For 71 years, the Lord Baltimore Lions Club has been working to addres the needs of the community it serves.
According to its website, “The Lord Baltimore Lions Club meets the needs in our communities and the world. Our volunteerism spans from assisting the visually impaired, assisting LOVRNET (low vision rehabilitation network) interviews, working with local youth through scholarships, etc., providing emergency assistance to individuals and families, building ramps for handicapped individuals, providing medical equipment to those in need, etc., as well as providing disaster relief as needed.”
“We have four major areas of focus, but we also respond to community needs. Mainly, this year, it’s been vision, youth, environment and fighting hunger,” said club President John Monahan.
For the club’s Legacy Project, as a part of Lions Clubs International’s Centennial Celebration to commemorate its 100th anniversary in 2017, the Lord Baltimore Lions donated benches to two area elementary schools.
“As part of the celebration, Lions Clubs from around the world are working to help more than 100 million people and complete legacy projects that make lasting contributions to their communities,” said Janet Bauer, secretary and president-elect.
“With our legacy project, we purchased four benches — two for Lord Baltimore and two for John M. Clayton elementary schools. In order to do it, because of the cost, we had to go to the Delaware Lions Foundation.”
Bauer said she came up with the idea after walking the grounds of Lord Baltimore with Principal Pam Webb.
“I was looking at the playground and noticed there were no benches,” she recalled. “I asked if they would like benches. She said, ‘Oh — we would love benches! It’s just not in our budget.’”
The benches donated to the two schools are guaranteed for 50 years and are made out of all recycled products. There’s virtually no maintenance needed for them. The back of the benches is also engraved.
Bauer said the mission of the Delaware Lions Foundation is to support the Lions Clubs of Delaware in their humanitarian service to the state’s citizens.
“So, if any club in Delaware wants to do a project but can’t afford it — because the only money we have is what we collect from the community — we can go to the Delaware Lions Foundation for a grant of half the amount of money we would need.”
Lions looking to expand
Lions Club International currently has 46,000 clubs with 1.4 million members in 200 countries.
Next year, the organization plans to add two more focus areas to its mission — diabetes and pediatric cancer.
The Lord Baltimore Lions Club serves Bethany Beach, Ocean View, Millville, Clarksville, Dagsboro and Frankford. The club currently has around 60 members, ranging in age from 50 to 95 years old.
The club meets twice a month — on the first and third Wednesdays of each month at 6:30 p.m., at St. Martha’s Church in Bethany Beach.
“Somebody might not be able to attend the two meetings or even one meeting each month and think they cannot join,” said Monahan. “We are not lax, but certainly forgiving and flexible in terms of attending meetings. We have some members who do a fundraiser a couple of times a year, and we don’t see them at a meeting.”
Monahan said the club wants to continue its flexibility to reach out and encourage more community members to join its ranks.
“We love the richness and diversity in the backgrounds as well. I feel like we’ve really encouraged people to make suggestions about new projects. This club has evolved. It’s 71 years old, and I think we’re evolving nicely in our areas.”
“I tell people you can put in as much into it as you can,” added Jack Bauer.
Meeting dinners cost $16 per member; however, community members interested in joining the club may dine at their first meeting for free.
“We try to tell them and show them what we do — anyone in the community who would like to serve their community,” said Janet Bauer.
Jack Bauer noted that the complimentary meals are paid out of member dues, and not monies raised out in the community.
“Anything we raise through the public goes back out, dollar for dollar.”
They added that, despite what some may think, women are welcome to join the club and encouraged to do so.
“Our club is male and female. It’s sometimes a mistaken notion that it’s a men’s club, because there’s a Lioness Club in town, too. But since the late ’80s, it has been open to women, too,” said Monahan.
“Women are an integral part of what we do,” added Jack Bauer.
“Jack was a Lion for about three years before I decided to join,” said Janet Bauer of her husband. “It seemed like he was out a lot and I was home by myself, so I thought, ‘Well, shucks — I’ll join too.’”
“There’s something for everybody in our club. We’ve had members this year specifically interested in the environment, and they’ve been very happy seeing how much our club is doing in terms of supporting environmental projects,” said Monahan, noting that club has participated in grass plantings, among other environmental endeavors.
Jack Bauer said one member was interested in fighting hunger, so a group volunteers at the Delaware Food Bank on a monthly basis. Members also volunteer at the Mariner’s Bethel Feed My Sheep Ministry and previously helped the homeless shelter in Bethany Beach, now House of Mercy in Selbyville.
“We also do food drives and send the food to the Pyle Center or to the homeless shelter,” he said.
“This club is very active in this service area and a little bit beyond our service area, and you have to be proud of that,” added Monahan.
