Louisiana Elks Association, Inc.
Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks

National and Local Awards

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Don Baye
2018-2019 Louisiana Elks Association Elk of the Year

2018-2019 Louisiana Elks Association Elk of the Year

This year's winner of the Steve G. Jenkinson, Jr. Louisiana Elk of the Year is Don Baye who has been a member of New Orleans Lodge #30 for 25 Years where he has chaired several committees and held various Officer Positions. During his 25 years as a member Don was elected to the Office of Lodge Trustee only a few months of becoming an Elk from 1994 through 1997.ln 1997 Don was elected Esteemed Lecturing and moved up in the chairs up to Esteemed Leading Knight for the 1999 - 2000 Elk Year. Don was then elected Exalted Ruler of New Orleans Lodge #30 for the 2003 - 2004 Elk Year. Don is currently the Esteemed Loyal Knight and was most recently elected to the position of Lodge Trustee for the 2019 -2020 Elk Year.

During his 25 years in Elkdom he has been awarded with Officer of the Year (1996 - 1997), Outstanding Service Commendation (2009 -2010), Elks Distinguished Citizenship Award (2016 -2017) and the Veteran Volunteer Award (2016 -2017).

Don served as the DDGER Auditor for both John D. Williams, and George Kruger. Don served as LEA State Tiler in 1997 - 1998 and 2014 -2015 and was the State Public Relations Chairman 2010 -2012 and is currently the State Government Relations Chairman.

Don has chaired several committees which helped with our Veterans and the needy of our community. Since 2005, Don has been responsible for organizing and cooking the Annual Homeless Veterans Christmas Meal which serves over 200 people every year. This year Don was able to serve a traditional Holiday meal to approximately 250 Veterans volunteers at the VFW in Gretna, LA.

Don is the chairman for the Lodge's Holiday Food Basket Program where the Lodge provides food baskets to needy families in the community for the Christmas Holidays. Each month in an effort to raise money for the program Don would cook meals at the lodge as well as on Sunday's for the Saints Games, where all proceeds went to the food basket program. Through his dedication and effort, he was able to raise over $5,000.00 in additional funds to his budget which allowed him to provide 56 Food Baskets for needy families in our community. The food baskets contained items for a Holiday meal as well as enough groceries for a week for each family.

Since 1996 Don has chaired the GUMBO Committee where the Lodge cooks and serves the athletes, coaches and family members of the athletes, lunch on the day of the GUMBO South Games. Don has also portrayed Santa Claus the last few years for the Lodge's Annual Lunch with Santa where he brings the magic of Christmas to all the children in attendance.

Don has served on several other committees where he dedicates his time and energy with various Veterans programs throughout the metro area. Since 2015 he has served on the Veterans Work Force Strengthening Committee and the SLVHCS Annual homeless Stand Down Committee.

Since 2016 Don has volunteered at the monthly birthday celebrations for the homeless veterans in the New Orleans area and since 2017, he has served on the Punctual Care for Veterans at the new VA Hospital and Communications between SELVH Employees and Veterans.

Don has been married to his lovely wife Karen for 50 years and they have three children all who have become members of New Orleans Lodge 30. He served in the United States Navy as a Petty Officer Second Class from 1968 - 1973. Don is a dedicated and loyal Elk giving up his time and energy for our Veterans, children and our community. It is with great honor that I nominate my Father, Don L. Baye, PER for the Steve G. Jenkinson, Jr. Louisiana Elk of the Year.

Brian L. Baye, PER
Exalted Ruler New Orleans Lodge #30


Warren Hoffman
2018-2019 LEA Male Veteran Volunteer of the Year

Warren Hoffman is a member of Slidell Lodge 2321. He has been a diligent member of the Lodge's Veterans Service Committee for 8 years. He is an anchor on the committee working unendingly at the lodge functions and luncheons held to honor our Veterans. Warren also works hard at those functions for raising fund to support our Veterans programs. He is instrumental in securing donations from businesses in the community to be used in raffles and as door prizes.

