If there is a community service project on Orcas, it’s very likely to have a Lions Club member behind it.
The island’s club is kept going by a dedicated corps of men and women who give of their time all year long. On Dec. 11, around 40 Lions members and guests gathered for a traditional Thanksgiving meal at the Deer Harbor Inn Restaurant to celebrate their 2018 projects and honor each other.
“We enjoy working together more than anything,” said club President Steve Schaefer.
Lions Clubs International is an organization of 1.35 million people who perform community service in 208 countries around the globe. Its motto is: “We Serve.” Schaefer said that typically 30 percent of others clubs’ members are active while on Orcas that number is 80 percent.
Local Lions organize the following: vision and hearing assistance (187 students were given exams at the public school this year), mobility equipment loan at the senior center (256 people served in 2018); health screening van; blood drives; Fourth of July salmon barbecue; tax return assistance; dental van; Santa ship; Easter egg hunt in Moran; and holiday baskets for more than 100 homebound seniors.
The Orcas Lions Club also provides monetary assistance to Camp Orkila, Orcas Food Bank, The Giving Tree, Orcas Community Resource Center, Camp Horizon for disabled teens and adults and scholarships to graduating seniors, which totaled $17,500 this year.
Income this year included $18,000 from the rental of the tent, tables and chairs; $1,800 from donations on White Canes Day; and $4,000 from the July 4th salmon barbecue.
During the dinner, Schaefer handed out service pins to members and gave out first annual community service awards to islanders Velma Doty and Rita Harvey. Each received a check for $100. Doty donated hers to the community resource center and Harvey gave hers to the Orcas Island Historical Museum.
In addition, two longtime members — Grant Stone and Karen Hiller — were presented with the Melvin Jones Fellowship Award for outstanding work. It is named after the Lions Club International’s founder, and is the highest form of recognition within the organization. Hiller, who joined the club in 1999, is the first woman to receive the award on Orcas.