Holly Zakrociemski, office manager at Halpern Eye Associates, recently joined the Lord Baltimore Lions Club — as the first female member in a club that will celebrate its 60th birthday next February.
Zakrociemski said she’d been waiting in line at the post office when she spotted some Lord Baltimore Lions Club brochures, and started leafing through them.
“I’d worked with the Lions before, when they come to pick up glasses, but that was just once a year,” she said. “I’ve wanted to do something, have some community involvement, and reading the brochure, all the events and community affairs the Lions Club supports — I thought it was wonderful.”
In addition to providing eyeglasses to people in need, the local Lions support elementary school eye screenings, Lower Sussex Little League (LSLL), the Pyle Center food pantry and the Special Olympics.
They also loan medical equipment as needed, support the American Diabetes Program and put on a senior citizen’s Christmas party every year, to name a few.
Karl Gude, the local membership director, applauded Pat Murray especially for his work on handicap ramps — Murray’s built about 200 ramps around Sussex County, he said.
Local Lions partner with the Telephone Pioneers, and with Habitat for Humanity, from time to time.
Gude, a builder himself, remembered putting down a subfloor with some children from Grace Methodist Church (Georgetown). “Those kids must have had nails every three inches — they were having a ball,” he recalled.
The Lions formed in 1917, and now have 1.4 million members in 197 countries — the largest service club in the world, Gude said.
However, and despite the fact they’d been around for going on 60 years, he said many still considered the local Lions “the best kept secret in town.”
They did advertise a little, and put up signs for their events (like the chicken dinner or annual fruit sale), but according to Gude, a lot of it was just word of mouth. “When you’ve been doing this for so many years, people just know what’s going on,” he said.
So, why no ladies? He said they had a very strong Lioness Club detachment — it’s just that Lions Clubs International moved to mix both groups back in the mid 1980s, and withdrew the Lioness Clubs’ official recognition in the early 1990s.
He said the intent had been to boost Lions Club membership numbers (but it hadn’t really worked). At any rate, that’s the way it’s been since. Gude noted another Delaware Lions Club — Frederica/Spring Creek — that started out as a Lioness Club.
Those members formed an all-female Lions Club, and welcomed their first gentleman only recently — just as the Lord Baltimore Lions nearly turned 60 before welcoming Zakrociemski on May 4.
Although she’d been a little nervous as to how the others would receive her, she said everyone had been very nice. She said Gude had forewarned her of the situation, but it hadn’t swayed her decision either way, and she was honored to join the Lions.
For more information about the Lord Baltimore Lions Club, contact Gude (pronounced GOO-dee) at 539-3498 or club President James Beck at 539-9288.