Pamela Mohr 0000-00-00 00:00:00
<b>It doesn’t take a crystal ball for members of the Hudson Nottingham West Lions Club in New Hampshire to figure out how to raise money. “We’re a small club, but we do what we can,” says Wanda Hancock. “We really work on it.” Located on the east banks of the Merrimack River, Hudson was incorporated in 1748 and has a population of slightly less than 25,000 people.</b> Hancock acknowledges that it’s tough competition out there for organizations engaging in fundraising to support their community service in an economic downturn. They see the necessity to put a little different spin on things to keep money coming into their club coffers. Her club sponsors a psychic fair twice a year to raise both money and the club’s community profile. It’s a challenge, Hancock acknowledges, but one Lions cheerfully accepted with a tongue-in-cheek nod to the supernatural. They charge $20 for one 15-minute reading during which fortunes are told and “auras” are read. Hancock says that it’s all in the spirit of fun and for the last 10 or 11 years has had a good turnout of between 100 to 120 people for those six hours. “For some reason, there are several holistic fairs in this area and we draw from that crowd,” she says. The same people tend to be repeat customers, including those who offer their services. Hancock makes sure to have flyers posted throughout the region advertising the fair and the club also receives a lot of free publicity from local newspapers. “We’re always after them,” she points out. Advertising costs are kept down, and profits maximized this way, although she says they do pay for some advertising. Lions make anywhere from $1,000 to $1,200 from each fair after splitting the $20 reading cost evenly with booth holders. The spring fair made slightly less, she said, attributing it to the economy’s downturn. “They all know it’s a fundraiser for the club to keep helping the community, and they take less than they would for their individual readings. They want to contribute, too,” Hancock says. The 28-member club sells hot dogs and light lunch fare, but provides free coffee and doughnut holes for those waiting to have their fortunes told. One of the most popular items sold is a bag of popcorn with white chocolate drizzled on it, created by a clever club member who volunteers on kitchen duty. “It’s deadly, but oh, so good,” she jokes. “The fair is quite popular around here,” Hancock maintains. “Its success really helps support our other community projects.” Vendors are also invited to sell goods like jewelry, handmade soaps and skin lotions. A reader’s husband also sells handcrafted wooden flutes. “They’re very beautiful,” she adds. He plays soothing flute music throughout the day, lending to a very relaxed atmosphere. Angie D’Anjou is the producer of a cable access television show called Awakening Moments with Angie D’Anjou. Well-known in the area, D’Anjou says she’s been open to all forms of communication most of her life. In addition to owning the Crystal Jade Metaphysical Shop, she’s a certified hypnotherapist and a justice of the peace for the state of New Hampshire. The businesswoman has a hectic schedule, offering classes, stress relief relaxation, workshops and private reading sessions, but says she was “delighted” when asked to participate again as one of 11 readers at the fair. “I don’t always find the time to be able to participate in a group of this type, but I’m honored to have the opportunity to offer support for this great organization,” she explains. “If I had more time, I would surely be a member of a Lions club.” Lions consider the fair a form of entertainment, but Hancock tells a tale of a long-ago visit to a county fair in the South where she grew up. “I went with a young man from my high school. He kept telling me to go into the tent to have my fortune told even though I was very skeptical. I finally did and she told me one thing that did come true. She predicted I would marry that young man—and I did. We’ve been married for 63 years.” Her husband, Lin, a 25-year member, has been a Lion one year longer than his wife. She has since tried only one other reading since that fateful visit. A tarot card reader read her cards at this year’s fair. Out of the six cards Hancock picked from a deck of 78, each one had to do with money and finances. Hancock, a retired bookkeeper, laughs. She’s club treasurer and as she points out, “I’m always involved with the money at the end of something or other. I had fun. Sometimes you just have to go with it.” <b>Music is a Money Maker</b> Being creative pays off for clubs that dare to be different. Kingston, New York, Lions are fortunate that so many music lovers reside in their community. Capitalizing on these talents also helps them raise money and put their artistic abilities to good use at the same time. Band director Thomas Keehn says putting together a band was a natural outcome for Lions who like to make music. The group started about 15 years ago, and Keehn, then a music director for the 10,000-student Kingston high