The McCreary County Lions Club-a local branch of the international service organization that does more community work in more places than any other service club-is in immediate danger of shutting down its operation.
Representatives of the McCreary County Lions Club announced last week that the local organization could possibly fold as soon as next month due to a lack of members willing and able to do service projects throughout the community. Members and officers of the club are making a last plea for new members in order to head off the dissolution of the Lions Club in McCreary County at the group’s next meeting in September.
Former President and current Vice-President of the club, Wendy Allen, urged people who live and/or work in McCreary County to join and save the Lions.
“It’s a great organization,” Allen exclaimed. “I remember going to meetings with my dad when I was a little girl. I wanted to join then because it was such fun. We want and need people to join and serve the community. Members don’t have to attend all the meetings as long as they can participate and help.”
The local club was established in 1946, and early on, was extremely active in the community. During its sixty-nine years of local existence, with residence in McCreary County not required, the McCreary County Lions Club has included a wide array of members who resided in McCreary County as well as members who lived outside of the county but worked at local federal agencies such as the Job Corps and U.S. Forest Service.
The Lions Club has served McCreary County in many ways. Ongoing service projects include eyesight programs (including help with the provision of eyeglasses, screenings, and eye bank surgery for those in need), food drives for the Christian Care Center, and the annual distribution of gifts and dinners for families in need at Christmas. The Lions Club is also active in supporting the District’s school backpack program.
McCreary County resident, Tammy Warman, vouched for the local Lions Club.
“Last year, my husband and I both were having major health issues and were unable to work,” Warman, with three children at home, explained. “Someone gave the Lions Club our names, and they brought us Christmas dinner and nice gifts. It was very sweet, caring, and loving. If it hadn’t been for the Lions and a few other families and friends, we wouldn’t have had anything extra at Christmas.”
Warman continued by asking the public to become involved with the organization.
“I want to ask everyone to please don’t let the Lions Club stop,” she implored. “They are wonderful. If they know you are truly in need, they will help. In this world, it is hard for families to make it without groups like the Lions. They sure helped my family.”
In the past, according to long-time member George “Buddy” Wilson, the Lions Club helped obtain a seeing-eye dog for a local man and built the Lions Club Pavilion and playground area at the former McCreary County Park (now McCreary Center of Somerset Community College.)
“In the good, old days, it wasn’t unusual for thirty to forty members to show up to volunteer for community projects,” Wilson remarked. “We also had good turnouts for club cookouts. Now, we are lucky to have five or six.”
Since the local Lions Club is dependent on fundraisers to support community projects, the current lack of membership is making it more difficult to do fundraisers and to serve the community. Several fundraisers from the past, such as the annual Pancake Breakfast, Candy Day, and Lions Club Circus, are no longer feasible.
Current McCreary County Lions Club President, Roger Branscum, emphasized the importance of the club, not only to the community, but to the members and their own families.
“We’d really love to have anyone join-especially those who are retired and have some extra time or those with families who would like to spend quality time with their children by involving them in food drives, coat drives, and other projects designed to give back to the community,” Branscum remarked. “I involve my children because children need to see their parents doing things larger than the family. Parents need to set the example of giving back to the community and helping those who have fewer opportunities.”
Branscum also mentioned an additional group of people who might want to join the Lions.
“I hope veterans will consider joining the Lions,” Branscum encouraged. “I know we aren’t a military organization, but we are all about service. For veterans, this is just another way to serve their community at the local level.”
Since the Kiwanas and Rotary clubs have disappeared from McCreary County, the Lions Club is the only open, non-military, internationally recognized community service club/organization still in existence locally. Those interested in joining and serving the community through the Lions Club can contact President Roger Branscum, Buddy Wilson, or Wendy Allen to apply. There is a $25.00 annual membership fee, and the club meets on the first Monday of each month at 6:00 p.m. at Papa’s Pizza. For those attending, a meal is optional. The organization invites anyone interested in learning more about the organization to attend the September meeting.