By Lisa Young

Staff writer

Hotchkiss Elks Lodge No. 1807 has been providing North Fork residents with community, charity and compassion since 1950. While the building’s outside is nondescript, it’s what takes place within its walls and in the community that make the Elks special.

B.P.O.E Lodge No. 1807 beginnings were impressive with 190 men signing the original charter on July 15, 1950. The historic event was captured on the front page of the Delta Sunday Independent. The original charter with all 190 names still resides in the members meeting room.

Hotchkiss Elks Exalted Ruler Willie Gordon, a Scot, jokes that the only good thing an Englishman did was start the Elks. Charles Vivian came to America in 1867 to find his fortune, along the way he led a group of fellow entertainers known as the Jolly Corks.

After the passing of a fellow member, the group decided to officially form and take on a more benevolent function. So, on Feb. 16, 1868, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks (B.P.O.E) was born. The first lodge was dedicated on March 10, 1871 in New York. Each subsequent lodge is numbered in order.

When it comes to community, the Hotchkiss Elks is still a place for members to enjoy an adult beverage while they sit around the semi-circle bar, catch up with friends, joke and reminisce about life. A row of weather-worn hats hang above the bar stools. Each hat, once worn by a former member, has a story to tell if you only take a moment to listen.

When it comes to the extended community, Hotchkiss Elks remains a place where everyone is welcome to socialize, find a friend and share a good ole’ fashion country style breakfast or fancy dinner.

Tammy Broughton, clubroom manager, and husband Gary, have recently been promoting the Elks fabulous Sunday breakfast. Broughton said the first Sunday they served 53. The highest number so far has been 109.

“We get a lot of Crawford people here on Sunday mornings,” Broughton said. “What’s nice is you see people sitting there and they’re laughing, they’re visiting... we have our tables spread out, we sanitize them and we have hand sanitizers as they come in.”

Breakfast runs from 8 a.m. to noon and the price is right at $10 with drinks included. For those not comfortable with dining in, there is also a take-out option.

Friday night is Navajo Tacos from 5:30 to 7 p.m. And Broughton said with a special use permit, the Elks can host a number of events each year that are open to the public. They recently had a Valentine brisket dinner for $12.

Once thought of as a “good ole’ boys club” where men gathered to knock back a few beers, the national B.P.O.E gives millions of dollars to charity every year. And charity is high on the list of priorities for the Hotchkiss Elks as well.

“Last year we got a grant that was put towards the Hotchkiss Fire Department. They needed foam spray that you use for wildfires. We’ve done things for the kids like back to school picnics and backpacks,” Gordon said.

This year 45 families in the area received food baskets during the holiday season, many families were facing hard times during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Families were just so thankful for the food,” Broughton said. “Some were crying and hugging me.”

In the fall of 2019 the local organization showed its unwavering love and compassion for one area veteran. The organization raised funds to purchase a special hospital bed for veteran Pat Childress.

“As long as there are veterans the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks will never forget them,” Gordon said.

Sadly the Crawford Marine passed away only a few weeks after he received the bed. Gordon said the Elks would like to pass the gently used bed on to another veteran in the community. Anyone with a suggestion can contact the Hotchkiss Elks.

Hotchkiss B.P.O.E 1807 officers are Willie Gordon, Exalted Ruler; Chery Gordon, Leading Knight; Esther Koontz, Lecturing Knight; Janet Allen, Royal Knight; Louis Ketchum, Tiler Susie Finley Treasurer; Rex Emmons, Secretary; Dennis Durmas Trustee; Johnny Marta Trustee; Nolan Tracy Trustee; JT Hotchkiss, Chaplin; Jim Chandler acting Inner Guard and Tammy Broughton, Clubroom Manager.

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