SOUTH PLAINFIELD - Bill Seesselberg has been elected by members of the South Plainfield Elks Lodge 2298 as Exalted Ruler for the upcoming fraternal year. Seesselberg, along with 14 members of the lodge, are new the leadership team for the next year. A formal Installation of Officers ceremony will take place when the COVID-19 quarantine is over and normal activities resume.
“I'm glad to have the opportunity to be a leader of this great organization,” Seesselberg said. “Usually, we have the installation ceremony and it's an elaborate social event, but we weren't able to do that this year due to the lockdown and social distancing.”
Seesselberg will stay on as Elks Chair of Youth Activities, a position he has held for the past year. He is also a member of the South Plainfield Board of Education and is on the South Plainfield Parade Committee.
“I like working for the community and being part of organizations like the Elks, summer drama workshop, the Board of Education or the Boy Scouts,” Seesselberg said. “I want to be part of what makes South Plainfield great.”
Each Spring, a new exalted ruler is selected by member vote to lead the lodge. Seesselberg was elected in February and the formal installation was to take place in early April, however, the ceremony has been put on hold for now.
When the installation does take place, Seesselberg says it will be a very meaningful experience. Seesselberg’s father, Henry Seesselberg, served in Korea with the United States Army from 1953-1955.
“My father was exalted ruler back in the 1970s, so I feel a little bit of pride to be exalted ruler,” said Bill Seesselberg. “He handed me down his Elks’ jewelry, his cufflinks and shirt studs, so wearing them will have added meaning.”
Fourteen officers were also selected to take positions within the lodge for one-year terms.
“I'm looking forward to when we can reopen the lodge and have a ceremony to initiate all the new officers and get the year rolling again,” Seesselberg said.
Newly selected officers include: Leading Knight Tom Browne, Loyal Knight Margaret Williams, Lecturing Knight Dan Uken, Esquire Irene Polanco, Inner Guard Brian Csobar, Jr., Tiler Paul Leepin, Chaplain Janice Dube, Secretary Sandi Smith, Treasurer Tom Perry, 5 Year Trustee Christine Sauer, 4 Year Trustee Eileen Uken, 3 Year Trustee Bill Reuter, 2 Year Trustee Tim Kelly, and 1 year Trustee Rich Salvatore.
Each member takes their post with pride to carry on the Elks’ tradition of 150 years of service and esteemed values. Nationwide, the Elks' organization dedicates itself to serving communities, helping in any way they can. With humble vigilance, the organization watches over the community, always ready to help those who need them.
This year, many of the Elks’ good works has been hampered by quarantine and social distancing, however, plans are being made for the future.
“We’re all looking forward to getting back in the lodge doing the good things that the Elks do, whether it's for veterans, the youth in town, community welfare, special children,” Seesselberg said. “All the good things we do are pretty much on hold.”
The South Plainfield Elks hold fundraisers almost every week to benefit local causes. The organization is known for its Elks’ dinners and breakfasts to benefit various Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts troops, baseball and softball leagues, district schools, South Plainfield Music Department, veterans organizations and many more. They often hold events for specific individuals in town in need as well.
“We have picnics coming up that we would have invited the veterans too, so this whole lockdown has caused us to cancel the fundraisers we usually do, but I'm sure all the other groups in town are having the same issue,” Seesselberg said. “We have a level of both frustration and enthusiasm to get back to doing the work around town.”
Seesselberg says Elks members usually visit the Menlo Park Veterans Home to play cards with the residents, bring them essentials and sit to talk with them. The Elks even bring the veterans to their picnics by the busload, but because of the safety restrictions put in place, it is not possible right now.
“I'm sure the veterans inside are missing going to activities or people visiting them to play Bingo or cards,” Seesselberg said. “The veterans homes, just like every other nursing home and hospital, are not allowing any visitors in for the safety of residents.”
Apart from frequent visits to check on senior citizens, Seesselberg says that numerous events have been canceled. They were sponsors for the Riley School Food Truck Festival and practically every weekend had a fundraiser breakfast or dinner for a local youth organization.
Precautions are also being taken on a statewide level too. The annual New Jersey State Elks Convention in Wildwood that takes place every June has also been canceled.
Seesselberg says he is proud to be a member of the Elks and looks forward to a productive year ahead.
“It's a great organization,” Seesselberg said. "The Elks do a lot of good things in town. We do a lot of good things statewide and a lot of good things nationally. There’s even a national Elks’ effort to create a memorial at Pearl Harbor. We help children with special needs and veterans, offer vocational scholarships and academic scholarships, assist with community welfare and youth activities. I’m extremely honored to be the South Plainfield Elks Exalted Ruler.”