By Linda Andersen
The Lions Club in Lancaster, Minnesota is going strong as it helps fulfill the “We Serve” motto of the Lions Club Inter-national which is celebrating one hundred years of existence.
First, some history of the Lions Club International and the Lancaster Lions Club – According to a Lions Club International website (www.lionsclubs.org), “In 1917, Melvin Jones, a 38-year-old Chicago business leader, told members of his local business club they should reach beyond business issues and address the betterment of their communities and the world…After contacting similar groups around the United States, an organizational meeting was held on June 7, 1917 in Chicago.”
Ken Peterson, secretary of the Lancaster Lions Club, offered some information on the beginnings of the local group: The Lancaster Lions club was organized in 1961 and was sponsored by the Lake Bronson Lions Club. Orval Lund was the first president. The organization included only men at first but, beginning in 1995, women were allowed to join. Ken’s wife, Barb, was the first female member of the Lancaster Lions Club.
“The women have always done a lot of the work for the men anyway,” said Ken, indicating the women had actually been a part of the organization before being officially recognized as such.
Two men, Ron Hanson and Glenn Sanner, who attended the recent April meeting of the local group were charter members of the group that organized way back in 1961. Sanner has held continuous membership since that time. Hanson missed six years of membership when a job took him to Roseau.
Nineteen sixty-one was a long time ago and the two charter members have little memory of the first meeting. Sanner suspects they met at the old city hall and elected officers.
Asked about good memories of their involvement with the organization, both Glenn and his wife, Harriet, seem to feel a lot of satisfaction in the help they’ve given others. “It’s a good organization…They do lots of things,” said Harriet.
“We have lots of fund raisers. They are always designated for something,” they added.
Hanson commented on the main event of the evening, honoring the high school graduates, which he said has been an “annual thing for many years” and allows the graduates to see what the Lions do.
Hanson called the Lions Club an “essential part of a small town.” Conversations with a variety of Lions revealed just why the Lancaster club (which boasts a membership of 43) is so essential. The group played a major role in funding the new community center. They are now working on a playground with a lighted basketball court. They hold a blood drive two times a year, serve a free pancake breakfast at Easter, and plan an annual Halloween party and a Santa Claus Day. In addition, they hold bingo events to raise money for community needs and help with an annual highway clean-up.
The April meeting was a pleasant affair which included a spaghetti supper, introductions to the graduating seniors, a business meeting, and a talk by former Lancaster resident, Pastor Greg Isaacson. The seniors, who were accompanied by Superintendent Shannon Hunstad (and who declared them an exceptional group of students), introduced themselves and reported on future plans. They plan to stay as close to home as their own family farm or venture as far as Phoenix, Arizona. A variety of career plans were revealed including farmer, journeyman, nurse, and social worker. They’ll be attending such places of higher learning as the University of Minnesota Duluth, the University of Minnesota Crookston, Bemidji State University, Grand Canyon University, Concordia College and Northland Community College.
As with all organizations, officers and reports are an essential part of every meeting. Curt Sjostrand, who is the current president of the Lancaster Lions Club, led a business meeting. Secretary Ken Peterson read minutes from the last meeting, and Peggy Wilebski offered a treasurer’s report. The Lions Club has one unique officer, the “Tail Twister,” (in this case Greg Peterson) whose purpose is to add a touch of fun to the meetings. He good naturedly collected fines for a variety of transgressions from a number of good natured Lions.
A major point of business involved organizing for yet another good deed – serving supper at an upcoming senior citizen event in the community. Lions from around the room seemed happy to help out once again, quickly offering to prepare salads and bars.
Happy 100th birthday and many more, Lions Club!
By Linda Andersen