Just over three years ago the Mowrystown Lions Club became the fifth Lions Club in Highland County. Now a sixth one is being formed.
Organizers of the Liberty Lions Club are meeting at 6:30 p.m. the second Monday and fourth Tuesday of each month at Southern State Community College in Hillsboro and they’re looking for local residents to join them.
The new club would serve primarily the Liberty Township area.
“Are there current needs of Highland County that go unattended? Who will supply those needs?” asked Charles R. Newland, a 31-year Lions Club member who has twice served as a district governor and is the organizer of the Liberty Lions. “We’re offering community-minded people an opportunity to be a charter member of a newly forming Lions Club. Several area residents have already completed an application for membership and paid an initiation fee for the new Liberty Lions Club. Initially, we are spreading information about what Lions Clubs can do and searching for needs we can satisfy in our community. When this club is chartered, it will be a Centennial Lions Club with special pins for each charter member to designate not only the ending of the first 100 years of service, but the beginning of the second 100 years of Lions service.”
Newland said it takes a minimum of 20 members to start a new charter and that he’s already received 12 applications for the Liberty Lions. He said he’s looking for community members from all age groups to join the new club.
Newland was quick to point out that there is already a Hillsboro Lions Club. But he said it once had about 75 members, is down to around 25 with many of those who are not active, and they are aging.
“They raise a lot money and do a lot of good,” Newland said, pointing out the club’s successful candy store it operates each year around Christmas and work it does at the Highland County Fair. “We are not trying to disband that club.”
But he said that what he wants to do with the new club is attract members from every decade so that the needs of all residents of the county can be addressed.
For instance, Newland said, eyesight has long been the Lions Club International’s primary service area. But he said that these days nearly every town has one or more optometrists, so there may be other areas the club can serve that need to be explored.
A handout Newland provided says, “While many Lions Clubs support projects that improve education, assist the disabled or improve the safety of the community, the possibilities are endless. Each Lions Club determines the projects the members feel would benefit their community the most.”
Highland County currently has Lions Clubs in Greenfield, Hillsboro, Leesburg, Lynchburg and Mowyrstown. The oldest, according to Newland, is Leesburg, which was established in February of 1940, and the newest is Mowrystown, which held its first meeting in July of 2013.
In the early 1900s, several groups of community leaders around the country met and shared their ideas on how they could contribute toward their community’s needs. Melvin Jones, an insurance agent, formed one of those groups. It was called the Chicago Business Circle. He contacted other like-minded groups and proposed networking together into one organization. In 1917 they formed the Association of Lions Clubs. The name LIONS is an acronym for Liberty – Intelligence – Our Nations – Safety.
For nearly 100 years the Association of Lions Clubs has grown to include 210 countries, a membership of 1.4 million, and adopted the name of Lions Clubs International (LCI), the world’s largest service organization, according to Newland.
Hellen Keller, spoke at the Lions Convention in 1925 and asked if the Lions could become Knights of the Blind, Newland said, which turned the clubs’ focus toward aiding the blind. Ohio Lions support eye banks, a research lab at Ohio State University, pilot dogs, and more.
Lions aided in forming the United Nations and once a year a day is set aside as Lions Day at the U.N. In 2009, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter nominated LCI for the Nobel Peace Prize. The same year LCI was selected as the number one Non Government Organization (NGO) in the world, the news release said.
“Collectively, big things have happened, but most important is the work that goes on locally. Today, we are focused not only on sight but also youth, hunger, and the environment,” the news release said.
For more information check out www.lionsclubs.org or contact Newland at 937-302-7595 or [email protected]
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.