Lion December 2012 : Page 6

Watch a video on the creation of the Rushmore Lions Nature Park. Famous Places, Regular Clubs by Jay Copp Throw a dart at a map and it will inevitably land near a Lions club. Lions are everywhere. LION Magazine threw a dart at a few well-known places on earth and found clubs nearby that are not only operating but also thriving. UNITED STATES Rapid City Rushmore Lions Club, South Dakota There may be no site more iconic in the United States than Mt. Rushmore. Turns out that the Rapid City Rushmore Lions Club is pretty iconic itself. “Our club has a lot of spirit, and I think it pretty much does what most clubs do,” says Terry Peterson, a re-tired high school English and journalism teacher. The 45-member club holds a pancake breakfast, cleans up a roadway and rings bells around the holidays for the Salvation Army. Weekly meet-ings are held at an American Legion hall, and woe to the Lion who forgets to turn off his or her cell phone. The tailtwister demands $5 for that indiscretion. One of the few traditions the club eschews is singing. “There are not too many of us who can sing,” admits Bill Carey, secretary. The club is proud of its Rushmore Lions Na-ture Park, built in recent years atop a onetime subdivision ravaged by a flood in 1972 that destroyed nearly 40 homes and killed about 20 people. That’s an iconic story, too, because LCIF’s very first grant in 1972 was for the Rapid City Flood. 6 LION DECEMBER 2012

