BY ANDREAS YILMA
NAUGATUCK — Lynn Allen first became a member of the Naugatuck Elks Lodge 967 about a decade ago to find a new place to go with her late husband, Raymond Allen, after their close friends sold a tavern.
Now the lodge will award her for making the lodge a better place.
Lynn Allen, 68, who is originally from Bridgeport but has lived in the borough for 30 years, is the lodge’s 2023 Elk of the Year. The Elks will honor her at a dinner Saturday at the lodge, 758 Rubber Ave.
Allen said she wasn’t surprised to get the award as she’s done an awful lot of work for the lodge; but added she’s still thrilled that she was selected.
“It’s about the highest honor that a lodge can bestow on a member and I’m absolutely honored,” Allen said.
Naugatuck Elks Lodge 967 Exalted Ruler Karla Phair said about 12 former Elks of the Year recipients voted for Allen.
Allen said she’s held different roles including being the lodge’s trustee for about two years, volunteering to bartend and currently serving as the chair of the Veteran’s Committee for about eight years.
Allen, who has a stepdaughter Leah and is retired, said she does some of the same things at the lodge that she does in her own home.
“I look around and I stare at something long enough and I think, you know, something would be better. We have a small office off the downstairs bar area and it absolutely irks me that there was all this unused wall space so I put up shelves,” Allen said. “That’s the same kind of thing I do at home. I stare at something long enough and say, you know, something belongs there.”
Allen said her main accomplishment was landscaping and maintaining the area in front of the grove building at the rear of the main lodge building. The landscaping started when she started trimming bushes in front of the lodge and stepped on a bee’s nest in the fall of 2019. Another member tore out all the old bushes with his machinery and Allen proceeded to have the area mulched and placed a variety of new plants.
Allen said she also cooks dinner one Thursday a month. This task includes planning a menu, shopping for ingredients and cooking the selection for the all members, She also has updated the kitchen and put shelves in the storage closet in the smaller rear building near the picnic grove.
When Lynn and Ramond Allen were both looking for a new place after their friends closed the tavern, it was Karla Phair’s late husband, Ed Phair who recommended for the couple to join the lodge, Allen said.
Lynn Allen said she was also able to fulfill Raymond’s dream, which was to align the lodge with more veterans’ activities. Raymond was a Vietnam veteran and was passionate about veterans.
“It’s taken me a few years but I’ve managed to align our lodge with the Naugatuck Veteran’s Council and the American Legion, the VFW and the (Veterans’ Administration) hospital and we have mutual events,” Allen said.
Allen said it’s wonderful being a member because the Elks motto is “Elks care, Elks share” and when Raymond passed away in 2017, people she was friendly with have since become very close to her and rallied around her
“After Ray passed away, I bought a house and I barely had to move anything. Everybody just pitched in and helped me move,” Allen said. “I’ve made wonderful lifelong friends there.”
Karla Phair said the lodge has about 360 members including some from surrounding communities beyond the borough.
Allen said she’s proud of what the lodge does for the community.
“We work with (Naugatuck High School).. When they want to have events, we donate our space. If they have fundraisers, they send students over when we need something in the interior painted,” Allen said. “We do things for the veterans. We do special Olympics. We host honor’s night for the high school.”
If you go
WHAT: The Elk of the Year Award Dinner.
WHEN: Saturday, 6 p.m.
WHERE: Elks Lodge, 758 Rubber Ave., Naugatuck.
MORE: Tickets are $25. Public welcome. Tickets available at lodge or by calling 203-729-7967.