Lions celebrate 50 years of service


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Who are the Eagle River Lions?

In the spring of 1962, two guys met for breakfast in Eagle River before going to work. It was the usual way to start the day, but the conversation was different. The night before, a local family had lost their home and all their possessions in it to a fire. The next day there was four guys talking about what they could do, and then there were 10 guys then 20 and then they decided it was time to start a Lions club. Their first project would be helping this family. On Nov. 15, 1962 Eagle River Lions Club was chartered. Their main goal was to make Eagle River a better place to live.

The first year they worked closely with the local Volunteer Fire Department. Then the next year they realized they needed to do something for the Youth of Eagle River. They decided the Youth needed a Park as there was not one at that time; little did they know the park would be as big as it is, or that as many youth would enjoy it. Just think during the baseball/softball season today more youth use the Park than lived in Eagle River when it was being planned.

First, Eagle River Lions Park was just a volley ball net and one Baseball field. Through the last fifty years they have added several more baseball fields, softball fields, a basketball court, tennis courts, Pop Warner football field, regulation horse shoe pits, three picnic pavilions and a large playground for younger children.

There used to be a small quonset hut that did not cost much to maintain and it was used for various meetings and functions. Then the Lions were approached to see what they could do in furnishing a place that 300 Special Olympic youth could sit down to be feed, since there was no place in Eagle River that was big enough to host this venue. The State of Alaska said they would help- out with a grant. Little did the Eagle River Lions realize when it was all over they were left with utility bills and up keep that they would not have income to cover this expense along with park upkeep would amount to over $100,000.00 each year.

The Eagle River Lions Park is not owned by any government agency, but leased and operated by the Eagle River Lion Club; so there is no tax dollars assessed to anyone. Nor does the Lions charge for use of the Park or fields.

Throughout the Eagle River Lions 50 years of service to make Eagle River a better place to live they have helped 1000’s of people in Eagle River in many different ways. Such as donations to fire victims, medical assistance, eye surgery, dental assistance, scholarships, senior citizen assistance, youth sports, Boy scout programs & troops, Chugiak High School, Eagle River High School, all of the Elementary schools in the area, helped buy a police dog, do eye screenings, bought many, many pairs of eye glasses for those in need, assist with the Easter Egg Hunt, donated countless Christmas and Thanksgiving Food Baskets, community Christmas and Thanksgiving Community dinners, etc., all paid from funds the Lions raise threw various fund raising.

One year they took on the Bone Marrow Donor Program and put the State of Alaska on the very top of the list with more Donors signed up per capita than any other state.

The biggest one day project the Lions do is the July 3rd. Extravaganza. You see 20,000 to 30,000 people come to the Eagle River Lions Park to enjoy fun, food, games, face and hair painting, entertainment and the fireworks.

It sounds impossible for the Lions to do; but they have 66 members that all pitch in at different ties to so their part.

The understood part in Lions all over the world is - Family First, Your Job, and then Lions. No one gets paid. The payment you get as a LION is making our community a better place to live and the good feeling you get when you help someone in need.

Eagle River Lions meet the first and third Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. at Eagle River Lions Park. For Membership information call Steve Grohol, Membership Chairman and 317-3780.

Tax Deductible Donations to the Lions Park can be made to The Eagle River Lions Foundation, P.O. Box 771046, Eagle River AK. 99577-1046

Please join Eagle River Lions for their 50th celebration November 3, 2012 at 6 p.m. at the clubhouse.

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