LIONS CLUBS MAKE A BIG IMPACT WITH SERVICE PROJECTS Litter Patrol Lifts Community’s Spirit Nothing stops the West Warwick Lions Litter Patrol in Rhode Island—not even Hurricane Sandy when it came roaring through the East Coast with crushing ferocity. “West Warwick was affected but not as badly as the towns along the coast. We lost power for two days. The Lions Litter Patrol hit the streets three days after the hurricane, the following morning after Halloween. We picked up hurricane debris and lots of candy wrappers,” says Paul Isenberg. “Since last July, we’ve been picking up trash, pulling weeds, sweeping curbs and disposing of cigarette butts—lots of cigarette butts,” points out Isenberg, 2012-13 club president. The idea for the patrol came about the same month he took office. “I was walking through town and couldn’t believe how filthy it was. How could anyone be proud of where we live and what could outsiders possibly think when they drove through West Warwick?” he asked himself as he took in the litter-strewn sidewalks and streets. “Something moved me to go home, get four large trash bags and a pair of gloves, drive back to town and spend three hours filling up those bags. It felt so rewarding that the next day I suggested to Lions that we continue this work as an ongoing community service project,” he recalls. The 21 club members agreed, and the Lions Litter Patrol was created, just a year after the club itself was chartered. “We got permission from the town highway department and we invested in our own tools and supplies to make our work more productive. We got our shirts printed and even got a pickup truck for transporting us and our equipment,” he adds. Once or twice a week, Lions don their fluorescent greenish- yellow shirts identifying them as members of the West Warwick Lions Litter Patrol and push trash barrels up and down Main Street. And, points out Isenberg, they’ve recently extended their patrol beyond Main Street into other neighborhoods. “I truly feel that the town of West Warwick is now one of the cleanest in the state,” he says. “Local business owners have come out of their stores and thanked us for our efforts. Everyone’s heard of ‘Adopt-a-Spot,’ a program where businesses agree to maintain a small portion of public land. Our Lions Litter Patrol takes that concept one step further and we call it ‘Adopt-a-Town.’ West Warwick has a lot of problems, but looking unsightly and unwelcoming will never be one of them because of the efforts of Lions.” A Community Effort Lions in Union, West Virginia, number 29 in a town of approximately 700, and their contributions to the community are numerous and ongoing. They’ve transformed a shabby tennis court into a new basketball court for the community’s youths to enjoy. “Last year, our club built a picnic shelter at the same park complex, which includes the town swimming pool,” says Lion Ed Via. “Union is the county seat of Monroe county, population: 12,000. We are rather proud that the county contains no traffic light and that there is no fourlane highway anywhere in the county,” Via points out. “It does boast incredible natural beauty. We rather like our rural environment, and we have no coal. But there are limitations for our youth.” Since the only other basketball court was on school property and not readily available to the public, Lions voted to step in and provide another court at the park. The project also provided a “teachable moment,” he says. “Our project director Norb Netzel alerted us to the fact that the Boy Scouts of America were looking for projects for the scouts attending the National Jamboree in July,” says Via. “We submitted the information, and it was approved as a test project to determine the area’s readiness to host scout work projects.” Officials, expecting 50,000 Scouts, volunteers and staff to attend the Jamboree at its new permanent reserve in West Virginia, wanted to find manageable activities participants could handle. Each Scout attending the 10-day Jamboree spent a day working on a community project. “These projects are all over southern West Virginia,” says Via. “Our project and a couple of others elsewhere in the region were selected as models to test the logistics of having hundreds of Boy Scouts working in communities around the area.” Joining Lions were local officials and residents, representatives of the Boy Scouts of America, the Civilian Conservation Corps, who are helping scouting officials plan the Jamboree projects, and AmeriCorps volunteers. “The AmeriCorps volunteers played the role of Scouts—and did a lot of work,” Via says. Using borrowed bulldozers and backhoes, volunteers removed fencing on three sides, cut and cleared overhanging branches, weeds and vines, patched asphalt cracks and toted out debris that cluttered the courts. Donated goals and backboards will complete the park’s new basketball courts. “It’s a work in progress,” says Via. KEEP MEMBERSHIP STRONG Adding new members to keep your club strong is essential to remaining a viable community force for change. SHOW LIONS IN ACTION A club service or fundraising event provides an opportunity to take good action photos to send to local media or LION Magazine to illustrate your club’s community involvement.
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