Eagle Lions Club: Hear them roar
Donna Weber, a 25-year resident of Gypsum, can see today because of the Eagle Lions Club.On March 1, Weber underwent cataract surgery for her dominant right eye – a procedure that was financed by the local Lions. Because she does not have health insurance and she currently supports herself on Social Security disability payments, Weber could never have afforded her vision-saving procedure without the assistance of Eagle’s longest-history service club.Weber said she has the date Tuesday, April 5 prominently marked on her calendar – that’s the next regularly scheduled club meeting and she plans to be there to thank those Lions in person.”They saved my sight,” she said. “I have powerful vision again.”Since its founding in 1938, the Eagle Lions Club has heard lots of similar thank-yous from lots of people.According to current club president Tom Verderber, the club will donate between $8,000 to $9,000 this year to help pay for eyeglasses and eye exams for local citizens. Additionally, club members will help test vision for dozens of local preschoolers as well as conduct eye exams during the 9Health Fair on April 16.”We are Knights of the Blind – as Helen Keller challenged us to be back in the 1920s,” said Verderber. “We are also the world’s largest service organization.”Today there are Lions on the ground in Japan helping the country cope with the after-effects of last week’s catastrophic earthquake and tsunami. There are Lions working to help people in drought and famine effected parts of the world. And there are Lions in Eagle planning their annual fund-raiser – a Spaghetti Dinner and Silent Auction on Friday, March 25 from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at Eagle Valley Middle School. That event makes it possible for the Lions to buy glasses and provide college scholarships and do myriad other projects that benefit the community.”We give back to the community. All our proceeds go back to people,” said member Steve Oakson.In these tough financial times, Oakson notes the need for Lions donations are greater than ever. “Normally our club helps buy eyeglasses for about 20 people, but this year we have already done 30,” said Oakson.Kids SightThe Eagle Lions Club doesn’t just sit back and wait for adults to ask for help. A couple of years back, the organization purchased equipment that allows members to do diagnostic screenings for young children. Member Joy Ortiz, a former elementary school teacher, talked about how important and fulfilling that project has become.Ortiz particularly remembers one little preschooler who was a perpetual behavior problem for teachers before the local Lions learned he needed eyeglasses.”All of the sudden his world stopped spinning and he could see what he was doing,” she said. “We can help a lot of kids like that. The satisfaction you get from helping a little kid and helping your community is priceless, really.”But to keep helping others, the club needs some help of its own. The Eagle Lions Club is on the prowl for more members.Ortiz noted that new empty nesters often find their way to the club after their kids leave the house and they find themselves with a bit of extra time on their hands. Member Judy Clock stressed that becoming a Lion doesn’t mean signing over all your free time. The club has two meetings a month – on the first and third Tuesday from 6:30 to 8:30 at Gypsum Town Hall. Beyond that, members work on special projects such as the upcoming 9Health Fair or concessions at Eagle Flight Days and Gypsum Daze.”I like the fact that all the money we make goes right back into our community,” said Clock.Before he moved to Eagle County, Oakson said he was a member of another service club back in Lawrence, Kan.”We did about a third of what this group does. It’s a busy outfit,” he said.Gets in your bloodEd Smith of Eagle holds the distinction of being the current longest-serving member. He has been a member of the club since 1975.”I joined Lions Club to meet people and then I got hooked on what we do,” said Smith.During the past 36 years, Smith has served as club president three times and done so many stints as treasurer or secretary that he has lost count. But even after 30-plus years, Smith said the club’s work always remains fresh – especially projects close to his heart, such as the 9Health Fair.”That event reaches a lot of people – 900 to 1,000 people show up for the health fair,” said Smith, “and every year, somebody gets some information they didn’t know and it sends them to their doctor.”Smith also proudly points to the Colorado State Lions Club organization’s work in establishing in the Rocky Mountain