Lincolnton Lions Club members celebrated 55 years of service at a banquet held Tuesday night.
â€œItâ€™s good to look back to where youâ€™ve come from, and then you can look forward to where youâ€™re going,â€ said Bob Spencer, a Lions Club member.
The event, which was held at First Presbyterian Church in Lincolnton, included dinner, singing (â€œIâ€™d rather belong to the Lions Club than any club I knowâ€) and speakers.
Jimmy Bowers, a long-time Lions Club member, gave a brief history of the organization, which was founded Dec. 14, 1950.
He discussed the Lionsâ€™ history of service â€” raising money for people in need whether they be blind, deaf, poor or afflicted with cancer.
During 55 years, many fund raisers were held. Some were beauty pageants (one had 450 women entered), others were fruit cake sales. The broom sales, which still take place today, date back decades.
Being a Lion, however, isnâ€™t all about raising money.
â€œThey also had fun,â€ said Bowers. â€œThey had fish fries and cook outs.â€
Many years ago, the Lions Club also put on annual Winter Balls, which were elegant occasions.
â€œIt was one of the most sought after invitations in this city,â€ Bowers said.
His recounting of the Lions Club past may have struck a chord with many of its long-time members.
Bill Earnhardt, who is a member of the Mooresville Lions Club, was even present at the Lincolnton Lions Club Charter Night Banquet held March 1, 1951.
Songs were sung, baked ham was served and visitors and guests were given â€œa most hearty and â€˜Roaringâ€™ welcome.â€ At least thatâ€™s what the original program said.
With 55 years between that night and Tuesday, Earnhardt couldnâ€™t remember details. What he does remember, however, is how dedicated Lions were to service. Itâ€™s something he believes has remained true.
â€œLions still do a lot of good,â€ he said.
Even so, several members expressed concern about depleting membership in the Lions Club.
At one time there were 15,000 Lions in the state of North Carolina. Now there are fewer than 1,000, said Earnhardt. He has a theory on why that is.
â€œUnfortunately, all civic organizations have been making a decline as far as members,â€ said Earnhardt. â€œIn my opinion, people today do not want to be committed to anything.â€
Mike Muholland, the clubâ€™s president, believes membership will grow with active recruiting.
â€œItâ€™s our responsibility as Lions to ask people to join so we will be here for 55 more years,â€ he said.
The nightâ€™s main speaker, Sid Scrugg, past international president for the Lions Club, agreed. He noted a lack of youth in the clubâ€™s membership.
â€œIâ€™m a Lion, and youâ€™re a Lion, and we take time to help those in need,â€ he said. â€œWe need to share that with the generation that has been missing.â€
by Sarah Grano