MILESTONE: Lions Club celebrates 95th anniversary
MILFORD – Where there is a need, there is a Lion, and Lionism in New Hampshire marked a significant milestone Saturday evening as many club members from Manchester and Nashua gathered to celebrate 95 years of being active in the Granite State.
The event, hosted at Hampshire Hills, drew many members and supporters to celebrate nearly a century of accomplishments, featuring several special recognitions. Aside from a cash bar and hors d’oeuvres, both of Manchester and Nashua’s oldest club
members received a presidential certificate. Bill Tickler of Manchester and Al Savage of Nashua received those honors, and proclamations were read on behalf of New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig and Nashua Mayor Jim Donchess. The event also featured special guest, International Director Mark Lyon and Lion Lyn Lyon MD23. In addition, the event featured past International Director Dr. Patti Hill from Canada, who is currently the endorsed candidate for international third vice president to be elected next July in Milan, Italy. She was the keynote speaker, although the two district governors and club presidents also made remarks. Despite being active for decades, Hill made it clear there’s still work to be done.
“Lions are a relevant solution, Lions are a relevant service group, Lions are also a relevant leadership development group,” Hill
Starting their service and leadership toward finding solutions, the Nashua Lions Club was chartered in September 1923, and over the years charter members have included three former mayors, three fire chiefs and a chief of police. This includes former Mayors Lester Burnham, Mario Vagge and Jim Donchess. The three fire chiefs include Albert Tanguay, Roger Hatfield and current Fire Chief Brian Rhodes. In addition, former Chief of Police Pal Tracey was among the club’s prominent members. Currently, the Nashua Lions Club is at around 80 members.
Ed Lecius, international director from 2007 to 2009, facilitated the speaking program and read the proclamation from Sununu.
“Whereas the Nashua Lions Club became New Hampshire’s second club to receive a charter from Lions Club International and over the last 95 years the club has returned over $1 million in services to residents in the Gate City in need,” Lecius read on behalf of Sununu.
Being Nashua’s oldest club member, Savage – along with assistance from Jimmy Stellos – both worked together on the club’s first major project, the construction of the Friendship Club in 1954. Furthermore, since the club’s inception and completing its first major undertaking, they have worked closely with Nashua school nurses by purchasing eye-testing machines for all public schools, twice. Furthermore, because of club members at Nashua Eye Associates, any child in school needing an exam or glasses is handled by them when notified by the nurse.
“Whether it’s eye screening or buying eye glasses for those families who can’t afford that essential, critical tool for their children, and you’ve done that,” Hill said. “You’ve been a part of that proud legacy that is Lions vision service. Now, those needs haven’t changed. We still have vision needs today in the world we live in now, but the world has changed.”
She explained how people can no longer get a cup of coffee for five cents the way they would when first chartered, however the needs are still there, and she said these clubs are still relevant and still called upon to do vision screenings. She highlighted other needs Lions Club members work to address, such as environmental issues involving plastic pollution and hunger. However, she paused to announce that after flying in from Paris, this was her first time visiting New Hampshire.
Moreover, as the years stretched on, the club has began doing special awards for those important pillars of the community, including Teacher of the Year, Police Officer of the Year and Fire Fighter of the Year.
The Nashua club also has sponsored six other clubs over the years, including Milford, Derry, Hudson, Peterborough, Hollis, Gate City and Nashua Everest Centennial. With a lot of work already under their belt, supporters will have to stay tuned in to see what they accomplish in the next five years before celebrating 100 years.
“We have to stay focused not only on the needs, but on how we’re going to serve,” Hill said.
Adam Urquhart can be reached at 594-1206 or firstname.lastname@example.org