school district, was approached by Lions to loan sheet music to band members. He got to know members of the club so well that he decided to join 12 years ago. Now re-Tired, the trombonist plays about 120 professional engagements a year in addition to his Lions band schedule. Membership in the band has been fluid as musical Lions come and go, Keehn says. There were more Lions involved when the band first started, but community volunteers have kept the music going. Dorris “Dorry” Dabney, 2009-10 club president, is currently the only other Lion besides Keehn in the 16-member swing band and was one of the original founders. Volunteers tend to be friends of Lions or simply supporters, including 85-year-old Jimmy Sweeney, a retired piano teacher. Keehn’s wife, Cecelia, who’s not a Lion, sings professionally and donates her talents as a vocalist. The pair met in music school and still enjoy making beautiful music together, he says. Some of the band’s musicians have had formal training and others just love to play. They all have to meet Keehn’s high performance Standards. “There’s usually one high school student who wants to play with the old guys,” Keehn jokes. Lions give a yearly $500 scholarship to the teenager as appreciation. The musicians are all very different. They’ve included high school students and former club president Dr. Lewis Neporent, now deceased, the retired chief of surgery at Kingston Hospital. Some, like Keehn, are retired professional or semi-professional musicians who now have time to give back to the community. Volunteering to play in the Kingston Lions Roarin’ Pride Swing Band not only helps them to indulge that musical inclination but also makes money for a good cause. Francis McKenzie and his partner, Donna Drargun, are longtime volunteer band members. “We get ‘two for one’ in this case,” Keehn points out. “He plays lead alto sax and is a great help in set-ups, knockdowns and even transportation. Donna is second alto sax.” McKenzie explains how he became part of the band. “Both Donna and I played saxophone in high school and got away from playing music for 20 years before beginning to play in another community band. We found the Lions band through our friend, Dorry Dabney. He played with our band, Exit 20, and sometimes asked us to fill in for members of the Lions band,” McKenzie recounts. “We were familiar with Lions’ community work and were proud to be asked to play with such a prestigious group. A few years ago we were asked to join the band permanently and we both said yes. Neither one of us is a professional musician. We find playing in the band to be rewarding and satisfying, even when we’re just playing for food. We both work full-time jobs and play saxophone every chance we get.” “Volunteering in the band is fun, but in the end, it’s all about making money for the club,” Keehn emphasizes. The band plays old standards made famous by artists such as Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington and Artie Shaw during the golden age of swing from 1935 to 1945. “‘In the Mood’ or ‘Strings of Pearls,’ both Glenn Miller hits, are probably the most popular of our repertoire,” the band leader reports. Keehn also has a paying job with a symphony several times per week. He laughs at how busy he’s become Since he “retired” from the school district. “It was like jumping out of the frying pan into the fire,” he teases. He started playing a trombone at age 8 and now at 69 has no intention of slacking off his busy professional and volunteer schedule. “We play at many charitable activities, and ask for a $300 donation,” Keehn says. “We play at nursing homes, towns, community parks, churches, and we’ve even entertained for the Rotary club. Some of the churches haven’t been able to meet our donation request, so I usually ask, ‘Well, can you feed us?’” he says with a laugh. “They do, and we’ve had some pretty good meals.” Lions bring in anywhere from $1,200 to $2,400 per year in contributions. The club’s biggest moneymaker is the annual expo it sponsors for businesses and service Providers at a local mall. Lions have made as much as $40,000 from the expo in the past. A big draw, naturally, is the band’s swing music, which remains a crowd pleaser even 75 years after its heyday. “People of all ages really like this music,” he points out. Keehn says the musicians aren’t particular where they play as long as they can entertain and make money for the Kingston Lions club. “We’ve even been hauled around in parades on a flatbed trailer attached to a pickup, pulled by one of our Lions who is a contractor,” he says. “We just want to keep playing.” <b>Partnerships Pay Off</b> It wasn’t a shootout at the OK Corral—just a little friendly competition between Lions and police in North Carolina to see who could earn more tips to donate to LCIF. And absolutely no guns were drawn in this fundraising showdown between five Lions clubs in District 31-G and members of the Garner Police Department. In a competition at the Golden Corral, managed by Roxboro Lion Alan Michel, Lions and police tried to