The Lincolnton Lions Club usually has a Christmas party for their “VIPs” (visually impaired persons). They had to improvise and do a drive-through event this year. Throughout the year, members of the club take VIPs referred to them by the blind social workers in Lincoln County to get eyeglasses.
“Right now, we’ve got three people in the process of getting glasses,” Charles Stevens a Member of the Lincolnton Lions Club said. “We can request things like a cane for folks. We’ve helped to sponsor people to attend Camp Dogwood on Lake Norman and to attend another blind camp on the North Carolina coast.
In order to raise money, the local Lions club parks cars during the Lincoln County Apple Festival and sell brooms and gift cards to Auto Bell and the charity Belk tickets.
“Our biggest fundraiser is usually the apple festival,” Stevens said. “We serve around 40 people at the VIP party and maybe 20 to 30 for glasses each year. As far as campers, I think the biggest group we have ever had go was six. It all depends on what funds we have available.”
Long-time Lincolnton Lions Club member, Jimmie Bowers, was recently awarded the prestigious Ambassador Award by Lions International District Governor Larry Gasperson. Bowers retired from the Lincolnton club after 65 years of service. During his time in the club, Bowers was always busy helping with fundraisers, the club’s volunteer efforts in the Lincolnton community and in the past few years raising money to support the Christmas VIP Party for the visually impaired of Lincolnton, according to Stevens.
Bowers has held all major offices at the local level and a few at the state level. The Lincolnton Lions Club awarded him “Lion of the Year” three times. He has also been awarded the James Stickley Fellow at the state level and the Melvin Jones Fellow at the international level.
Bowers grew up in Morganton and attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he earned a degree in pharmacy. After graduation, he was drafted into the Army. Bowers was stationed in Germany on a medical train as their pharmacist and served two years in the army before returning home. After working as a pharmacist for over 50 years, Bowers retired from CVS.
Bowers married Charlene Scholl of Charlotte in 1951. They were happily married for over 60 years until her death. Together they had two daughters and Bowers is extremely proud of his five grandchildren and four great grandchildren. Bowers served as a Sunday school teacher, deacon and elder in his church. He has been a member of Jaycees, Chamber of Commerce and on the Board of Directors of Christian Ministries of Lincolnton.
The parent organization, Lions Clubs International, has a long history. First formed in 1917 by Chicago business leader Melvin Jones, who asked a simple and world-changing question – what if people made a commitment to improving their communities? It was in 1925 that Helen Keller addressed the Lions Clubs International Convention and challenged Lions to become "knights of the blind." Since then, they’ve worked tirelessly to aid the blind and visually impaired.