Mayor Teri Johnston and the Key West City Commission proclaimed the week of January 8, 2023, Key West Elks Lodge 551 Commitment to Autism Week.
Key West Elks Lodge 551 members have served the veterans, youth, and the entire community of Key West for decades through scholarship programs, grants, and volunteer service for individuals and non-profit groups. They support community organizations such as Take Stock in Children, Florida Keys Cancer Society, and the SOS Foundation with grants funded through the Grand Lodge Gratitude Grant program and their numerous local fundraisers.
Most recently, the Elks Lodge donated $10,000 to the Autism Society of the Keys (ASK.)
“Autism is at a staggering statistic of one in 32 children in the US," said Hope Haley, a member of the Autism Society of the Keys (ASK). "Together with our community, we have supplied over 300 sensory boxes to every police, fire, ambulance, school, daycare, hospital, and airport in the Keys."
These sensory boxes contain comfort items that help people with autism during stressful situations. All of the agencies are trained in responding to emergencies with the aid of these tool kits. They contain white-erase boards for non-verbal people, noise-canceling headphones, weighted pillows, and fidget spinners.
"Our mission is to improve the lives of those affected with autism," said Haley, "so they can have independent lives.
Key West Mayor Emeritus Dennis Wardlow, a member of Key West Elks Lodge 551, said a special thanks to members of the community who made it possible to make this generous donation to the Autism Society of the Keys (ASK.)