outdo each other by providing the best service to diners. All tips went straight into a big jar designated for LCIF Haiti relief efforts. “It was amusing,” says Apex Lion Ken Bucher. “We were tripping all over each other with the help." Patrolling the tables and providing service kept both groups busy for the night. Lions also distributed flyers to diners explaining what Lions clubs do locally and globally. “We helped raise some needed funds for LCIF disaster relief in a country few had ever visited,” says Bucher. The Haiti fundraiser was the third time the restaurant chain and Michel have partnered with Lions to raise funds for LCIF. The first two times were after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and three years later, when Sichuan Province in Central China was struck by a devastating earthquake. Bucher says that Lions were concerned that the economy would put a damper on generosity this time around. They needn’t have worried. The tip jar yielded $1,200 in just four hours. Golden Corral also donated a percentage of food sales and employees and police donated, too. <b>Summoning the Creative Spirit</b> Partnerships with other community organizations or groups can definitely pay off. Police were able to donate their high energy to a good cause and Lions had help raising money for Haiti. By pursuing a different angle and involving another high profile and respected group of volunteers, North Carolina Lions received a lot of positive publicity in addition to collecting money. Bucher urges clubs to consider reaching out to partner with others. “If you’re going to be the center of the community as Lions clubs are supposed to be, create a relationship with churches, pastors and fire and police departments. Lions work is relationship-driven. You have to meet those individuals who know the needs of people we serve.” <b>Service with a Shakespearian Twist</b> Shakespeare isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Texas. The Bard of Avon, however, is indeed big in the biggest continental state in the union. The Texas Shakespeare Festival is beginning its 25th year and the 55 members of the Kilgore Lions Club have been helping out for a good number of those years. In fact, says Jeff Howell, who is also the city manager of Kilgore, “We have been participating in the Texas Shakespeare Festival for as long as current members can remember— and that’s a long time for some.” They serve as ushers at “at least one performance, wearing our vests so that patrons know they’re being escorted by Lions,” he explains. Based in Kilgore College’s Van Cliburn Auditorium (named after the world-famous artist classical pianist who was born and raised in Kilgore), the production company has produced 30 different plays by William Shakespeare. A native of Stratford-upon-Avon in England, the legendary 16th-century dramatist and poet left behind a legacy of 38 plays and 154 sonnets. The company also performs other works, including The Miracle Worker, detailing the strong bond of friendship between Helen Keller and her teacher, Anne Sullivan. Kilgore College provides the majority of funding, but the festival also receives grants and funding from other sources. Lions donate $1,000 annually to keep Shakespeare’s works alive for Texans. In return, director Raymond Caldwell presents an annual program for Lions complete with actors and actresses who attend a club meeting in costume. “They share with members their backgrounds and aspirations,” Howell says. By meeting the actors, Lions know who they’re helping. The personal interaction is valuable for the actors, too. They learn not only who their audience is, but also who supports their artistic endeavors. Caldwell says that most of the actors, professional and aspiring, are from out of state. This year, three were from other countries. “Many of the actors have never been to Texas before. They don’t know what to expect, but they have such a good time when we go visit the Lions, who make them feel so welcome. They fit right in and always come away smiling. The Lions have been so generous to us. Visiting artists are always very impressed when they meet them and learn what they do.” Howell believes that Lions, too, receive much in return from their support of the theater company. “This is a valuable community service our membership provides as this festival helps bring in tourism and provides ‘cultural enlightenment’ to our community,” he says. Backing the British bard also helps boost club recognition in the community. Twelve new Lions were recently inducted. Lions are enthusiastic about supporting the performances not only financially, but with their assistance and attendance. “I have attended several plays but really enjoy the one or two non-Shakespearean plays each year because they’re easier to understand,” Howell admits. “Shakespeare didn’t speak East Texan!”
Published by International Association of Lions Clubs . View All Articles.
This page can be found at http://digital.lionmagazine.org/article/Summoning+The+Creative+Spirit/498096/47007/article.html.