Jennifer Gilbert Gebhardt 2013-03-12 07:40:55
Make History Trace Your Club’s Roots and Learn for the Future When Lion Brian Fox of Pickerington, Ohio, opened up a footlocker that had been stored for years in a back room of a senior center, he wasn’t sure what he would find. The Lions knew that it contained memorabilia about their 67- year-old club, but it was so full that no one had attempted exploring it. Eventually, Fox could no longer resist his curiosity. He discovered that the container was “not only full of plaques and proclamations, but also a number of historically significant items such as old newsletters, minutes and reports. It truly was a historical goldmine.” Determined to document and preserve the club’s rich history, Fox embarked on an 18-month project that resulted in creating a beautiful club history book. Every Lions club has a unique history full of victories, humor and hard work. Chronicling that past will help current members build connections with their club’s pioneers, develop a deeper understanding of their role in the community and help navigate a course for the future. It may take some patience, organization and commitment, but piecing together club history will bring with it great—and sometimes unexpected— rewards. Get Organized Developing an organizational system is key to making the process enjoyable and manageable. Fox began his project by categorizing the materials in stacks and took careful notes as he reviewed documents. Admitting it was a lot of work, Fox explains, “It wasn’t overwhelming because, believe it or not, the minutes were really well-written and interesting.” The Lions in Salem, Illinois, have had the foresight to have a club historian. Frank Davidson keeps the club’s materials organized on an ongoing basis, which paid off in spades when preparing for their 75th anniversary celebration. Seek Help Don’t forget the collective history current members have, either in scrapbooks or in their memories. Once Fox knew what was missing, he went to club members to fill in the gaps. “They supplied me with lots of other historical information such as newsletters, photos and newspaper clippings,” he says. Community partners may be great resources as well. The Salem Lions discovered that the local hospital they helped found had valuable historical materials on hand. The Finished Product Using tools available at www.ancestry.com, Fox created a hardbound book full of photos and narrative. The Pickerington Lions shared printed copies with the library and historical society and kept one for the club’s archives. The Salem Lions opted to print a brief history in their anniversary luncheon program, create a PowerPoint presentation and display historical items. “We discovered more memorabilia than we anticipated. We needed three tables to display all of it,” says Salem President Jeannell Charman. What can learning about club history mean for today’s Lions? For the Pickerington Lions, Fox says he feels a stronger bond with his club now that he knows the struggles and triumphs of his predecessors. There are also some practical uses, such as including a “This Month in History” article in their newsletter. And unexpected “aha” moments have emerged: “One of the great things I learned was that within the first few months of the club’s existence, the club president handed out blank slips of paper to the members and asked them to write down ideas for what the club should concentrate on. I think that all clubs should do this periodically to make sure that their service is still relevant to their communities.”
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