Photos by Libby Rogers
The Huntsville Lions Club follows the tradition of serving in our community for more than 65 years. The club’s 40-plus members serviceWalker County; they meet at noon the first four Thursdays of the month at Grand Buffet, 111 IH-45, in Huntsville; the fifth Thursday, if any, is reserved for community projects. Meetings involve programs, which help educate members.
Currently at the helm is local business owner Jeannie White, who got involved with the club six years ago in order to give back to the community. “This club has always been community-oriented,” White said. “We still have some members that have been with the club 45 years.”
According to the club’s website, Lions Clubs International is the world’s largest service club organization, with more than 1.3 million members in approximately 45,000 clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas around the world. Lions are men and women who volunteer their time to humanitarian causes. Founded in 1917, the association’s motto is “We Serve.” We meet the needs of our local communities and the world: conducting vision and health screenings, building parks, supporting eye hospitals, awarding scholarships, assisting youth, providing help in the time of disaster, and much more.
“The Huntsville Lions Club supports fellow citizens whose lives we can positively affect. We are always looking for new challenges, as we are a progressive club. We welcome visitors, be they other Lions, interested citizens or potential Lions members,” the website states.
Internationally, the club’s mission is to collect used eyeglasses and assist people of all ages, who cannot afford to, in getting proper eyewear, as well as building parks, supporting youth and providing assistance in times of disaster.
“We work with Dr. Steven Black, who in turn works with patients, who may not know they are eligible for insurance coverages,” White said. “We do a lot,” she said. “We take civic pride seriously, and we doa lot of projects. I find that rewarding.”
There is a plateful of projects in the Huntsville Lions Club orbit; in2019 alone, the club’s members:
- Sponsored scholarships for Huntsville Independent School District seniors.
- Placed and maintained more than 300 Texas and the United States flags around the community on patriotic holidays, upwards of 13 times a year. They also will place flags out on special occasions, White said.
- Provided eyeglasses to students and adults in need. Collection boxes are located at various sites aroundHuntsville, which can be located at the club website at https://www.eclubhouse.org/sites/huntsvilletx/projects.php
- Tutored students in the Arise to Read program.
- Sponsored the annual Christmas parade, which White said was the club’s major event and fundraiser for the year, drawing thousands of people along the parade route.
- Helped deliver Meals on Wheels daily.
- Collected plastic bags for recycling into park benches. White said when the group collects 500 pounds of grocery bags, wrappers on paper rolls and the like, they are made into benches by a company called TREX. Since starting the project in 2019, White said one has been installed on The Patio on the Square, one is on the way, and they are 1/5th into getting enough recyclable material for a third bench. Collection sites are at Curves in Huntsville and Willis, Snap Fitness, Vera Bank, ProsperityBank in New Waverly and MRC-Creekside. A list of items that can be accepted can be found at https://s7d4.scene7.com/is/content/Trex/trexrecycling-posterpdf.pdf
- Assisted with the Walker County Children’s Fair.
- Served meals at and provided food for the Good Shepherd Mission.
- Provided home repairs and built wheelchair ramps for local families.
- Participated in POPS (Promote Our Positives) program for local students.
- Sponsored the inaugural Coats for Kids project, which, with help from local businesses, churches and residents, provided 300 winter coats to children aged 4 to 10. “School counselors will get a call about a child in need, and within an hour they will have a coat,” White said.
- Sponsored children with Down’s syndrome, and those suffering from diabetes and other physical challenges, to attend Texas Lions Camp in Kerrville. The camp is located in Texas Hill Country near Kerrville and offers campers “a chance to try new activities and create long-lasting friendships while developing greater self-esteem and independence,” according to information provided by the club. “If you know of anyone with disabilities, we will send them,”
One success story White is especially fond of involves a child with diabetes. “She had never been far away from home because her mom had to give her insulin injections,” White said. “She went to camp for that week, and when she returned, she was able to do her own injections, because (the camp counselors) taught her how to do it. There are doctors and nurses at the camp 24 hours per day, she said. “It made her more independent, so now she can go and spend the night with friends and not worry about her medication, because she can handle it herself,” White said.
The camp itself was the reason behind White’s involvement withLions. “My oldest son was a sponsor at the camp for two years, and that’s when I learned about Lions Club,” she said. “(When we opened the business) here, Liesa Hackett became my sponsor.”
What makes the time spent worthwhile forWhite, though, is hearing the stories and the remarks of the children who attend the annual camp, and she says it’s a good feeling to join a club and get involved. “If you want to work in a community, we’ll find you a place,” she said.“Be serious, and help where it’s needed. I love this community.”
To become a member of the Lions Club, contact White at 936-755-3811 or Vice President Larry Graves at 936-291-7300.
White said prospective members can fill out an application at any of the weekly meetings; there is a $25 application fee, and members pay $40 per month per family. All funds raised go right back to the community, not toward club necessities, which White said was one of the things she admires about Lions.