Lions roaring after 90 yearsPublished 12:00am Sunday, March 17, 2013
Obviously, nine decades adds up to a lot of years — and a lot of lives touched — for the Ironton Lions, the second oldest club in Ohio.
If even 100 people, a ridiculously low number considering all that the civic organization does each year, were positively impacted each year that means 9,000 people have had their lives changed for the better.
Now, let’s say that each of those individuals went on to have a positive impact on 10 other people. The total has now grown to 90,000.
How many people could they go on to impact?
That sort of six degrees of separation is exactly how civic groups like the Ironton Lions Club make our community a better place to live. It is a snowball effect that grows exponentially over time.
It has been my distinct honor and a humbling experience to serve as the club president as the organization celebrates its 90th anniversary this year and continues to try to live up to the motto of “We Serve.”
A man name Fred T. Davis organized the club that received its charter on Dec. 19, 1923. The first president was Howard E. Unrue. Both these men and countless other individuals over the years deserve credit for laying the foundation for an organization that has a long legacy of service.
This leap of faith came just six years after the worldwide organization, Lions International, was founded in 1917. Both have come a long way, with the overall organization growing to 1.35 million members from 46,000 clubs in 207 countries.
Right here in Ironton the club has about 35 members. Like most civic organizations, membership has waned in recent years for a variety of reasons.
But the Ironton Lions Club is all about quality over quantity. We do a lot with a little.
The club puts more than $10,000 into the community in aid and charity. In addition to the Lions activities at the district, state and international levels, the club has provided monetary support to the City Welfare Mission, Briggs-Lawrence County Library Vision Impaired Center, the Open Door School, scholarships, Ironton In Bloom, Ironton Little League, the annual Halloween, Christmas and Memorial Day parades, the 5K Veterans Memorial Day Race, eye tests and eyeglasses for children and other worthwhile projects.
One key project, which meets the Lions International focus of working to help those who are vision impaired, is to provide a service dog to someone who couldn’t afford one otherwise. The club has sponsored three dogs in recent years, each at a cost of more than $8,000.
This may sound expensive, but what price do you put on freedom? How much is the ability to function outside your home worth? I would wager it is far more than $8,000.
It is touching to see how important this is to those who wouldn’t be able to do the things we take for granted otherwise.
But paying for this community service isn’t easy.
Over the years, the Ironton Lions Club has raised money by putting on shows, war bond drives, a beauty pageant, golf tournaments, selling light bulbs and countless other projects.
Of course, the biggest fundraiser is the now-legendary Haunted Tunnel. Each October for nearly two decades the former State Route 75 highway tunnel has been converted into a one-of-a-kind haunted attraction.
It takes hundreds of volunteer hours and months of hard work. But it is all worthwhile when you see the faces of the people paying for a scare or get a chance to see the positive impact their dollars make.
It is only fitting that a club focused on sight was founded by — and supported over the years — by individuals with the necessary vision to keep it going for 90 years and lay the foundation for another nine decades.
Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Tribune. To reach him, call (740) 532-1445 ext. 24 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCaldwell_IT.