Meet the Elk
Exalted Ruler, Mike Helmer
Tell us about yourself.
I grew up in a farming town in Central NY but have lived in Summit for 35 years and have a wonderful (Elk) wife Lori and 9 great (multiple Elks) kids. We had gold status with the Summit Medical maternity group. I’ve been on multiple local boards including the Overlook Foundation, the Summit Foundation, USGA Museum and Library Committee, the Summit Planning Board and City Council. I’ve practiced corporate law all of that time with offices locally and in NYC.
How long have you been an Elk?
I have been an Elk since October of 1992. My father and both grandfathers were Elks and my Great-Uncle Ronald Dunn was Grand Exalter Ruler from the Oneida NY Lodge #767 in 1963 so I inherited Elks blood. I was the only person in my initiation class and the Summit Elks had 10 new members that year. A far cry from now when we have classes of 25+ and initiate hundred(s) every year.
What does being an Elk mean to you?
To me it means and incredible sense of community and continuity. Too often these days people segregate themselves along School/Political/Social/Economic lines and I like to think that the Elks is the one place where we are all welcome and can interact socially. The Summit Elks has been on the same spot for 110+ years and is the place where community organizations hold functions and old-timers and newcomers can get together and share what it means to be a citizen of Summit and our surrounding towns.
What attracted you to the leadership role of Exalted Ruler?
The ability to help make immediate positive impact in the Community. We have such a loyal membership and dedicated group of bar staff and volunteers, that we can do something to help our communities on almost a monthly basis. Perfect example is the Veterans family fun picnic we just had at Echo Lake organized by our Leading Knight Rocco DiPiano. Hundreds of attendees who raised thousands of dollars for one of our signature charities and all had a great time. Just one of the dozens of charitable endeavors/donations we are able to do each year.
What are you most excited about in your new role?
The possibility of paying off our mortgage during my tenure as ER. The efforts of our staff led Lucy Leonard and Adam Parnes, and our past 4x ER Rick Wolffe, have put us in such a strong financial position that notwithstanding the $3.5M rooftop construction project we have a real opportunity to be debt-free by early next year. If not by then, hopefully we will have a mortgage burning celebration for the whole Lodge soon after. Fortunately we support the Fire Department so they will be on-call.
Share a fun fact about yourself.
During my first year in Law School I was an ice skater at Rockefeller Center. Also, I have two daughters named Grace. Confusing sometimes.