Lions serve breakfast, generosity

“We Serve” has been the motto for Lions Club organizations around the country, and Fenwick Island’s own Lions group is doing just that next Saturday — serving breakfast, that is.

The Fenwick Island Lions Club (FILC) annual Pancake Breakfast, with all-you-can-eat pancakes, sausage, bacon and eggs, will once again be held at Harpoon Hanna’s on June 2, though dishing out food is just a sample of what the club has been doing for the community for years.

“I’m proud to be associated with these people,” said Lion Bruce Schoonover.

He hasn’t been a Lion as long as most members, but he has acknowledged everything the club has done for the community. The role of his friends and father in the Lions Club coaxed Schoonover into membership.

“We take the motto very seriously,” he said. “It’s really inspirational what these people do purely for the community.”

Husband and wife teams travel to nursing homes and residences for the club’s Meals on Wheels programs. “The Lions Club takes care of the people,” said Schoonover, “especially those who are less fortunate. Without the things our members do, some people wouldn’t have any social interaction. It really gives you a personal satisfaction to be doing something like this for someone.”

A group or roughly 18 FILC members is involved with aluminum can recycling throughout the area, taking time from their schedules to see that 4-by-8-foot bins spread through the community are tended, cleaned and emptied.

“It’s a filthy job,” admitted Schoonover, “but these people who deal with them show a tremendous care for the community.” This past year, the Lions Club raised more than $16,000 from recycled cans alone.

In addition, members have constructed wheelchair ramps, rebuilt stairs and assisted with yard work for those in the area who are unable to get around as easily as most.

Though the Lions Club finds ways to reach out to everyone in the community, the younger generations are at the top of their focus.

Six graduating seniors at Indian River High School were awarded on Wednesday, May 30, by the FILC with a combined $7,000 in scholarships, including a $4,000 John Furlow Scholarship, honoring the club’s longtime chairman of the Scholarship Committee, and a $1,000 scholarship called the “Skip” Higgins Memorial Scholarship, given by Cee Higgins in memory of her late husband and longtime FILC member. The scholarships are awarded based on both extracurricular activities and academics.

This year, Keili Ann Marvel, who plans to attend the University of Sciences in Philadelphia to study pharmacy, was presented with the John Furlow Scholarship. Peter Pierson Roenke II was the recipient of the “Skip” Higgins Memorial Scholarship, which will go toward his enrollment at Virginia Tech, where he plans to study agriculture and horticultural science.

Four other students, Sarah Margaret Benner, Karalyn Anne Roach, Philip J. Townsend and Heather A. Whippie, were each presented with $500 scholarships. Benner will attend Florida Atlantic University, where she plans to major in nursing. Roach will attend the University of Miami for engineering. Townsend plans to attend Salisbury State University to study history and law enforcement. Whippie will attend Cornell University to major in chemical engineering.

“It’s unbelievable what these kids have accomplished already,” said Schoonover, who met previously with each of the awarded seniors. “They’re great kids and all very deserving. It gives me an amazing feeling to be able to help them out. Seven thousand dollars doesn’t go very far in today’s age, but it’s nice to give something back.”

The FILC scholarship program began 15 years ago and has made more than $80,000 for aspiring high school graduates in their collegiate endeavors.

In addition to scholarships, another one of the chief aims of the FILC is their work in the community with vision correction. They sponsor events supporting the international Campaign SightFirst II fundraiser, initiated to raise $150 million for the SightFirst program.

The FILC is also active in a vision screening program, through which preschoolers and kindergarteners are checked for signs of amblyopia, or “lazy eye.”

“It’s important that this condition be caught early,” said Schoonover. Already, roughly 950 children in the area have been screened. Glasses are also purchased for families with financial issues.

All of the money raised from past breakfasts and conventions goes toward these scholarships and vision programs, and Schoonover doesn’t expect to see the number of members in the FILC taper off with projects like those to support.

“We’re always looking for new members,” he noted. “The more members we have, the better we can support our community. Naturally, the club attracts people who have the time and are willing to give back. It’s nice to have the time to do these things.”

Members of the Indian River High School Leos Club will assist with next Saturday’s breakfast. “Kids are getting started early helping us,” he added. “We’re getting more exposure for the right kinds of reasons.”

Tickets to the pancake breakfast — $7 for adults or $3 for children between the ages of 3 and 12 — are available from FILC members or at the door of Harpoon Hanna’s on the morning of the breakfast, between 7 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.