SOMERVILLE, NJ - Every year the Somerville Elks #1068 selects a worthy member from within its ranks to recognize for contributions to the lodge and community - this year’s recipient, Jon Roethke, is no exception.
The event was attended by almost 200 friends and family, and included dinner, dancing and multiple presentations to the recipient.
The Roethke family has been long-time residents of Somerville. Roethke and his nine brothers and sisters all went to Somerville or Immaculata high schools, and were involved in many activities and sports along the way. Roethke remained committed to youth sports and coached several different teams over the last 20 years involving his beloved four children. He is a long standing member of the Somerville Recreation Commission and has been key in organizing the adult softball leagues for years, as well as bringing great insight into policy, financial and other issues.
Roethke has been a proud elk for 18 years, and has served his lodge in many capacities forwarding their mission. For the last eight years, along with long-time friend Keith Grade, he has chaired the Christmas Tree Committee. This committee, with the support of dozens of volunteers, organizes, sets up and mans the tree stand every December regardless of temperature or weather. It is a large undertaking, selling out hundreds of trees each year. The proceeds of this committee go to support (not surprisingly) youth oriented charitable functions, including supporting their on-site children’s special needs center, youth activities including their Antler program & scholarship programs.
Roethke also has a special place in his heart for the Somerville Elks Jack’s Kids Committee. This committee has been in existence for over 20 years. Its purpose is to support families in our communities that have children suffering severe illnesses. They support them financially for needs related to their children’s care, but also give them a broader family of support. Roethke has played in the annual softball tournament (their chief fundraiser) since its inception. He also has creatively raised funds to support the cause. This year alone, he has created two new fundraisers. In January, he organized a tailgate in the parking lot, selling spaces and incorporating a variety of raffles and prizes for the best one, prior to some of the NFL playoff games. The Elk Of The Year is entitled to a reserved parking space at the lodge. Roethke has offered his up by month in a raffle the night of the ceremony. The proceeds of both events went to benefit Jack’s Kids.
The Somerville Elks has been in existence for over 100 years, supporting families in our community. Their charitable trust supports six different charitable functions focused on special needs, youth development and our veterans. If you are interested in joining, please stop by the lodge after noon any day of the week and someone will assist you.