Fenwick Lions' pride stretches to Selbyville

The Selbyville Town Council was met by a full house Monday night at their monthly council meeting, but Bruce Schoonover, president of the Fenwick Island Lions Club quickly assured the council that the bevy of attendants were not there as disgruntled citizens. Representatives from the organization came by to introduce themselves and meet the council, as Schoonover announced the Fenwick Island Lions Club will now be encompassing Selbyville, as well as Fenwick.

Last autumn, the Selbyville Lions Club asked for assistance with the town’s annual Halloween parade, which they have traditionally organized, and the Fenwick group readily obliged. Over the past year, membership in the Selbyville club sharply declined, and the Fenwick Lions were finally asked to step in and take over the parade, and, eventually, the Selbyville club’s service area as a whole.

“The Selbyville and Indian River Lions Club, which was first chartered in 1945, has decided to close at the end of the month of June,” Schoonover said. “It’s truly a sad day for Lions. The Selbyville chapter has had a number of very fine members that, over the years, have done a lot for this community.”

It was agreed back in May that the Fenwick Lion’s Club would take up the slack left by the closure of the Selbyville club and provide services within the extended community.

“This request was embraced by our entire board,” Schoonover emphasized, “that we would provide these services. From a practical standpoint, we will work with schools in this area and school nurses to make sure the needs of students are met – in particular, with regard to vision difficulties in the young children.”

Lions Clubs have been closely involved with vision screening programs, in which children are screened for amblyopia, also known as “lazy eye” or “dull eye.”

“Studies have found, if it’s caught early,” he added, “it’s treatable, and the child can ultimately develop. If not, however, it can lead to vision complications and possibly blindness. The Lion’s Club has been a champion through this program. It’s truly a team effort.”

Over the past two years, the Fenwick Lions Club has raised nearly $27,000 in support of the Lions Club International Foundation’s (LCIF) SightFirst II Campaign, which has already saved the vision of more than 27 million individuals worldwide. There is currently vision screening being done at 17 locations in the Sussex County area, and last year alone the Lions Club ensured the screening of more than 1,000 young children.

“We will continue our services in Selbyville,” said Schoonover, “as we’re also committed to the town in our assistance our involvement in the Selbyville parade. We took it over last year and, by all accounts, it seemed to be a great success.

“I’ve learned from people in the area that the original parade dates back to the 1930’s,” he noted. “It’s a wonderful tradition, true Americana, and, really, for the kids. We’re pleased to be honoring that tradition.”

In addition, Schoonover noted that the Fenwick club will also maintain a booth at the upcoming Old Timer’s Day on June 20, work closely to assist at the Pyle Center and other social-service agencies to see that the needs of the community are met and render other services throughout the town.

“One unique thing that sets the Lions’ movement apart,” he added, “is that 100 percent of all the money raised by Lions Club goes back to the community and humanitarian services. Not one nickel comes out as salaries or any kinds of expenses for the Lions. Our motto is ‘We Serve,’ and our board of directors and members take that quite seriously. We would love to understand better your needs in the community and want to work with you to meet those needs.”

The Fenwick Lions Club has maintained more than 60 members, and a few from the Selbyville club have agreed to stay on board.

Selbyville Mayor Clifton Murray said he was pleased with the willingness of the club to accept the responsibility of covering the Selbyville area.

“We’re the ones who should be honored,” said Murray. “The Lions Club is a great organization. They’ve been around here for a long time, and it’s great to have people stepping up to see that it stays around.”

This Saturday, June 6, the Fenwick Island Lions Club will hold its annual All-You-Can-Eat Pancake Breakfast to raise money for their community service projects. The event, to be held from 7 a.m. until 10:30 p.m. at Harpoon Hannah’s along Route 54 near Fenwick Island, is one of the club’s major fundraisers. The cost for the breakfast is $8 for adults and $3 for children ages 3-12. Tickets can be purchased from club members and will also be available at the door Saturday morning.

“It was only natural for us to step in over here,” said Schoonover. “We’ve already done a lot of work in Selbyville over the years, and they’re our neighbors.”

The Lord Baltimore Lions Club has similarly picked up the Dagsboro and Frankford areas, which were previously part of the Selbyville chapter.

“These kinds of commitments to serve these communities can be expensive,” he said. “We want to be able to support the local townships and help the community wherever we can.”