A short article in a recent edition of the North Coast Citizen made me feel sad. It was announcing that the local Manza-Whee-Lem Kiwanis Club was disbanding. I know that over the years, many members have come and gone in that organization, and many people, both local and elsewhere, have been the beneficiaries of the work they have done to improve lives. I hope those who have served in the club over the years realize how much their efforts have been appreciated. I am sure they all will continue to do what they can to help others.
More than 46 years ago, I began my life as a member of the Lions Club. I wasn’t sure what the mission was and why these men met every couple weeks and undertook various civic and humanitarian projects. The motto was easy to remember: ”WE SERVE”. Looking back I can see how some wonderful things have been accomplished and most important is that people’s lives have been improved, and even saved, by the efforts of this club of volunteers.
I know there are many individuals who belong to organizations who are dedicated to service in many ways and there has always been room for more to participate. Among the other service organizations were the Rotary Club, the Kiwanis Club and, of course, the Lions. There was a joke going around that said that the Rotary owned the city, and the Kiwanis ran the city, and the Lions did all the work! I do know that over the years, I have witnessed cooperation by all three of those clubs to make some wonderful things happen.
In the beginning, those service clubs were all men, and a few years ago that stipulation went away and women have become vital members of every club. The Lions have also sponsored Leos Clubs that allow high school members to serve their communities. Our local Neah-Kah-Nie club is one of the best in the world. Each year, they work to help the Lions with some projects and have many of their own to make life better for others.
For some reason, service club membership has declined over the years. I remember when just about every business owner and professional in our area were members. Maybe, it was a hold over from the war effort during WWII and Korea that made people aware of their communities and those who might need special care. I know we were always fiercely patriotic, and the idea that we could give some kid or older person eyesight or hearing that they needed to make their way in life was the stimulant. All of the Lions organizations in the state got together in 1959 and formed the Oregon Lions Sight and Hearing Foundation. They discovered that by banding together they could take on even larger projects and could even fund research that would lead to wonderful advancements in restoring or improving both sight and hearing. The Foundation was key to the establishment of an eye bank in Portland. Along with furnishing tissue for cornea transplants, the Lions Vision Gift has been a leader in research and now furnishes tissue where needed all over the world.
Since my time on this earth is running out and I will never live to see how it is all going to turn out, I can only offer my thanks to those I have worked with. The families of those who have served can share in the pride that I will always have in witnessing how even one person can make life better for others and the only thanks they want is the satisfaction gained for their efforts. Those members of all service organizations should be proud of their contributions over the years and I hope it continues in the future.
If you know any of those former members of the Kiwanis give them a pat on the back and a sincere thank you.