A Meadows of Dan man wants to gauge interest in creating a local Lions Club International Club in Patrick County.
Danny Miller, who is a member of the Hillsville club, said there’s a club in Martinsville, but not in Patrick County.
“There used to be a Lions Club in Stuart years ago, and it went away. I’ve talked to people in Stuart, ‘oh yeah I remember that’ and they did a lot of good things I heard,” Miller said. “But sadly, and I’m right there with them, people get older, and as they do, many people don’t feel like they can do as much as they used to. Well, you can’t, but you can still do things. You can still help people.”
The Lions Club is an international service organization that began in 1917 in Chicago.
Miller said as World War I was still ongoing and several immigrants were coming to the country, Melvin Jones, the organization’s founder, wanted to do something to help others.
“He contacted some of his business colleagues and they got together and formed a group. Over the next several years it became a national organization and now it’s an international organization,” he said.
The Lions Club currently has around 1.4 million members worldwide with over 40,000 clubs in more than 200 countries.
Miller said the club is based on service and works to fulfill the needs of individual communities and the world.
“Right now, Lions International (has) funds to give to Florida to help with the hurricanes. Around the world, they support and provide humanitarian aid for disasters” on all levels, he said.
While the club does anything it can to help, Miller said it has five main initiatives of focus.
The biggest is its Sight First program, which addresses sight loss and hearing loss. It began as a way to help people who couldn’t afford glasses.
“Today on a local level, Lions Clubs collect glasses. Those glasses are sent to a recycling center in Roanoke, one of four in the nation. Every pair of glasses is manually inspected, if they’re good then they are thoroughly cleaned and sanitized. If they have problems, they’re broken or whatever, then the parts are recycled,” he said.
Its other main initiatives include environmental issues, hunger, diabetes, and childhood cancer.
Miller said he’s trying to get information about the organization to as many people as possible to see if there’s local interest.
“It’s for people who have a heart for service. That’s what it takes, someone who’s willing to give some of their time to help a neighbor,” he said. “That’s what it really boils down to people helping people. That’s what Lions are about.”
Miller said the club funds its projects through donations and fundraising efforts.
“The monies that they raise, 100 percent of it goes to their projects,” he said. “There’s not a lot of administrative costs. The club is the club. We pay dues” to cover those expenses, he said.
To start the fully chartered club he wishes to create, 20 members are required. However, to create a branch club of a parent club, only five members are needed.
Miller said there is also the potential to start a Leo program for children and teenagers. The program is designed for those 12 to 18 years old and focuses on the individual and social development of teens and preteens.
“Generally, they are part of a high school program to get the younger generation interested in serving, and they do their own projects and all,” he said.
As the club has not officially been formed yet, no meeting place has been decided on. However, Miller does have some places in mind.
Those interested in joining the club should contact Miller at (434) 610-1933.
For more information, go to www.lionsclub.org.