Amherst Lions Club celebrates 50th anniversary
AMHERST – More than 100 Lions, family and friends gathered at LaBelle Winery on May 25 to celebrate the club’s 50th anniversary.
The event honored past, present and future members, celebrating the privilege of community service and events, the challenge of fundraisers and the fun of membership, said Richard Ball, a charter member who opened the event.
Twenty-two clubs across New Hampshire joined the celebration and, with the emergence out of the pandemic, Lions speculated on the health of the organization’s mission and structure, offering that fine tuning rather than overhaul is in the future for Lions.
“Community building,” said Amherst Lion Brian McGuigan, “is more important than ever. Lions will need to figure out events and opportunities that detach people from technology – and make it fun.” He added that social technology and software has come to dominate social contact. “While it has its very positive effects, it’s one-on-one communication that really makes us human.”
Akinson Lion Anne Murphy said Lions membership will be secure if members are able to “light the fire” of community service among people – particularly younger citizens. The pandemic triggered a lot of people to reassess their volunteer roles because most had to step back from those activities for that period. “Lions need to re-kindle and advocate the important role of community service today to ensure strong clubs tomorrow,” she said.
Amherst Lion Don Tower agreed, noting Lions will still define the sense of community with service that engage all generations. “Our mentoring job today prepares for the future organization,” he said.
Bedford Lion Elda Cordero-Goodman said planning events that interest families is the key to recruitment. The Lions ongoing project to collect used plastic and turning them into town benches helps break the cycle of pollution is one example, she said.
All agree the Lions’ original mission to address sight and hearing issues will remain the primary focus, taking advantage of the growing use of individual health monitoring devices.
Milford Lion John Wynne speculated many of the Lions Clubs will consolidate and collaborate with other nonprofits because combining resources and expertise will have a greater and more effective impact on community service projects.
Keene’s Lion Christine Greenwood-Smart offered that virtual dinner and planning meetings will be more the norm rather than the exception, with collaboration of manpower and resources a practice throughout the state. As for the role of technology, she said vision screenings will report findings directly to optometrists, eliminating today’s paper handouts.
And cochlear implants – advanced hearing aids – will be more accessible and affordable, said Toni Olden from the Granite State Virtual Lions Club. She added the technology associated with individual health monitoring and reporting with become the norm rather than the exception.
Some traditions will, however, continue. Plans are underway for December’s holiday craft fair and next spring’s pancake breakfast, said Amherst’s next president Lion Steve Pray.
Amherst Lions Club continuing presence includes several events, fundraisers and contributions, including:
• Eye screening, exams and glasses subscriptions
• Hearing screenings and hearing aids
• July 4th parade float, popcorn booth and bicycle parade
• Citizen of the Year Program
• Spring Pancake Breakfast
• Mid-Winter Fire & Ice Chili Cook-off
• Holiday Craft Fair
• Christmas Spaghetti Dinner
• First Responders’ holiday dinner
• Arbor Day tree saplings for 4th graders
• Bridge of Flowers
• First Responders water rescue equipment, truck storage units, and all-weather jackets
• Amherst bandstand
• Town center flagpole
• Library outdoors granite bench
• Annual charitable contributions from fundraisers
• Summer car show
• Boy Scout Troops sponsor
• Warm clothing collection and distribution
• Pillowcase project
• Lending manpower to other nonprofits including the Amherst Junior Women’s Club and Amherst Garden Club