Local Elks Lodge helping community for 125 years

AMSTERDAM – Amsterdam Elks Lodge No. 101 has been serving the community and arranging events and activities for 125 years.

The city’s oldest organization is planning a quasquicentennial celebration Saturday to observe the anniversary.

Lodge No. 101 is the 12th oldest Elks Lodge in continuous operation in New York state.

Lodge elder Robert Reidy has been a member of the local Elks Lodge for 29 years, and he’s seen it change locations in Amsterdam a few times.

“In the 1920s, the Elks Lodge was built on Division Street in Amsterdam,” he said. “That was there until the 1960s, when we moved to a new location on East Main Street, and we moved from that location 17 years ago to the current one on 8 Fourth Avenue.”

He said the new location is a good one because it’s also used by youth programs such as Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and youth sports teams.

“We conduct bingo on a weekly basis,” he said, “and with that, we get the revenue that gives us the opportunity to give back to the community so that when we get requests for donations, we’ve got the revenue from our bingo participants to help out. It’s a very successful and good thing for the community.”

The lodge is supportive of veterans and provides many scholarships for students.

Helping the community was the main reason Patricia Cudmore, who holds the position of exalted ruler, was interested in joining the organization.

“I think it’s important to give back to those who have given to us,” Cudmore said.

Until 12 years ago, the fraternal organization only permitted men as members.

Reidy said allowing female members was a positive change.

“It’s been very beneficial for the Amsterdam lodge because we have a number of female officers that help us immensely,” he said.

Cudmore said she’s made a lot of friends in the organization.

“Once I got in [Elks Lodge No. 101] and got to know these people, they weren’t just members,” she said. “They became friends. We all work together, and I really enjoy the organization and what it stands for. I like being able to give back to the people who have given to me.”

Saturday’s black-tie celebration at the lodge will begin at 5 p.m. Among the expected attendees will be state Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk, D-Duanesburg, U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, Mayor Ann Thane and a representative for state Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam.

The celebration will include guest speaker David R. Carr, a past exalted ruler from Ticonderoga.

Reidy said the lodge has about 200 members. Although membership has dropped over the years, he said the organization is still strong.

Years ago, he said, the group had about 600 members.

“Years ago, people were not very fluid because there wasn’t a lot of transportation, so fraternal organizations were really big because it was a gathering place for people within the community,” he said. “Today, people are very fluid and younger generations are more involved in their kids’ participation with different sports and educational things, so their time is dedicated toward their families.”