Timeless Bedford County History: Everett Lions Club Since 1939, A History of Service, Still Going Strong…

Everett Lions Club has been serving our community since it was originally chartered in 1939. Current members are driven by the same compassion and principles that have made Lions International the largest service organization in the world.

Its origins date back to the summer of 1917, and began with an energetic insurance salesman, named Melvin Jones. Jones, at the time, was part of the Business Circle of Chicago, a group of professionals focused on helping members grow their business.

However, with the social and economic needs of the times, Jones was looking for ways to become more about service to the community.

After approaching fellow constituents and other delegates from similar organizations with this concept, they unanimously voted to merge and form a new, stronger club. These independent groups then became one single association, adopting the name LIONS (Liberty, Intelligence, Our Nations Safety) International.

In the 20’s, Lions recognized the need to help those with impaired sight, and soon began the journey to “Knights of the Blind.”

They began creating jobs for those with vision disabilities, organized eye exams for school students and published the first braille magazine for children.

“The main drive of Lions International, which we are a part of, is sight,” states Don Sylvester, the club’s Secretary.

In 1925, Helen Keller, both deaf and blind, attended a summit the club held to thank them for their accomplishments but also to implore them to do more.

“That’s when the club began branching out and treating not only sight all over the world, but here in our area. We support people that need assistance with eyeglasses, for example,” Sylvester added, regarding our local chapter.

Other projects the Everett Lions Club has participated in included baling paper and cardboard during World War II, believed to be used for paper drop tanks in support of the war effort.

“Moving a bit forward, they donated the money to build the bathhouses at the Everett Sportsman’s, I believe, back in the 60’s. That was our next major project…” Don continued. “At that time, it was the only place you could swim.”

“In the late 80’s, we bought a concession trailer… and then had to buy a truck to pull it,” Don chuckled, reminiscing his own, personal memories. He went on to share how successful this was as a fundraiser in the days of farm sales. Now the club runs a concession booth at the Bedford County Fair to raise monies for their projects.

The most current is one many will find of great importance. It’s the monument honoring Medal of Honor recipients, SGT. Ellis R. Weicht from World War II and SSGT. Robert W. Hartsock from the Vietnam War. The scaled replica pictured is to help promote awareness and raise funding for its implementation. When asked about its completion, Don simply smiles and says: “It’s going to happen.”

The Lions are always looking to add new members and continue the legacy of service to our area. For more information or if you’d like to support the club, log onto www.everettpalions.net or find more on the Everett Lions Facebook Page.

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