By Andreas Yilma Citizen’s News
NAUGATUCK — Brian Belcinski first got involved with Naugatuck Elks Lodge 967 playing in a card league on a Monday night nearly three decades ago. Now, the lodge will deal the 28-year member a top honor.
Belcinski, a 64-year-old lifelong Naugatuck resident, is the lodge’s 2022 Elk of the Year. The Elks will honor him during a dinner March 12 at the lodge, 758 Rubber Ave.
Belcinski said he was surprised by the honor because the lodge has so many people who give their time to many events.
“I was kind of really flattered over the other good choices,” he said.
Belcinski was an All State insurance automobile damage adjuster for seven years, but stopped working due to his disability from wear and tear from the occupation in 2016.
“It makes me very honored and very proud,” Belcinski said of winning the award.
He said he has had almost every position at the lodge, including the exalted ruler, president and secretary. He was responsible for music for most events, including as the DJ.
“Just being an ordinary guy, it really gives me a warm feeling,” Belcinski said.
Belcinski, who has three children and three grandchildren, said the lodge is a charitable organization that has donated car seats for children, life vests for swimming and fire protectors. The lodge runs programs without asking for any handouts, he noted.
The lodge, like many other organizations, is facing a lack of members, Belcinski said.
“They always seem to look at their phone or are busy with a task,” Belcinski said. “When you ask someone if you want to be involved, you get comments like ‘I’m always too busy. I got a lot going on.'”
Belcinski said youths are spending more time with electronic gadgets compared to his younger days, when young people invested in various organizations. Many groups ultimately will die out because of a lack of participation, he predicted.
“When we could be helping someone out, we’re too busy doing something goofy like playing video games,” Belcinski said. “We need to find the time to give to others, get out and do something to get involved, to socialize. It seems like people don’t know how to socialize anymore. Half the time, it’s as if they’re on the run and they’re not getting anywhere.”
IF YOU GO
The Elk of the Year dinner is March 12. A social hour starts at 5 p.m. and the ceremony is at 6, followed by dinner and live music. Tickets are $30 and the public is welcome. Tickets are available at the lodge, 758 Rubber Ave. For information, call 203-729-7967.