the BC Elks Association.

As impressive as that seems, last month she earned yet another title.

In July, Senko was elected as a director for the Elks of Canada’s grand executive. While called a director, her traditional title is a Grand Inner Guard.

Earning this honour after less than four years is quite an accomplishment.

“It’s my understanding that this is the first time an Elk has sat on the grand executive from Mission Lodge, which is very exciting. And I’m the second woman ever to sit on the grand executive,” Senko said.

And at 50 years of age, she is also one of the younger people to serve on the national executive.

Senko’s rise in the ranks happened quickly. After attending a regional meeting, she was nominated to become a district chair, and won.

“That was the start of it.”

As luck would have it, the BC Elks Conference was held in Mission and once again her name was brought up as she took the second vice-president job.

Then came the national convention in July in Newfoundland.

This time, she wasn’t shocked as several months earlier she was told that a member planned to nominate her.

“Because I was already doing B.C., I was a little reluctant to take on another role.”

But after establishing that there was no conflict of interest having both positions, she let her name stand – and again won.

As a director on the grand executive of the Elks of Canada, Senko now has a voice in all the decision- making. The executive has many responsibilities, including developing marketing strategies and helping struggling lodges across the country.

Senko now attends face-to-face meetings twice a year as well as many conference calls with all of the national executive.

“We set the direction for all Elks across Canada.”

One perception Senko wants to fix is that the Elks is only for seniors.

“That is the perception of the Elks. We do have a number of younger members. I’m probably on the younger side, but this is really the demographic we are looking at and hoping to join because they can give a number of years,” she said.

Senko said she didn’t really know what to expect when she first joined, but it soon became clear.

“I just absolutely fell in love with it and what they do and what they stand for and everything we do locally, provincially and nationally. We do so much at each different level that I just started to get involved,” Senko said.

She said one of the biggest reasons she joined is that the Elks is all about communities, families and children, and their charitable causes focus on that.

“One of the main things we do is help children with hearing and speech problems. That’s one of the major things we do.”

The Mission Lodge also helps with fire relief for some local families that have been impacted by a blaze. The group runs the annual Easter Egg Hunt at Mission’s Fraser River Heritage Park, supports local food banks, works with the boy and girl scouts and, supplies food at the Mission hospice hike and run, holds meat draws and more.

“We are really doing a lot within the community, trying to bring the community together.”

Senko said anybody can be an Elk.

“All you have to do is come in, get to know us then be proposed by another member and become part of it.”

New members can get actively involved or just help out when they can.

“It’s as much as you want to do or as little as you want to do. I mean we hope that everybody comes into the organization passionate about it and wants to get involved.”

Mission Elks Lodge #30 is located at 33336 Second Ave. Anyone interested can drop by or call 604-826-3112.

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