Eye Bank – the leading source for corneal transplants in the region.But Smith noted that the local club doesn’t restrict itself to the Lions central focus on vision. “Last year someone’s house burned down and we helped them with money,” he said. “We helped the Eagle Fire Department purchase thermal imaging equipment so they can tell if someone is inside a house when there is a fire. We are kind of all things to all people.”In the end, Smith believes that the Eagle Lions Club is a great example of the larger organization’s goal. The stories from the Lions, combined with the club’s history, clearly bear out that assertion.After all, the motto for Lions Club International is “We Serve.”A brief history of the Eagle Lions ClubThe Eagle Lions Club was chartered in August of 1938 with 33 members. Within two months, its membership had grown to more than 40 as more and more community leaders got involved with the Eagle service club.Early activities reflected the interests of these community leaders. During its first year, the club helped promote and secure a mill levy for community street improvements. It also started action on zoning ordinances in Eagle. Within two more years, the Eagle Lions Club helped develop an airport landing field, securing licensing and sponsorship for a new airport. Lion Eldon Wilson was one of the citizens most responsible for the creation of what today is the Eagle County Regional Airport.During the war years, the Lions sought the establishment of a CCC Camp at Yeoman Park, led the dedication program to erect a memorial plaque in the county courthouse to honor fallen servicemen, sponsored a collection drive for scrap iron and helped with service registration programs.Also during the 1940s and early 1950s, the Lions started several projects that the club is still involved with more than 70 years later. The local Lions began sponsoring holiday street lighting and decorating in 1942, and began bringing Santa to town in 1947. The Lions launched Eagle’s traditional 12th Night celebration back in 1953, according to club records.Eagle Boy Scouts can thank the Eagle Lions Club for their 70 years of local operations. The club sponsored the first Boy Scout troop in the community back in 1941 and that connection is still active today.Back in 1939, Eagle Lions Club records show the organization’s first college scholarship. In fact, that $75 donation was one of the first service projects the club provided. Since that time, hundreds of Eagle Valley High School students have received club assistance to help fund their higher education.Over the past seven decades the club has been involved in countless community projects. Here are a few examples:•Backed the group working to build a tunnel under Loveland Pass (Eisenhower Tunnel)• Helped establish telephone service to McCoy and Burns• Supported street oiling efforts in the days before Eagle had paved streets• Worked on Eagle River Valley water conservation efforts• Purchased the community’s first ambulance in 1958•Played a pivotal role in creation of the Eagle Fire Department• Provided funds for the Eagle Community House operation• Purchased large-print books and a television for the Eagle Library• Financed and built the first playground at Eagle Town Park• Paid for numerous July 4 fireworks shows• Planted trees around Eagle Town Park• Financed and built the tennis court at Eagle Town Park• Launched (and to this day has continued) organization and operation of the 9Health Fair in EagleFor more information about the Eagle Lions Club, call current club president Tom Verderber at (970) 401-4850. The club’s next meeting is planned Tuesday, April 5, at 6:30 p.m. at Gypsum Town Hall. Guests and potential members are welcome to attend and a free dinner will be served.- History material was compiled by former Eagle Lions Club President Paul SteinfortLions club international – A brief history• 1917: Lions Club is born – Founder Melvin Jones, a Chicago business leader asked a simple and world-changing question – what if people put their talents to work improving their communities? Almost 100 years later, Lions Clubs International is the world’s largest service club organization, with 1.35 million members in more than 45,000 clubs and countless stories of Lions acting on the same simple idea: let’s improve our communities.• 1920: Going International – Just three years after it was founded, Lions became international when a Canadian club was formed. Mexico followed in 1927. In the 1950s and 1960s international growth accelerated, with new clubs in Europe, Asia and Africa.