This story is part of our Fraternal Spotlight, a feature designed to highlight the fraternal organizations in the Osceola County community. Organizations are chosen at random for interviews, in which we strive to share their history, mission and outreach with you, the reader. Look for this series each month.

Evart Lions Club serves community through events, scholarships and fundraising

EVART — When a Chicago business leader asked a simple question almost 100 years ago, he sparked the passion for what now is the world’s largest service-based organization. Lions Clubs International was founded in 1917 when Melvin Jones wondered what would happen if people put their talents to work improving their communities. Years later, the Lions Club International has grown to 1.35 million members serving more than 46,000 communities worldwide. There are countless stories of Lions around the world motivated by the same idea — improving their communities. Locally, the Lions Club started in Evart on April 18, 1947 and now has 32 members. “That was a time when people were looking for fraternal organizations,” said Evart Lions Club president Therese Whitten. “There is power in numbers and the idea is serving and improving your community through a joint effort.” With decidedly focused efforts on a single cause to increase effectiveness, Lions Clubs International is known for its work to support and improve conditions for the vision-impaired. A majority of the club’s funds go to support seeing-eye-dog programs, children’s vision programs and provide the opportunity to get glasses for low-income individuals who would not be able to get them without help. “Vision is such a funny thing. You don’t know that you can’t see. You just assume you can,” Whitten said. “Sight really is so important and it’s great to be part of a group that has that awareness.” Along with supporting programs for the blind, the Evart Lions Club also works funds programs for the hearing impaired and also funds student scholarships. Recently, Reanna Avrill, an Evart High School student, was selected to be part of the American Lions Band, a collection of musicians from around the country who soon will tour in Germany. “We have supported this band for years and years, and now we’ll actually be supporting someone local,” Whitten said. “We’re very very proud of her.” Past president of the Evart Lions Club Deb Struble said the club not only offers support for students, but an opportunity to share the importance of giving back to the community. “It’s a very rewarding, family-oriented club,” Struble said. “We’ve had whole families volunteer together. It’s especially neat for our young people to learn how important volunteering is.” Along with supporting students and specific causes, the club hosts a food booth at the Osceola County 4H FFA Fair, hosts breakfast for the annual Fly-In at the Evart Municipal Airport, passes out mini canes and mints for blind awareness during White Cane Week and periodically holds candy or nut sales. The group meets twice each month on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month at the Evart Township Hall for dinner and a meeting. Whitten, who became president in June, was invited to join the club by her husband, Jim. She has since made many friends in the organization. “We all gravitate towards friends who are committed to similar causes or who are like-minded,” Whitten said.“We have so much fun and you get to meet all kinds of people.” Struble also first became involved with the club through a friendly invitation. “I had a hair salon in Evart for 19 years and some of my clients were members of the Lions Club. They asked me to come help,” Struble said. After a special friend of Struble’s, Vincie Yackell, who was heavily involved in the Lion’s Club, passed away, Struble decided to join the club full-time in her honor. Now, she has been a member of the club and in charge of the food booth at the Osceola 4-H FFA Fair for five years. “It’s kind of nice to do something and not get paid for it,” Struble said. “It’s a wonderful group of people.” Whitten agrees the members of the group, along with the club’s commitment to service, are what make the Evart Lions Club special. “It’s a phenominal group of people,” Whitten said. “You know you can call on any members for a project and they’ll be there.” To join the Evart Lions Club, individuals can visit the organization’s Facebook page at
www.facebook.com/EvartLionsClub and request an invitation.
EVART LIONS CLUB Established: 1947 Members: 32 Community support: offer student scholarships, provide food for annual Fly-In at the Evart Municipal Airport and Osceola 4-H FFA Fair, fund glasses for the blind, white cane projects and other projects as deemed appropriate. More information: www.facebook.com/EvartLionsClub