As use clubs shrink, Peoria Heights Lions Club still roars

May 22, 2017 - Finding Carter

PEORIA HEIGHTS — Earl Carter remembers Apr 30, 1954, as a day when a Peoria Heights Suburban Lions Club was formed. Now 83, Carter is a final remaining initial member. He’s seen copiousness of change in those 63 years.

“We had 56 members in a Heights when we started. At a same time, a Peoria section had 100 members,” he said. Carter knows how tough it is for use clubs in a area and around a republic to find members. “We’re perplexing to get younger people concerned — during slightest younger than me,” he pronounced with a laugh. 

But a Heights bar is saying a resurgence, carrying combined 12 members in a final year, bringing a groups’ membership to 41, pronounced Mary Schlink, a former boss of a bar and a member for 27 years.

Other groups haven’t been so fortunate. The Peoria Lions Club saw membership collapse to 10 members before a organisation was decommissioned in 2014, pronounced a Rev. Richard Hanson, visitation priest during St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Washington and a former member of a Peoria Lions club.

“I was boss when a bar folded,” pronounced Hanson, who assimilated a Peoria Heights organisation when a Suburban Lions stretched their membership domain to embody Peoria. Other Lions Club groups work in West Peoria, Dunlap, Washington, Princeville, Pekin and Galva.

The Peoria chapter, that began operations in 1920, was obliged for a Lions Club heading — a white shaft with a red tip to assistance a blind.

Carter pronounced a module that became famous via a universe started in Peoria. “When Elmer Thomason, a blind user of a newsstand  in Downtown Peoria, had difficulty channel a travel in 1930, George Bonham, a member of a Peoria Lions Club, suggested portrayal his friend’s shaft white with a red tip — to be manifest to motorists,” he said.

The nation’s initial white-cane bidding was upheld in Peoria and, nationally, a Lions Club started producing a white-painted canes for a blind, pronounced Carter, adding that a use bar has distributed canes to scarcely 200 countries.

The Lions were primarily challenged by Helen Keller in 1925 to assistance lead a quarrel opposite blindness, he said.

Keller’s address, finished during a Lions gathering that year in Cedar Point, Ohio, enclosed a lines: “Try to suppose how we would feel if we mislaid your steer tomorrow. Picture yourself stumbling and groping during noonday as in a night, your work, your autonomy gone! In that dim hour wouldn’t your heart cry out for a crony to learn we how to live in a dark?”

The Lions motionless to turn that friend, pronounced Carter, citing some of a many programs a organisation offers to assistance those with prophesy problems.

With 46,000 clubs and some-more than 1.4 million members, a Lions Club is currently a world’s largest use club, he said. It’s also a organisation that celebrates a 100th anniversary this year.

The group’s finished a lot of giving in those 100 years. “We gave divided a billionth dollar as an classification this year,” pronounced Hanson.

Whether it’s providing eyeglasses or anticipating a heal for stream blindness, charity conference aids or assisting quarrel diabetes, a Lions classification is involved, pronounced Hanson, adding that Bob Schlink, another longtime member and Mary’s husband, handles eyeglass placement for a Heights chapter.

But removing some-more people concerned stays a challenge, he said. “All use groups are struggling. With baby boomers, nobody’s got time. Another cause is that businesses no longer compensate employees to take time off. A lot of people can’t get divided from their desks anymore,” pronounced Hanson.

Regardless of how many members a Heights bar has had over a years, one of a longest-running projects is Peoria Heights Suburban Park. “It was a embankment in 1956,” pronounced Carter of a area on Glen Avenue where a park stands currently opposite from a Peoria Heights Library.

“There was no place for kids to play, so a Lions and a encampment of Peoria Heights worked together to fill a area in and make a park,” he said. A rite is designed during a park during 10 a.m. Jun 10, pronounced Carter.

Developing a park has been a village bid over a years. “Many people have helped with a park — not only Lions,” pronounced Schlink.

Carter speedy anyone meddlesome in fasten a organisation or seeking some-more information to attend a assembly of a Heights Lions hold during a Lariat Steakhouse, 2232 W. Glen Ave. The organisation meets during 6:30 p.m. on a second and fourth Thursday of each month.

Steve Tarter covers city and county supervision for a Journal Star. He can be reached during 686-3260 and Follow him during Twitter@SteveTarter and


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