LIONS CLUBS MAKE A BIG IMPACT WITH SERVICE PROJECTS Preservation Prevails in Washington The Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve on Whidbey Island, Washington, comprises 17,500 acres of farms, historical structures, prairies, state parks, trails and shoreline. The island is also home to the 120 members of the Coupeville Lions, who are motivated to hang on to their hometown heritage by working alongside students and preservationists. Volunteers have repaired and spruced up an old water tower, built a porch onto the 150-year-old Ferry House and replaced a crumbling chimney. The old house had served as an inn, tavern, home and even a post office in its century-and-a-half existence. They’ve even rebuilt a porch that was torn off from the structure generations ago in order to restore its original exterior appearance. “Though identified as a unit of the National Park system—like Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon—it [the reserve] is the only one that depends upon local stewardship for protection of its historical and cultural resources,” says reserve manager Mark Preiss, a Coupeville Lion since 2007. “The preservation field school program was established in 2008 to help preserve the reserve’s nationally significant historic buildings for future generations to enjoy. “Many of these historic buildings are threatened. More than 30 percent have been lost over the last several years. The Coupeville Lions Club has stepped in to help the Trust Board and National Park Service preserve and stabilize these heritage buildings by providing essential preservation crew volunteer support.” Bob Johnson says that he and other Lions are committed to keeping Coupeville’s oldest buildings intact. “Two years before this, it was the Boyer Barn—that took two summers to finish— and before that, there were two historical blockhouses.” Blockhouses, similar to small forts with gun ports, were built by pioneers in the 1850s to “block” access to a destination by native tribes or marauders. Lions worked with Island County in the spring to replace rotting logs in the Crockett Blockhouse, one of four remaining on the reserve. “We do a lot of work, but we have a lot of fun,” Johnson explains. Since many of the club’s members are retired, “We have the time, but not the strong backs anymore. It’s a challenge,” he adds. Project chair Ron Boyer says the “field school” opportunities to preserve Coupeville’s history are big reasons that he and other Lions continue their work. “I love this program because I learn from the school. I’m a history buff, and this complements my interest in preserving history for future generations. From previous years, I now know how our ancestors split shakes,” he explains. “I look forward to learning about pointing and re-pointing brickwork this year.” In Washington, home to some very high-tech corporations such as Microsoft, Coupeville Lions are finding that some very low-tech, hands-on help is just what’s needed to preserve their community’s past. Float Building Bonds Lions and Leos Lions in El Cajon, California, have spent thousands of hours, used countless reams of gold and blue fringe and maybe even miles of floral sheeting in their decades of building floats for their community’s annual Mother Goose parade. Lions have participated every year since it began in 1946 as a small local event. More than 80,000 people now line the streets to view the annual parade, billed as the largest west of the Mississippi. “We’ve built 65 floats—some small and several that took the sweepstakes award,” says Lion Dick Rogers of the El Cajon Valley Host Lions Club. Luckily for Lions, they have some eager learners in the float building business. All 16 members of the El Cajon Valley High School Leo Club pitched in to not only help build the float but also to dance on the cleverly-named entry, “Mother Goose Goes Footloose,” that promoted the parade’s Celebration of Children theme. Lions build a new float to reflect each parade’s theme, but Rogers says they get maximum use from their efforts by recycling floats in other area parades throughout the year. In previous decades, he adds, Lions have built float foundations on “dune buggies, trailers, tractors and various trucks—whatever was available that year.” Leo Kerry Smith played drums on the float, built on a modified 1969 Dodge pickup truck. Smith says he’s learned more than simply how to help put together a winning parade float since becoming a Leo. “It shows us the importance of volunteering, and we’ve been taught about commitment. If you’re going to do something, then you should follow through without backing out. I know I’ve actually accomplished something that has made a difference in someone’s life,” he emphasizes. In addition to float building, the two clubs have worked on many different activities together as well as independently on projects. “The result of this perpetual Lions’ labor of love was the prestigious Governor’s Trophy presented to the best float entered,” Rogers points out. “Working together on a community project has proven to be an excellent way of integrating new Lions and Leos.” Planting Time for Lions Lions in Wheeling, West Virginia, are ready and willing to roll up their sleeves and get to work to beautify their community. That’s just what they did when Lions and the Leos they sponsor at the Wheeling Middle School planted 45 boxwood trees and replaced a dying dogwood at the school. The two clubs often work together on projects, recently clearing out debris from the Heritage Trail for hikers in Wheeling. Another collaborative effort involved filling and wrapping Santa surprise boxes for the Appalachian Outreach program for elderly residents. “The Wheeling Lions Club is a partner in education with Wheeling Middle School,” says Lion Linda Amos. “The students participate in the Peace Poster contest and Lions provide eye exams, glasses, hearing aids, to students there, as well as all the schools in the county.”
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