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The local Lions Club, along with the rest of the District 6-South East, received a $10,000 emergency grant from Lions Club International to aid people who have suffered from the Waldo Fire in Colorado Springs. According to local Lions President, Carol Meek, the club has also applied for additional funds from the parent organization.
Helping those in need is nothing new for the civic organization that was founded on June 7, 1917 by Chicago business man Melvin Jones. The organization now boasts 1.37 million members worldwide in 207 countries. The motto of the organization is quite simply “We Serve”.
Our local Lions Club does a variety of community service projects each year. Their point of emphasis is the Christmas basket drive. Last year they gave over 130 local families a Christmas basket, and Christmas presents to over 150 children in those families. The community involvement tied a record for donations.
The fact that Carol Meek is the president of the Lions became a possibility in 1986, when women were allowed to join the formerly all male organization. The local club has 31 members and will celebrate their 45th anniversary in December of this year.
In the early days of the national organization, the famous Helen Keller was a guest speaker at the national convention at Cedar Point, Ohio in 1925. She challenged the fledgling organization to focus on the sight impaired. That is a challenge the Lions have taken seriously and run many programs including KidSight to assist those whose sight is impaired.
For Lions, vision events like Lions World Sight Day, White Cane Safety Day, and Lions Eye Bank Week help raise public awareness of the issues. Lions also places emphasis on diabetes awareness.
In addition to the Christmas baskets the local club gives $1000 to graduating seniors from Rye High School. They have given as many as five scholarships in a year and as few as two.
Past President Gene Meek, husband of the current president, joined the organization in 2004. At that time the local club had over 50 members. Gene indicated the decline has been slow and gradual, although they have held steady over the last several years.
“Getting new members is tough,” he said. “People are on the go all the time. Often both spouses work and finding time is tough.”
The local club has a rich history. Eleven members have won the highest award the Lions Club International presents – the Melvin Jones Award. Local members Mona Soland and Bob Flynnhave both held offices in the multi District 6 area.
The club meets every 2nd and 4th Monday except in June, July, August and December. If you are interested in joining all you have to do is contact a current member who will begin the application process. It costs an individual $25 initiation fee and $20/quarter. If a couple join the initiation fee is waived for the spouse and it costs only $10/quarter for the second person. You can call 676-2221 if you have questions about the organization
For Gene and Carol the Lions Club is an opportunity to keep busy. Gene says he continues to be a member because, ”I continue to see the good the club does for our community.”