East Central Chapter: Ideas that Work
By Stephanie Parker, Bugle Intern
Only one chapter can claim “rookie of the year” status, and in 2010 Minnesota’s East Central Chapter took that honor through hard work and by raising a heck of a lot of money, netting more than $27,000 and earning the top spot in the Total Chapter Activity: New Chapter category for that year. The tight-knit committee of 16 men and women has continued to raise more money every year since through ingenuity, perseverance, and holding fun and original banquets.
“I keep trying to find other fun stuff to do that’s different,” says chapter co-chair Larry Wallin.
One of the chapter’s favorite games involves selling RMEF hats numbered one to 100, then picking a number and giving a rifle to the person whose hat matches the number. Even if you don’t win the rifle, you get a new hat!
Wallin and his co-chair Jerry Caroon started the East Central Chapter in 2010.
“I’ve been a member of the Elk Foundation since 1988 and I just was hoping to do a little more than just go to banquets,” says Caroon. “So I talked to Pat (McMullen, Minnesota’s regional director) and we started a chapter up here.” After the initial conversation, Kevin Cook, Minnesota’s state chair at the time, helped move the process forward and guided the rookie chapter through its first big game banquet.
Wallin had also been talking about starting a chapter closer to his home for years, he says. He had been going to banquets that were 50 miles away and wanted a chapter nearby, but felt he was too busy to start it himself. Eventually, though, “one thing led to another and I said, ‘let’s give it a shot,’ and we did,” Wallin says. “And four years later, we’re still here.”
Besides planning fun banquets and donating money, East Central’s committee members are also very generous with their time. Caroon volunteers at Elk Foundation information booths and BB gun shoots at Wild Wings and the Anoka Game Fair. The best part of volunteering at these booths, Caroon says, is that he gets to do it with his 13-year-old grandson. Another member, Jane Donahue, makes a handmade quilt every year. It takes more than 200 hours and once it’s done she donates it to the banquet’s auction. “It’s that type of support that works,” says Wallin.
McMullen couldn’t be happier about how the chapter has been doing since it began just a few years ago. “From the beginning, it was a totally rookie committee, and they’ve done an unbelievable job,” he says. “It’s just a heck of a chapter.”
For Wallin, being a part of this chapter has been a rewarding labor of love. “I like the hands-on part of it. I like seeing results,” he says. “I’ve put a lot of hard work and a lot of time into it, and I like that we can do something for the wildlife and future generations. I really believe in that.”