“I’ve been a member for 33 years,” he said.
He joined the Griffin Elks Lodge in 1977. The Griffin Lodge is one of 30 Elks lodges across the state.
Whalen said both of his grandfathers were Elks members, as was his own father. One grandfather even served as state president of the Elks.
“I enjoy the work the Elks do, the social activities,” he said.
In 1982, Whalen was elected president of the Griffin lodge, a position he has held five times.
“I got involved at the state level and served as district vice president,” he said. “I think that was 1999 and 2000.”
After that, Whalen served as district deputy grand exalted ruler from 2000 to 2001. The deputy exalted ruler reports on the seven lodges in the district on behalf of the national organization.
Next, he was appointed secretary-treasurer of the Georgia Elks Association. He served in that position for eight years. He handled the organization’s money, oversaw bank accounts and took the minutes of the meetings.
In 2009, he became president-elect. He said the person holding that position spends the year following the president around the state and learning how to do the job.
He was sworn in as president in June.
“We have three business meetings a year that we president over — the fall, the spring and the annual meeting,” he said when asked about the president’s duties.
During the weekends, the president travels to various lodges for social events and meetings.
This year, Whalen has visited nine lodges and participated in cookouts and events honoring longtime members.
In December, Whalen will visit the national Elks retirement home in Bedford, Va., for Christmas parties and activities.
Whalen described some of the Elks’ activities, including a drug-awareness trailer that will be at the Kiwanis Fair this year. The club also provides scholarships for high school seniors; the deadline to apply for the scholarships will be Jan. 9, 2011.