In addition to working behind the scenes raising funds, Warren is out front visiting Veterans in local nursing homes. He is always ready to visit and entertain our Veterans. deliver goody bags and distributing our lodge's famous sought after fruit baskets at Christmas time.

Warren has a knack of connecting with our Veterans. It is obvious when he is around them that he truly cares about their comfort and well-being.

Terry M. Bruno
Chairman, LEA

Sonya Belgard
2018-2019 LEA Female Veteran Volunteer of the Year

2018-2019 LEA Female Veteran Volunteer of the Year Sonya Belgard

Sonya Is a member of New Orleans Westbank Lodge 2496 and serves as Chairman for her Lodge’s Veterans Service Committee. Herself a Veteran, she fully realizes and understands the needs the men and women who valiantly served our country. Sonya knows the-Veterans system and is instrumental in connecting the local Veterans with the proper coordinators to serve those needs.

She meets with homeless Veterans and works with the local agencies to find them shelter and housing. In addition, she works tirelessly heading up projects to help furnish and set up housekeeping for those find1ng homes. Sonya was· instrumental In rallying her lodge members to build an access ramp and deck for a disabled Veteran In the community.

Sonya simply states that she feels it is her Job to get our Veterans off the, streets, connected with good medical care, and make sure they never have to go hungry. Her undying love of country and her passion to help those in need Is exceptional.

Terry M. Bruno
Chairman, LEA



Donavan Seamster
2017 National Hoop Shoot Champion

Donavan Seamster - National Hoop Shoot Champion 2017

For the first time Louisiana Elks can now claim a Champion in the Grand Lodge National Hoop Shoot Contest. Congratulations go to Donavan Seamster who participated in the Boys Age 12-13 category and swept the 2017 Tournaments for his age group. In the local tournament Donavan had to win against his best friend and last year's national finalist, LaBree Williams, Jr., to move on to the state tournament. He made his last 15 shots in a row to accomplish the win shooting a final score of 23 out of 25.

In the Louisiana State Finals held in Opelousas LA Donavan again shot a score of 23 of 25, but this time another competitor rallied for a comeback forcing a shootout where each contestant gets 5 shots to determine the winner. Both kids had their worst shooting experience of the tournament journey with Donavan prevailing shooting 2 out of 5 and earning a trip to the Regional Finals in Dallas TX. Here the intensity of the competition continued to build against the best shooters from the four states region comprised of Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Louisiana. Donavan again beat all boys in his age group, and a Louisiana contestant was going to the National Finals for the second year in a row.

In Chicago IL our young man proved he was ready to shoot with a flawless practice round on Friday. At Saturday's finals contest, Donavan made all 5 practice shots and followed up with a perfect score of 25 out of 25 shots but making just barely enough to win over two other shooters who shot 24 of 25.

Louisiana Elks have now sponsored a National winner for the first time since Hoop Shoot was created 45 years ago. The Best Shot Contest named for Hoop Shoot founder Getty Powell is for the boys and girls champions of the three age categories. A 9 year old boy also happened to shoot a perfect score, and after 5 more rounds of 5 shots each Donavan had won. His final winning score was 49 out of 50 shots, a remarkable achievement for a child of any age.

Donavan is an only child being raised by his mother Latisha Jack where she provides a solid home life for Donavan. Sometimes she finds it hard to fund her son's basketball ambitions, but she is obviously doing something right. Her son is now the National Champion who will soon have his name inscribed in the National Basketball Hall of Fame as the best basketball free-throw shooter in the country.

The sponsorship of a winning athlete from Louisiana is a direct result of the efforts of all the lodges in Louisiana and of the efforts of those who came before us. Congratulations to Jodie Blackwell, Hoop Shoot Chairman of Shreveport Lodge #122 for the success of his hard work. And thank you to all the volunteers that support and make Hoop Shoot possible in Louisiana.

Ed Chandler, Hoop Shoot Chairman
Louisiana Elks Association

Donavan Seamster - National Hoop Shoot Champion 2017

Donavan Seamster - National Hoop Shoot Champion 2017

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