Club has a vision for helping community
When people hear “Lions Club,” sight often comes to mind. Monahan, who joined the Lions Club in 1983, said he did so because he wanted to get involved with an organization that focused on sight after his aunt had a stroke and lost her vision.
The Lions focus on vision screenings, offering their services to area elementary school students. The clubs also support the Low Vision Research Foundation sponsored by the Lions and collect eyeglasses to be recycled and given to those who may need them.
“We do have boxes around in a number of stores to collect used glasses. We just sent 16,000 pairs of eye glasses to a recycling center in New Jersey,” said Janet Bauer. “It’s a whole process we go through with these glasses. We sort them by sunglasses, bifocals, readers. The prescriptions will go up to the prison, and there they have a machine that can tell them what the prescription is. From there, they’ll clean them, put them in a little baggie and go back to boxes. They’ve gone to Nicaragua, Costa Rica…”
“Five-thousand this year went to Nicaragua,” added Monahan, noting that, this year alone, the club has received 21 requests from community members in need of eyeglasses.
Monahan also noted that the club has started working with the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Md., to interview incoming patients.
“In preparation for seeing their doctor, we do an interview with them. There are people in the club that are certified to do that. This enables the doctor to spend more time with the patient, dealing with the issue, instead of finding out the history,” he said. “Vision is one of our main core calling cards. And, of course, youth — we really have to protect our youth.”
As an active club, the Lord Baltimore Lions also serve Lord Baltimore and John M. Clayton elementary schools by hosting mini-parties for students who have received straight-A’s on their report cards.
“Whatever students received A’s on their report cards would get a little treat. We would bring in cupcakes and little juice punches — things like that. It started out with about 35 students at John M. Clayton and it’s up to about 60 now,” shared Jack Bauer.
“Then Lord Baltimore happened to hear about it and asked us if we would do the same for them. So, we’ve started doing our A’s parties for Lord Baltimore.”
“The competition is pretty fierce in both schools,” added Monahan. “We’re so happy that so many kids are excited. They tell us, ‘I was here last time!’ I was up in Dover one time and there was a library book giveaway, volunteering, and two of the students came up and said, ‘I saw you at our A party at Lord Baltimore.’ That was great.
“Children are a major service area. Youth is a major area for Lions. We only have the two elementary schools in our service area, so we want to do for both, equally.”
The club also annually awards scholarships to Indian River High School students. This year, three students each received a one-time $1,500 scholarship.
“It is academics, but the higher scale is on leadership. We are looking for a student that is committed to academics but also committed to being a leader,” said Monahan.
The club also works to loan medical equipment to those in need, free of charge.
I was amazed at the amount of medical equipment that we loan out to people. That was something I was never even unaware of when I transferred to this club,” said Monahan.
Since July 1, 2016, 560 pieces of equipment loaned out and returned, said Jack Bauer, who joined the Lions after helping them build handicapped access ramps for a number of years.
“That’s hospital beds, wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, canes, commodes, shower benches...” listed Janet Bauer, noting that most of the items were donated to the club.
“We’ve done over 500 handicap projects over the last 28 years,” added Jack Bauer, who has been a member for 14 years.
Yard sale to raise funds for group’s work
All of the club’s service projects are funded through a number of fundraisers done throughout the year.
On Saturday, June 17, the club held its annual Lions Yard Sale, with an accompanying bake sale, at Lord Baltimore Elementary School.
The club’s largest fundraiser is its annual car raffle — with tickets currently being sold. Other fundraisers include a fruit sale from November to March, in which the club sells fruit from Florida.
“Those are our primary fundraisers. Then we do other smaller things throughout the club, like we just got done selling Yankee Candles. They make small amounts. It all adds up. And people donate to the club, also.”
Jack Bauer said he looks forward to continuing to serve the community and hopes others will consider joining and sharing their time.
“We feel fortunate in what we have — not that we’re rich, but we have a nice lifestyle. People think of the beach area as rich, but you get two miles away from any of these beach towns and there’s a lot of poverty. There’s a lot of need in this area.
“I think all of us get that satisfaction knowing we can help in some way. I think, if you ask any Lion, that’s primarily what it’s about.”
“I found down here, in our club here, we have much more involvement — not only in the four focus areas but also helping different groups,” added Monahan. “When you give something, you get a lot back.”
Those who are interested in joining the club or wish to attend a meeting to check out the club can contact Janet Bauer at (302) 537-5175. To learn more about the club, visit http://www.e-clubhouse.org/sites/lordbaltimorede/index.php. To learn more about Lions Club International, visit www.lionsclubs.org.