• warning: Parameter 2 to ed_classified_link_alter() expected to be a reference, value given in /home/soloneconomist/www/www/includes/common.inc on line 2968.
  • warning: Parameter 2 to ed_classified_link_alter() expected to be a reference, value given in /home/soloneconomist/www/www/includes/common.inc on line 2968.

Lions roar at Centennial club’s charter party

New Solon service group ready to find local projects
Charter members of the Solon Centennial Lions Club mingle with guests from other area clubs during a charter party Saturday, April 29, at the Lake MacBride Golf Course. Close to 100 people attended the event, which officially formed the new Solon service club. (photos by Doug Lindner)

By Doug Lindner
Solon Economist
SOLON– It’s official.
Members of the Solon Centennial Lions Club signed their organizational charter individually at a commemorative party April 29 at the Lake MacBride Golf Course.
Close to 100 people, including visiting Lions from clubs as far away as Des Moines and Illinois, attended the festivities which included the presentation of the club’s banner, the swearing in of charter members and remarks by Past International Director and Ely native Ron Duffe.
“He gave just a spot-on message,” said Solon Centennial Lions Club First Vice President Dan Woessner. Duffe recapped Lions Club efforts at home and abroad, Woessner said, and applauded the fledgling Solon chapter for the excitement he saw in the community.
Many people present complimented Solon charter members on the spirit and energy of the new club, he said.
“They were very impressed with how we initiated it starting on Jan. 1 and just ran with it,” Woessner said.
Lions Club organizers visited Solon in mid-January to gauge interest in a new service organization, and on Jan. 20, the group’s first formal meeting was held at Solon City Hall.
Lions Club International is the world’s largest service organization, with 1.4 million volunteers in 210 countries. The largest sponsor of Boy Scouts in the world, Lions Clubs is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2017. The Solon club adopted “Centennial” as the name of the club in honor of the anniversary.
For nearly 90 years, Lions Clubs have nurtured a tradition of helping the visually impaired, and Iowa Lions support the Iowa Lions Eye Bank, as well as the KidSight screening program.
Solon Centennial Lions Club President Scott Kleppe indicated the new group would make its own way following in those footsteps.
“We still need to find the identity of our own club,” Kleppe said. “We need to find out what the needs are in the community.”
Most Lions clubs focus on a few annual programs each year, Woessner said. The Solon Lions will ask the community how best to serve the area.
There’s lot of fundraising done locally, Woessner said, making it important for the club to identify needs which may not be apparent on the surface, like a family in need of a home handicapped ramp.
“We’re the type of organization that can do something like that,” Woessner said.
The local Lions already got their feet wet with a couple of traditional programs.
Kleppe said the Solon club put out a limited number of collection containers for unwanted eyeglasses (the Lions are the largest collector of eyeglasses in the world) and recently assisted with a KidSight screening at Solon Learning Academy conducted by Iowa City Lions.
Solon Lions will soon decide a date to undergo training for the program, he said.
“Our first major screening event will be held on Saturday of Beef Days,” Kleppe said.
The Solon Lions will also be raising funds to purchase their own handheld diagnostic camera, which is used to take photos of children’s eyes from age 6 months to 6 years to screen for a number of easily detectable vision issues.
“Those machines are about $10,000,” Woessner said.
Providing programs like KidSight costs money, and to that end the Solon Centennial Lions Club undertook a capital campaign prior to the charter party.
The fundraising started in March with a goal of raising $5,000 for a specific program of work, he said, and by charter night the group accumulated $13,000.
“We reached out to some individuals and companies and wholeheartedly got their support,” Kleppe said.
The local Lions chapter recently held a “Your Community Essay Contest” for first through fourth graders, with plans to provide future services, in some form, to children and adults with diabetes.
The Lions hope to sponsor local children to Camp Hertko Hollow in Des Moines, Woessner said, noting the group is aware of one Solon family working to deal with youth-onset Type 1 diabetes.
That’s something Kleppe can relate to, as he’s dealt with diabetes since his own diagnosis as a youth.
“I developed it when I was 10 years old, and that’s a hell of an age to get it,” Kleppe said.
Camp Hertko Hollow provides traditional camp activities while learning about living with the disease, with other youth and counselors who have the same experience, he said.
“It’s a great networking tool for children,” Kleppe, who attended the camp, said. “You’re around other kids your age that have the same situations. I knew I wasn’t alone.”
The charter party also had personal meaning for Woessner, whose parents drove from Mount Carroll, Ill., to attend.
Brian and Cynthia Woessner, and their friends Dave and Jan Smith, have been Lions Club members for over three decades, and they transported agricultural-themed carnival games to the party for all to enjoy.
“I knew they’d do a great job. I didn’t even know what they were going to do,” Woessner said. “They just showed up and participated wholeheartedly, and helped to raise funds that night and get the camaraderie going, and I think had a good time doing that.”
Woessner said he was raised in a town where the Lions Club had a commitment to serve.
“I grew up in a farm community and the Lions was the organization that if you needed to get something done, the Lions stepped up and got it done,” Woessner said.
The Solon Centennial Lions Club meets the first Monday of the month at 7 p.m. at Frida Kahlo Mexican Restaurant. Melissa Reed is the membership chairperson, but anyone interested in the club can also contact Kleppe or Woessner for more information. Email the club at soloncentenniallionsclub@gmail.com or search for Solon Centennial Lions Club on Facebook.