Free Supper To Open Shelter
Lions Club International is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, and the Britton Lions Club is marking the occasion with a lasting gift that will benefit the community for years to come.
Lions Clubs around the world were challenged by Lions Club International to do a Centennial Legacy project for their communities for the anniversary, and the Britton club’s project is the Lions Centennial Pavilion located on the southeast side of the Britton Swimming Pool. The picnic shelter is available for community gatherings, family picnics, and many other activities and has electricity available.
Britton’s Lions Club came up with the idea for the project, and with help from the City of Britton, funded the project. Lions Club members also helped in installing the ceiling of the shelter.
Community members are invited to the dedication of the Lions Centennial Pavilion on Monday. Plans call for a free community picnic supper of pork sandwiches, baked beans, chips, birthday cupcakes, and lemonade served from 5-7 p.m. A dedication ceremony is planned for 6 p.m.
The swimming pool will also be open until 8 p.m. The meal is the Lions Club’s gift to the community to celebrate the organizations 100th birthday.
Lions Club member Ben Abeyta (DJ Sabotage) will provide music, and Lion Tom Farber will be the master of ceremonies. Picnic tables will be available but people are also encouraged to bring a lawn chair to make sure there is adequate seating.
Britton Lions Club member Larry Buntrock is serving as District Governor this year, and he noted that active Lions Clubs and viable communities seem to go hand-in-hand.
“It’s been an honor to serve as District Governor during the 100th year of Lionism,” said Buntrock. “When you look at progressive towns like Britton there usually is an active Lions Club that works together to improve its community, using the Lions’ motto: “WE SERVE.”
The history of the Lions Club begins in Chicago, IL, in 1917. Melvin Jones was a successful insurance agency owner and a member of the Business Circle of Chicago. He encouraged his fellow members to expand beyond their business interests and seek the betterment of the community, saying “You can’t get very far until you start doing something for somebody else.”
He also contacted similar groups, inviting them to meet and discuss forming a new organization. That very first Lions meeting was held on June 7, 1917.
Based on the success of that meeting, the first Lions Clubs convention was held in Dallas, TX, in October of that year, where Dr. William Woods of Evansville, Indiana was elected as the first President. Jones was named Secretary Treasurer and authorized to establish a headquarters in Chicago.
The new association expanded rapidly, becoming international in 1920, with the addition of a club in Windsor, Canada. By 1950, there were more than 400,000 Lions in 31 countries and the organization would soon include every continent with the establishment of a club in Casablanca, Morocco in 1953 and one by Antarctica research scientists in 1957.
In 1925, Helen Keller spoke at the Lions convention and challenged Lions to become “knights of the blind.” Lions enthusiastically accepted her challenge, expanding their service to people who were visually impaired.
To allow people who were blind to navigate streets more safely, Lion George Bonham painted a cane white with a red band in 1930, an innovation that is still in use today.
And in 1939, members of the Detroit Uptown Lions Club converted a farmhouse into a guide dog school, helping to popularize the idea of service dogs.
Many clubs continue to provide guide dog and other sight-related services, such as eyeglass recycling, vision screening, and eye bank support. Through these efforts, Lions have gained worldwide recognition for improving the lives of those who are blind and visually impaired.
Since 1968, the Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) has awarded more than $700 million in grants to support Lions humanitarian projects around the world. The Lions and its foundation also help communities following natural disasters by providing for immediate needs such as food, water, clothing and medical supplies – and aiding in long-term reconstruction.
Today there are 1.4 million Lions in more than 46,000 clubs in more than 200 countries and geographic areas. All are united by a single idea and slogan: We Serve.
Britton’s Lions Club was chartered on April 13, 1944, with 51 active members. Leonard Eikamp of Britton is the lone surviving charter member, but Don Jarrett and Chuck Card have been members for 67 years and Ron Jarrett for 61 years.
Sight and Service is the primary emphasis of the local club. Used glasses are collected to be recycled for use in other countries and vision screenings conducted several times each year. The group also supports a wide variety of community and youth activities, and built the chapel at the Britton Cemetery that also serves as a directory for those buried there.
The Britton Lions Club was the original sponsoring organization of the Marshall County Prayer Rock Museum and was instrumental in getting Fort Sisseton renovated with the help of Robert Perry.
The club meets the first Thursday of each month for a 5:45 p.m. dinner meeting at the Norstar Federal Credit Union meeting room.