By Debbie Adams
The Vinton Breakfast Lions Club met on September 8 to present awards to several members for their outstanding service and to install officers for the upcoming year.
Officers for 2022-2023 installed by outgoing President John Dyer included:
- President Hal Mabe
- 1st Vice President Jeff Mason
- 2nd Vice President William Moseley
- Secretary and Lions Club International Foundation (LCIF) Coordinator–Gary Myers
- Treasurer Bob Benninger
- Tail Twister Zach McCarty
- Lion Tamer: Keith Lafferty
Members who serve on the board of directors were also sworn in including John Berry, Sam Cundiff, Jeff Mason, Bob Capobianco, Joel Lytton, Clark Crawley, Richard Goad, Eric Mills, Jeff Stovall, Dave Jones, Anthony Conner, Keith Lafferty, Steve Haldren, and Mart Bartlett.
During the Awards Dinner, Denny Dickens and Gary Myers were presented with the prestigious Melvin Jones Fellow Award, the highest award given by Lions Clubs. The award from the Lions Club International Foundation is for “dedicated humanitarian services.”
“Named after the founder of Lions Club International, this award is our way of recognizing a fellow Lion who has shown a commitment to serve our club and our community,” President Hal Mabe said. “You serve because there is a need and God blessed you with the ability and willingness to do what the majority of others don’t do—and that’s to give of your time and talents.
“There are over 476,000 Melvin Jones recipients worldwide,” Mabe noted. “A donation of $1000 in the name of the recipient is made to the Lions Club International Foundation as this is one of their critical funding sources for sustainability.
“We, as the Vinton Breakfast Lions Club, gave our first Melvin Jones Award back in 1993 to the founder of our club and our first president, Wallace Cundiff. Wallace was an amazing Lion and someone who was an example of what it means to serve others first.”
Mabe noted that Gary Myers had been a member of the club since 2014. “He started getting involved helping with service projects almost right away and showed he was willing to help and that he really cared about those in need. He is also busy at his church and since he retired, he continues to add more work to his plate, yet he always finds time to ride his bike and draw up plans for building homes.
“Lion Gary has served our club as LCIF Coordinator, Foundation Secretary, Service Chairperson, and for several years as club secretary. He does an outstanding job coordinating the local Bland Music Foundation Competition for the Breakfast Lions each year. Congratulations.”
Denny Dickens has been a Lion since 2007. He served as president of the Vinton Host Lions Club in 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2018, and 2020. When the Host Lions dissolved, Dickens joined the Breakfast Lions and continues to serve through their club.
“Lion Denny Dickens is one of the leaders in the district in conducting vision screenings in our schools,” Mabe said. “During the 2021-22 Lions Year, District 24C won an award from Lions Kid Sight—Vision First. The district was ranked third in the United States for the total number of vision screenings conducted, thanks in large part to Denny.
“That says a lot to win national recognition for the work you do, and your focus on this project lets us know it will always be done and done correctly,” Mabe said. “We are proud to recognize you today,” with the Melvin Jones Fellow Award.
Lion Chris McCarty was named “Lion of the Year.” He was chosen for this honor for “best typifying the spirit of the Vinton Breakfast Lions Club. He inspires other members to do more.” He is known as a “bundle of energy” who has served three terms as president of the Vinton club and is currently the Zone chairman. He also received the Senior Master Key and Medallion for his recruitment of new members. He was described as a “relentless recruiter” for the Lions Club and has been influential in its growth to the third largest in the district.
McCarty thanked the members for the awards, saying, “The Lions Club is my passion and always will be.”
Chevrons were awarded for years of service to Denny Dickens (15 years), Chris McCarty (20 years), Jeff Stovall (20 years), and Dave Jones (35 years).
Mabe recognized those with perfect attendance at Breakfast Lions Club meetings, then presented the Past President’s Plaque to John Dyer.
A special award was announced for Lion Eric Mills for “exceptional leadership and devoted service.” He filled the role of District Governor last year while still remaining active in the Vinton club.
Myers recognized Lions Daniel and Dennis Hayes of the D. Hayes Company for their efforts in building a ramp requested by William Byrd High School special needs teacher Amy Boush for an area child with a rare disease. Myers applauded the men for working quickly to have the ramp ready within three days. Lion Eric Mills worked with the Lions of Virginia to obtain funding for the project in a very short time.
Lions Clubs International is the world’s largest service club organization with 1.4 million members in 46,000 clubs in 210 countries. They were initially recognized for their service to individuals who are blind or visually impaired, charged by Helen Keller to become “knights of the blind” to “crusade against darkness,” in 1925. Lions now collect and recycle eyeglasses for distribution in developing countries year-round as one of their major projects.
That commitment has grown to include a vast number of other service projects by the Lions. It is estimated that Lions Clubs donate $449 million and 76 million hours in volunteering each year.
The local Breakfast Lions are known throughout the community for their kindness and generosity benefitting Vinton area residents. They sponsor a variety of fundraisers each year including:
- Presenting four $1,000 scholarships to William Byrd High School seniors
- Presenting two $1,000 scholarships to students at Staunton River High School through the Ryan Chambers Scholarship program
- Presenting one $1,500 Leo Club Scholarship to a WBHS senior
- Shopping for clothes and toys for 18-20 needy children in Vinton area schools at Christmas
- Funding eye exams, eye surgery, and eyeglasses for needy area children and adults along with funding for sight research and conservation
- Completing special needs projects for Vinton area needy families
- Funding bus stops for the Vinton area
- Constructing a picnic shelter at Herman L. Horn Elementary
- Supporting Diabetes Awareness, Disaster Relief, the Bland Music Scholarship Program, and the Lions International Peace Contest through the state and Lions International
- Providing local school children with extra clothing, school supplies, snacks and refreshments, and school project needs