When I joined the Rappahannock Lions four years ago, I was aware the club was involved in sight and hearing projects, along with an annual event for young cancer patients called Camp Fantastic.
Since then, I have seen that the Lions do ever so much more. My first-hand experience has shown me that the Rappahannock Lions are a dedicated group of men and women supporting a host of year-round, community-focused projects aimed at improving the lives of the young and the old and those less fortunate or able in our beautiful county.
This mission has been crafted over the past 54 years by many caring, selfless Lions Club leaders and members. When it sank in that I would now follow in the footsteps of these wonderful men and women with a leadership vision, my initial thought was to build on their successful strategies and accomplishments.
I also wanted to include the voices of all our current members. This second goal led to a meeting in June to hear from our club members; they’re the ones who will accomplish any vision. The meeting started with a discussion of fundraising, but I soon saw consensus develop around first gathering a list of community projects in which our members could participate by donating their time and many talents.
Of course, fundraising is important because we do buy eyeglasses and fund scholarships. But to their credit, our members felt we should concentrate on projects where our “sweat equity” demonstrated to the community that the Lions help in ways well beyond simply providing funds. Put another way: “We Serve.” Our members also felt that with this approach, Rappahannock County’s more fortunate citizens will more readily support those less fortunate when our members do ask for help or sponsorships during fundraisers.
So for 2012-13, Lion Club volunteers will tutor at-risk kindergarten through second-grade students by reading books as part of Headwaters’ Starfish Mentoring program; deliver and pick up for the Food Pantry; drive seniors to medical appointments and deliver meals for the Scrabble School Senior Center; and help the Rappahannock 4-H with its 5K race and driver’s education course.
Those new volunteer activities join a healthy project list of past and ongoing Lions Club volunteer support and financial assistance, including:
• Providing (and staffing) the club’s District 24-A Sight and Hearing Van to county schools to help assess students.
• Buying eyeglasses and hearing aids for needy students.
• Enhancing recreational opportunities by funding scoreboards, playground equipment, new baseball dugouts and soccer goals.
• Paying for supplies and equipment for the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.
• Funding scholarships for deserving high school graduates, the 4-H Club and the James A. Bland music contest.
• Continuing annual contributions for Shop with a Deputy and the Rappahannock Social Services Care Fund.
• Funding social trips for the Scrabble School Senior Center.
• Buying, cooking and serving meals for more than 100 young cancer patients at this week’s aforementioned Camp Fantastic.
We Lions also support timely special need projects such as improving the environment and renovating homes for the disabled. This year, the Lions plan to support the Town of Washington’s new nature trail with funding for a wetlands bridge. And the Lions will join the Turkey Ridge String Band and Gadino Cellars to host a fundraiser Friday evening, Sept. 7 at the winery to help defray the cost of leukemia treatments for Jacob Higgins, 15. We’re involved because Jacob is the grandson of former Lion Charlie Hilliard. The Turkey Ridge String Band will play its brand of bluegrass, Lions will provide appetizers and Gadino Cellars will kick in a percentage of sales to the cause.
How do we plan to pay for all these activities? Mark your calendars for Saturday, Nov. 3 for our 20th annual Raffle and ChiliFest at the Sperryville Volunteer Fire Department. A committee is working on details, but you can contact a local Lion for tickets and a chance to win a limited shot at the $5,000 grand prize. We’re also seeking sponsorships and financial contributions throughout the county, so if a Lion asks, please give generously! And don’t forget our upcoming Lions Apple Butter and broom sales this autumn. Every dollar raised goes back into supporting community events; Lions’ dues pay for administrative expenses.
Our Lions Club members are busy canvassing for needy community projects. If you are aware of a particular need, please contact Lion Dave Hilty at 540-675-2205.
Respectfully we serve,
Rappahannock Lions Club