Now that school days are winding down and families are settling in for summer days filled with activities, perhaps you might think to add service to your community to your already-busy schedule.

By Trish Morgan
For the News Tribune
Now that school days are winding down and families are settling in for summer days filled with activities, perhaps you might think to add service to your community to your already-busy schedule.
Like many families today, our lives are filled with dance recitals, sports, scouts, music, rehearsals and practices, concerts, carpooling, theatre, vacations, karate, lessons, school and homework...not to mention trying to squeeze in dinner at the table and quality family time.
That sure was, and still is, my life - even at my age! But, I happen to believe in the empowerment of volunteerism. A chance to serve, a chance to make a small difference, a chance to be a part of something bigger than yourself.
Bridgette Karalewitz is one such person. She has been a Lion since 2012 in the North Branch Lions Club - which serves Westernport, Piedmont, Luke and Bloomington areas.  
Currently serving as the Lions Zone Chair, Bridgette has stepped up to take the role as president of Lonaconing Lions Club on July 1 to help build their membership, and work together with the cluster of life-long Lions there.
Lions Club International is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, founded in 1917 by Melvin Jones - proud to be the largest service organization in the world, with over 1.4 million members in 210 countries. Every Lion serves 70 people in their respective communities all over the world.
When Lions Club International was established, club membership consisted of male businessmen, and it flourished for years until 1987 - when membership was opened to women, as well. I say that was progress!
Then in 2009, membership was extended to families...therefore, allowing for men and women to work together to support the clubs' mission: "Where there is a need, there is a Lion." When they help the community, they help those around the world.
Here's a great story that I imagine not many of you know: When there was horrendous and devastating flooding over the last two years in the Ellicott City area and southern West Virginia areas, the Lions Club leadership in those areas made a call to Lions Club International, and IMMEDIATELY $10,000 was sent out to each of those areas to assist with the emergency needs. How wonderful to know that communities do help other communities. This is the basis for all Lions - to serve where and when needed. Additionally, local Lions club members travelled to Glendening, West Virginia, last year to assist with clean-up and recovery efforts. Hands-on.
The Lonaconing Lions Club has been in existence for over 86 years, and its original charter was signed by Mr. Jones. This club, like all other Lions clubs, has been and is still devoted to five signature projects: VISION, HUNGER, ENVIRONMENT, DIABETES and PEDIATRIC CANCER. The clubs hold various events and fundraisers to support these causes - creating awareness in individual communities, as well as raising funds to support these targeted areas.
At present, there is a core group of seasoned Lions in the Lonaconing organization, but they are in dire need to build onto their success in the community by building a younger force of volunteers to enhance these projects. The club will be holding public membership drives, as well as members personally inviting people to join.
Lonaconing Lions Club serves Barton, Lonaconing and Midland areas, but members don't necessarily have to live in those towns. Those interested in joining need to have the desire to help the community as upstanding citizens...setting leadership examples of service to the club's area, for ages eighteen and up.
At present, there are members in the Lonaconing Lions Club who serve as officers: Interim secretary - Sandy Moore; interim treasurer - Sandy Parker; first vice president - Ebb Spiker; membership - Richard Grandstaff. These officers, along with soon-to-be-President Bridgette and about fifteen other club members hope to add to their club membership so that they can better serve their communities.
Lonaconing Lions Club meets the third Monday of each month at First United Methodist Church on Church Street, Lonaconing. The optional dinner before the meeting starts at 6:15 p.m., followed by the meeting at 7 p.m. Between June 1-10, members joining will have their entrance fee waived. For more information about how to join Lonaconing or any local Lions Club, call Bridgette at 304-209-9334. She will be happy to share what it means to be a Lion, as well as what is involved.
"I have met so many new friends through Lions Club, and being a Lion - having the opportunity to serve the communities where I live - that is very meaningful to me. Helping others, veterans, children, flood recovery efforts and participating in diabetes awareness activities...it fulfills my heart," says Bridgette.
On June 24, the Lonaconing Lions Club will hold one of its famous chicken barbeques, assisted by members of Potomac Valley Lions Club of Cresaptown. The barbeque will be set up near the convenience store outside of Midland, with chicken ready to go around 11 a.m. and until sold out.
Prices are really good, too, folks! $6 for 1/2 chicken and a roll, or $7 for 1/2 chicken, coleslaw, beans and a roll...and, 100 percent of all profits stay right in their service area! Personally, I am a great fan of chicken barbeques, and I try to support them all around the area. But, I can tell you that their chicken is absolutely delicious - with just the perfect barbeque taste and moist, tender chicken. Save the date! Rain or shine!
I am very familiar with the good of Lions Club International. My mom's dad - Arthur "Cowboy" Umstot of Westernport - was a past president of Tri-Towns Lions Club in Westernport. In fact, Granddaddy gave me his President's Plaque to hang in my home.
He served his community very well many years ago, and being a Lion meant everything to him. He was proud of his service, and he was generous with his service, as well. I remember his club's Christmas parties for all of the children, and how special we felt to get a present, a popcorn ball, a Lifesaver book and a candy cane for Christmas.
So, if you would like to be part of an organization that serves, and serves locally where needed, become a Lion. One hundred years is a great testament of service, and it could become your story, too.