VINTON–The Vinton Breakfast Lions Club held its awards dinner and installed new officers for 2016-2017 at the Vinton War Memorial on August 4.
Lion President Joel Lytton welcomed fellow Lions, their spouses, and guests to the annual event and reminded those present that Lions Club International is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. The Vinton Breakfast Lions Club itself was established 32 years ago. Current members Sam Cundiff, Galen Conner, Pat Simpson, and Keith Lafferty were recognized as charter members.
Lions focus on youth, hunger, the environment, and humanitarian service. In that spirit each year the Breakfast Lions award scholarships to William Byrd students in the name of Wallace Cundiff. Each year they take 18-20 needy elementary school children from the Vinton area on a Christmas shopping tour for clothes and toys and also sponsor special needs projects for needy individuals.
They fund eye exams, eye surgery, and eyeglasses for area children and adults in need, along with sight research and conservation. They support the Roanoke Area Swim Team. The Breakfast Lions purchase smoke detectors to be distributed to Vinton area citizens by the Vinton Fire and EMS department. They provide local elementary school students with extra clothing (just in case), school supplies, and snacks and refreshments, and assist with school projects and the Lions Quest Training Program. The Lions Quest program is a structured approach to prevent risky behaviors while cultivating positive social behaviors.
For over a year, the Breakfast Lions have spent countless hours rescuing the historic Gladetown Cemetery from overgrowth and debris. They have read to students at Herman L. Horn on Dr. Seuss Day and participated in Vinton’s Senior Expo. They collect and recycle eyeglasses (2,000 pair last year) at the Lions Eyeglass Recycling Center in Roanoke and have installed eyeglass collection boxes in Vinton.
Through State and Lions International they support diabetes awareness, the Hearing Foundation of UVA, disaster relief, and Bland Music Scholarships. Where there is a need in the community and beyond, they are there to serve.
They fund these projects and more by sponsoring the annual Pancake Breakfast during the Vinton Fall Festival and their spaghetti dinner the evening of the Vinton Christmas Parade. They sell brooms and participate in White Cane Day to raise funds. Their biggest fundraiser each year is the Draw Down Dinner.
Lion Eric Mills, Region 2 Zone Chairman conducted the induction ceremony for the new officers who include President Joel Lytton, First Vice President Hal Mabe, Second Vice President Galen Conner, Secretary Doug Adams, Treasurer Bob Benninger, Tail Twister Brian Conner, Membership Director Chris McCarty, and Lion Tamer Keith Lafferty.
Directors Jeff Stovall, Richard Goad, Sam Cundiff, John Berry, Jack Lipscomb, Paul Gensurowsky, Warren Huddleston, and John Dyer were recognized at the banquet.
Mills presented pins for 100 percent attendance to a number of members. Mabe presented years of service awards. The Past President’s Plaque was presented to outgoing president Chris McCarty for his leadership and guidance within the organization.
McCarty was also the recipient of the Lion of the Year Award for his tireless efforts “for this year and all years, for serving the community.” This award is voted on by the membership.
“If you want to get a job done, give it to Chris,” said Lytton.
The final award of the evening was the Melvin Jones Award presented to Doug Adams for going ‘above and beyond in service to the Lions and to the community.” This is the highest honor that the Lions bestow and represents a member who has made a significant contribution in all four areas of service: sight, work with youth, disaster relief, and humanitarianism. Past Melvin Jones Fellowship Award winners choose new recipients. Names of Melvin Jones Fellows are displayed in the Lions Club International Foundation Room at the International Headquarters.
“Service to others is what Doug’s life is all about,” said Mills. “He never does anything halfway. All you need to do is ask. He is a great Lion and a great friend to everyone in this room.”
Adams joined the Lions Club in 2010 and since then has served on countless committees and in several positions within the Breakfast Lions Club and the district, worked on every service project, coordinated the Lions Quest Training Program to assist youth, and worked as the floor manager for Draw Downs, to name a few of his contributions.
Herman L. Horn Principal Peggy Stovall attended the banquet with her husband, Lion Jeff Stovall, and personally thanked the club for all they do for the school from supplying hot dogs for Open House to reading on Dr. Seuss Day to providing supplies and clothing needed by students.
The Lions organization was founded by Melvin Jones in 1916 in Chicago. It has grown into the world’s largest service club organization with 1.4 members in 46,000 clubs in 210 countries. In 1925 they took on the cause of being “knights to the blind” as a challenge from Helen Keller. It is estimated that Lions Clubs donate approximately $449 million dollars and 76 million volunteer hours each year.
The awards banquet was catered by Jerry’s Family Restaurant in Vinton. Vocalist Tim Martin entertained the guests during dinner.