• 1925: Eradicating Blindness – When famed advocate for the blind and deaf Helen Keller addressed the Lions Clubs International Convention in Cedar Point, Ohio she challenged Lions to become “knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness.” Lions embraced that mission to aid the blind and visually impaired.• 1957: Organizing Youth Programs – In the late 1950s, the Leo Program to provide the youth of the world with an opportunity for personal development through volunteering was organized. There are approximately 144,000 Leos and 5,700 Leo clubs in more than 140 countries worldwide.• 1968: Establishing a Foundation – Lions Clubs International Foundation assists Lions with global and large-scale local humanitarian projects. Through the Foundation, Lions meet the needs of local and global communities.• 1990: Launching SightFirst – Through SightFirst, Lions are restoring sight and preventing blindness on a global scale. Launched in 1990, Lions have raised more than $346 million for this initiative.• Today Lions Clubs International extends its mission of service every day – in local communities, in all corners of the globe. The needs are great and the Lions’ services are broad, including sight, health, youth, elderly, the environment and disaster relief. The Lions international network has grown to include more than 206 countries and geographic areas.- Source http://www.lionsclubs.orgSilent Auction at the Spaghetti DinnerWHEN: Friday, March 25, 5 to 7:30 p.m.WHERE: Eagle Valley Elementary SchoolWHAT: $10,000 in Auction items donated by area supportersTop Value Donor/ItemVAIL RESORTS: 1 Epic Echo Ski Pass ($619)Steve Carver: 2 BBQ Dinners for 16 people ($420 each)Stone Concepts: $500 for Counter TopsThe Golden Bear Earrings: Golden Baby Bear ($195)Other Top Value DonorsEagle Ranch Golf Course: Golf for 4 w. Cart ($250)4 Eagle Ranch: Dinner for 4 at Family Night ($200)Crabtree Gallery: 10 prints ($1,060)Gypsum Creek Golf Course: 2 Cert. Rounds of Golf for 2 with Cart ($125 each)Best Western Eagle Lodge: 3 month membership to Eagle Athletic Club, $340Alpine Bank: 4 Rockies Tickets ($170)Bravo Colorado: 2 tickets to the Vail Valley Music Festival ($96)Old Gypsum Printer: Printing ($150)Katherine Schmidt Photo: Black & white sitting fee only ($295)EV Medical Center: Wellness Certificate ($450)DECORATIVEThe Nearly Everything Store: Floating Fish-N-Lite, Stitch-opoly, Waldwick candleLights on Broadway: Ceiling Fan, $100Santa Fe Furniture: Bowl and Statue $85Leslie Robey: Decorative card & photo display, $40Heather Davis: Original oil painting, $200DINING CERTIFICATESAJ Brink Outfitters at Sweetwater Lake Resort, $40Eagle Diner: $25Dusty Boot: 2 @ $25Moe’s BBQ: $25The Rittenhouse: $25Red Canyon Caf: Bottomless cup of coffee, $40Heidi’s: 2 Gift Cert $25Paradigms: Dinner for 2 $50Mi Pubelo: $20Subway: $15Health/BeautyValley View Hospital Rehab: 2 Gel Packs $50 eachHigh Altitude SPA: Tanning bed package 5 sessions $35 eachHigh Altitude SPA: Tanning bed package 10 sessions $60Dr. David Foster: Massage $75Haircuts: Pam’s Hair Studio; Kuttin’ Korner; Mane Street Hair Design; Prizms Salon; Turning Heads, Heather FlemingFOOD/BEVERAGELeslie Robey: Gift basket, $41Leslie Robey: Gift basket, $68COSTCO Liquors: Wine, $180Jubois Co: Hot sauce $60Mac’s Liquor: Wine, $40Sweetwater Liquor: Wine, $40Broadway Liquors: Wine, $55Eagle Liquor Mart: Wine, $83LEISUREKids Cottage: Toys, $304Bookworm: Books, $68Timberline Tours: Jeep trip for 2, $158CVT Theaters: 2 coupon books, $80 eachHitching Post B&B: 1 nights stay, $99Home/Garden CertificatesNo-Hose Irrigation: $85 spring startupG. H. Daniels: 2- $50 CertificatesPERSONALEagle Valley Enterprise subscription: $30National Velvet: $300 in gift certificatesJoy Ortiz: Personal Organizer, $49Got Dogs: Gift Certificate, $65Shannon Hurst: Afghan with 2 pillows $200Steve & Sue Oakson: 2 Loose Thread carrying bag, $45 & $49SPORTS/RECREATIONVenture Sports: Ski tune, Bike tune, $50 eachEagle County Fair & Rodeo: 4 Rodeo tickets, ($48)Avon Recreation: Punch cards, $54 eachHot Springs pool: 2 one day pool passes, $30 eachWECMRD: 10 visit punch pass to Eagle Pool & Ice Rink $50AUTOMOTIVE ETC.Sinclair: Gasoline gas cardsNAPA Auto Parts: Gift Certificate $50Performance Auto: 5 Car washes, $60M&M Tire & Quick Lube: Gift CertificateGrand Junction Pipe: Small tools, $50WSC (Wylaco): Leatherman, $90Corky’s Gas & Car Wash: $50 Gift CertificateCASH DONATIONSFirst Bank of Eagle: $200 for Glasses & eye careCentury Tel: $100Jet Center Eagle: $50Valley Jet Center: $100Land Title Guarantee: $100Wells Fargo Bank: $100Jet Stream Seasoning: $50Pet CareCastle Peak Vet: $50 Cert (Not to include food)
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