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Carnegie Elks Lodge awards Gratitude Grants to local groups

| Saturday, June 10, 2017, 12:06 a.m.
Exalted ruler Al Montuoro with Gratitude Grant recipient Maggie Forbes of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall pose for a photo following the Carnegie Elks Lodge's annual Gratitude Grant reception held June 3, 2017, at the Ukranian Club in Carnegie.
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Exalted ruler Al Montuoro with Gratitude Grant recipient Maggie Forbes of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall pose for a photo following the Carnegie Elks Lodge's annual Gratitude Grant reception held June 3, 2017, at the Ukranian Club in Carnegie.

Trips to the zoo and meals for veterans who use wheelchairs are among the items Gratitude Grants from Carnegie Elks Lodge 831 will support this year.

Awards were presented to the Bradley Center, Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, American Legion and St. Vincent de Paul during the Elks Lodge's annual Gratitude Grants event June 3 at the Ukrainian Club in Carnegie.

Each recipient received $500 as part of the Gratitude Grant honor.

“How appropriately named,” said Pat Hargest, director of development at the Bradley Center, a Robinson-based education and living facility for children with mental and behavioral health and trauma issues. “The Gratitude Grant will allow our kids to be kids. More than anything else, these are just children like all other children. They need the same kind of things. That's what this grant will do. It will allow us to take them to the zoo and the Carnegie Science Center. It will allow us to buy them birthday and holiday presents.

“Whatever they need, and whatever they may want.”

The Bradley Center services 100 residents ages 6 to 18, and another 50 students in the day school program.

Grant money awarded to the American Legion will help in preparing a meal and bingo session for wheelchair-bound veterans on a Saturday this summer. Through St. Margaret of Scotland Parish in Green Tree, the St. Vincent de Paul Society will help struggling families with mortgage and bill payments.

The Elks and Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall have been affiliated since the Elks' establishment more than 100 years ago.

This year, Executive Director Maggie Forbes and Elks exalted ruler Al Montuoro are working together to apply for a national Elks Impact Grant to refurbish the World War I memorial on Beechwood Avenue. The annual regional meeting of the Elks will be held in the Library and Music Hall this September.

“It would seem the Carnegie Carnegie's affiliation with the proud and historic fraternal and benevolent organization is deepening,” Forbes said.

Forbes also was named the Elks Distinguished Citizen for the year.

“I was completely caught off guard when they gave me their Distinguished Citizen award,” Forbes said. “I kind of live and breathe not only the Library and Music Hall, but Carnegie itself. I am moved and deeply honored to be named a distinguished citizen of this amazing community.”

The Carnegie Elks Lodge currently has 64 members, though 11 live out of state. Montuoro and other members remain committed to recognizing achievements in the community and helping out where they can.

Montuoro has been a member of the Elks for 20 years, serving as exalted ruler (or president) for the past five years.

“Since I've been a part of this organization, we have donated $80,000 from the Elks National Foundation,” Montuoro said. “We love it. It makes us feel good. We are proud of what we can do for the community and we give our hearts and souls to making sure the good people and organizations are recognized.”

Hargest, of the Bradley Center, was impressed by the Elks' generosity, as well as the genuine attention paid to Bradley Center students when the Elks recently visited the facility.

“I am so grateful to work with the Elks because they're such cool people,” Hargest said. “We've developed a partnership with them in the past year and they are just wonderful, sensitive people. They spent a majority of their lives doing good things for the community.”

Matthew Peaslee is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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