Big clubs thrive in small towns. A tidy cluster of homes and shops surrounded by vast fields of swaying grain, Clearfield is a typical Iowa farm town. But if you peek in the closets and drawers of residents, you’ll find a lot of yellow vests and shirts. In a town of just 362, the Clearfield Lions Club has 166 members. That’s 46 percent of the population. That’s the No. 1 town in North America in terms of concentration of Lions (see list on next page). Lions can be found here “everywhere you go,” says President Gaylan Bell, a retired farmer and cattle raiser. “They’re at church, school activities, the bank, businesses.” The club is quick to offer membership to newcomers. “We offer them that option. Some take it. Some don’t,” says Bell. The club meets in a large, modern clubhouse it rents out for weddings and reunions. “We’re a very active club. We support Leader Dogs, the schools, the library, you name it,” says Bell. The membership is a little deceiving since the club draws from throughout Ringgold and Taylor counties, population 11,500. But the Lions want to be Lions. They want to serve–and they want the free parking spot at the bustling Iowa State Fair. From 8 a.m. to midnight a phalanx of Clearfield Lions drive shuttle buses (actually John Deere tractors pulling trailers) that ferry fairgoers to and from the parking lot. The club receives a big fee from the fair, Lions park for free and the Clearfield Lions get members and the membership muscle to serve two counties and fairgoers statewide. Leaders of big clubs in small towns say an egalitarian, flexible approach keeps Lions from becoming ex-Lions. “We don’t enforce attendance. Everyone gets a say. Anyone can think of a project, run it by the club and try it out,” says Eric Kronenberg, president of the Clear Lake Lions in Minnesota (No. 10 on the list). One other thing: traditions are honored but change is not a dirty word. “Something else that makes our club great is that we never hear ‘we do it this way as we have for years and there is no need to change.’ We change,” adds Kronenberg.
Published by International Association of Lions Clubs . View All Articles.
This page can be found at http://digital.lionmagazine.org/article/10+Top+Lions+Towns/1342223/150315/article.html.