Famous Places, Regular Clubs

Jay Copp

<br /> Throw a dart at a map and it will inevitably land near a Lions club. Lions are everywhere. LION Magazine threw a dart at a few well-known places on earth and found clubs nearby that are not only operating but also thriving.<br /> <br /> UNITED STATES<br /> <br /> Rapid City Rushmore Lions Club, South Dakota<br /> <br /> There may be no site more iconic in the United States than Mt. Rushmore. Turns out that the Rapid City Rushmore Lions Club is pretty iconic itself. “Our club has a lot of spirit, and I think it pretty much does what most clubs do,” says Terry Peterson, a retired high school English and journalism teacher. The 45-member club holds a pancake breakfast, cleans up a roadway and rings bells around the holidays for the Salvation Army. Weekly meetings are held at an American Legion hall, and woe to the Lion who forgets to turn off his or her cell phone. The tail twister demands $5 for that indiscretion. One of the few traditions the club eschews is singing. “There are not too many of us who can sing,” admits Bill Carey, secretary. The club is proud of its Rushmore Lions Nature Park, built in recent years atop a onetime subdivision ravaged by a flood in 1972 that destroyed nearly 40 homes and killed about 20 people. That’s an iconic story, too, because LCIF’s very first grant in 1972 was for the Rapid City Flood.<br /> <br /> CHINA<br /> <br /> Beijing Xieshou Lions Club<br /> <br /> The Great Wall of China kept invading armies at bay but what of the foes of the heart such as loneliness, want and self-doubt? Within a huge population with myriad, complicated social needs there are people who tumble through the cracks, struggling to find their place and be assured of their value. The Beijing Xieshou Lions literally show people that they count, that they matter, that they are alive and carry hopes and dreams. Club members locate marginalized adults and children, take their photo and then immediately give them the portrait, perhaps the first time in many years, if at all, that they have a visible keepsake of themselves. A simple push of a button on a common device touches a soul and lifts it high above mean outward circumstances.<br /> <br /> CANADA<br /> <br /> Streetsville Lions Club, Ontario<br /> <br /> This Canadian club near Toronto has a simple formula for staying highly active and robust. “We like our Lions being busy all year and that keeps them in the club,” says Shawn Anderson, president. The 40-member club, founded 60 years ago, runs or helps run a Terry Fox race, a walk for guide dogs, a Gaelic festival, a farmer’s market and a Halloween Spooktacular–and that’s just September and October. Its biggest fundraiser is the Bread and Honey Festival in June; Kraft Foods has a mill in town that makes bread. The 2012 Ceilidh (the Gaelic festival) was held on the rubber floor placed over the ice rink at the Vic Johnston Community Hall, where the club meets. Mississauga, the city of 713,000 that contains Streetsville, has eight ice arenas, some of which have four rinks. In hockey-mad Canada, the club has its share of connections to the sport. The club meets in a room at the rink, a public/private operation, at a reduced cost. Lions sit on the rink’s board, and the club, which helped build the rink in the 1950s, has pledged $100,000 to the rink over the next decade.<br /> <br /> INDIA<br /> <br /> Agra Mavericks Lions Club<br /> <br /> Built in memory of his wife, the queen, by a 17th-century grief-stricken ruler, the white-marbled Taj Mahal in Agra is regarded as one of the world’s most beautiful buildings. There are beautifully designed objects, human beauty and also beautiful acts. It can get fiercely cold in Agra in winter, and Agra Lions pass out blankets and tea to the downtrodden people who sleep on footpaths and roads. In the searing heat of summer, Lions set up water huts to slake thirst. Club members also support cataract surgeries, blood donations and shelters for the needy. The city of 1.7 million is a hotbed of Lions with 34 clubs. The 77-member Agra Mavericks club was chartered three years ago; all members were in their early 30s. The best is yet to come for the club, says charter President Nitin Kansal, whose father, Yogesh, is a past district governor. The club aims to grow to 100 members soon, and befitting its name, intends to “do some different activities, which will help the needy and improve our society,” says Kansal.<br /> <br /> BRAZIL<br /> <br /> Aracaju Nova Geracao Lions Club<br /> <br /> The Carnival in Brazil is a festive, high-energy celebration of life. It’s no place for those old in spirit or lacking gusto and pep. That holds true as well for the Aracaju Nova Geracao Lions Club, a nexus of youthful energy and idealism. Most members are under 35; nine are former Leos. Their service fits their age. After a destructive flood, they used Twitter to obtain pledges in one day for 4,000 disposable diapers. They’ve also used Twitter to obtain 500 liters of milk for needy children and deployed Facebook and Orkut to encourage students at a private school to donate 1,000 toys to underprivileged children. “We connect young people through the Internet and involve them in voluntary service,” says Jose Iroito Rego Leo, a biology teacher. “We give them a real opportunity to develop leadership, friendship and brotherhood. We’re preparing them to join the largest school–life.” Leo himself has found his place in life as a Lion: “Prior to joining Lions, I always thought something was missing in my life. Today I am a happy person.”<br /> <br /> SOUTH AFRICA<br /> <br /> Port Shepstone Lions Club<br /> <br /> Lions roam the plains of South Africa–and its schoolhouses, hospital wards, cataract camps and numerous other locales in which people are in need. The 40-member Port Shepstone Lions Club is a very active, highly visible club. Its flagship service project is a leadership retreat for Port Shepstone High School students. Its biggest fundraiser is the Annual Lions South Coast Show, a popular showcase for singers, musicians and comedians. Port Shepstone Lions enjoy being Lions. “We are all incredibly proud to be part of this wonderful organization,” says Past District Governor Denis Meyer, a business owner/web designer.<br /> <br /> ENGLAND<br /> <br /> Easton Bray and Edlesborough Branch Clubs (Luton Lions Club)/Harrow & Pinner/Milton Keynes Bletchley Lions Clubs<br /> <br /> Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world. It also happens to be the official residence of Her Majesty, the Queen. Even these Lions from merry Old England could not get the guardsman at the castle to smile: (from left) Peter Arnold of the Easton Bray and Edlesborough branch club of the Luton Lions Club, Lesley Spence, past president of the Harrow & Pinner Lions Club, Rachel Arnold of the Easton Bray and Edlesborough branch club; Past District Governor Andrew Allen of the Milton Keynes Bletchley Lions Club; and Neville Humphrys of Easton Bray and Edlesborough branch club.<br /> <br /> It doesn’t matter what nation a Lion hails from–those Lions moments happen. A project of the Eaton Bray and Edlesborough branch club, Rachel Arnold of the Luton Lions Club (in photo) delivered a plate of steaming fish and chips to an 88-year-old man, who was overcome with emotion. OK, the fish was tasty and the chips were mouth-watering, but Arnold knew there was a story behind the tears. Turns out the World War II veteran had been held as a prisoner of war. His guard was a Lion, who kindly made sure he had enough to eat. “The gentleman believed this was what kept him alive,” says Arnold. “Now at this stage in his life where he is old and frail a Lion is bringing him food again.”<br /> <br /> GREECE<br /> <br /> Athens Center Lions Club<br /> <br /> A timeless symbol of the birth of democracy, the Parthenon rises gloriously over Athens. The human spirit thrives in a democracy, and isn’t service to others a fundamental impulse? Doesn’t service flourish in a society in which people are free to associate with whom they choose and direct their lives as they see fit? The Athens Center Lions Club supports a center for blind women and a senior citizen’s home, bought a mini-bus for needy children and donated clothes for victims of wildfires. In a land that first cherished the dignity and worth of each citizen Lions are helping people live with dignity and purpose.

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