Fort Lauderdale Elks Lodge endures as social outlet for blacks By Gregory Lewis Staff Writer Posted October 15 2004 FORT LAUDERDALE � The yellow, two-story building on the corner of Northwest Seventh Avenue and Northwest Second Street does not look like an upper crust institution. But the Pride of Fort Lauderdale Elks Lodge No. 652 is the oldest black civic organization in Broward County. "It's the only place that had the well-to-do or the just-getting-by in the same organizational structure," said Carlton Moore, the Broward County commissioner who throws his election parties there. "It's always been inclusive, always been a service organization. Even in hard times, due to demographic changes, there's no greater social outlet than the Elks Lodge." On Saturday night, the black Elks will use their social muscle and civic pride to commemorate their 78th anniversary. They plan to launch a drive to raise $100,000 for HIV/AIDS awareness in a neighborhood devastated by the disease. The lodge has given clothing and shoes to needy students, scholarships to high school students, food baskets to families at Thanksgiving and toys to tots. "The tradition is to pass on the legacy of uplifting the community," said Willie Turner, a new member of the lodge. "We're sitting on the Avenue of the Arts, and everything around us has been enhanced. We're trying to enhance, too. " The lodge's dark interior is punctuated with a jukebox playing mostly old rhythm and blues records such as A Hole in the Wall, which could very well describe the lodge's old school feel. While various community groups meet there throughout the week, on Tuesday nights, for $5, all the fish and grits one can eat are served up while disk jockey Chico "the Virgo" Wesley spins blues records. Wesley brings in a live blues band on Sunday nights.