CLARKESVILLE – The Clarkesville Lions Club includes something unique – three generations of one family who are members.
Beverly Shirley is approaching her 30th year as a Lions Club member
Shirley’s daughter Jill Fry has been involved in the Lions Club since she was 9 but became a member more recently.
Fry’s daughter Whitney Keller has been a Lion for three years.
“The Clarkesville Lions buy glasses for people in the community,” Shirley said. “Sometimes we buy as many as 10 a month, and we also sponsor the [Mountain Laurel] Beauty Pageant. This year, we had a cornhole tournament and they mentioned they would like for us to sponsor a statewide tourney, so that would be in the fall if we do that.”
The mission statement of the Clarkesville Lions Club is to create and foster a spirit of understanding among all people for humanitarian needs by providing voluntary service through community involvement and international cooperation.
“It’s a good thing to be a part of, and it’s good to know that it’s so important to our family that we all just continue to do it and continue to be such a big part of something and, as a family, we’re making a big difference all around the world,” Keller said.
In addition to the Mountain Laurel Beauty Pageant and organizing the annual Mountain Laurel Festival Parade, both fundraisers for the club, Lions also collect donations to help with more expensive projects than the club can undertake alone.
“We’ll also be doing White Cane in April,” Shirley said. “This is where we take up money. Every penny goes to the Georgia Lions Lighthouse and it pays for surgeries that clubs can’t afford to do. We send them to the Lighthouse for surgeries and hearing aids and glasses that are really expensive that a club can’t afford to give.”
Fry said there really was not a question of whether she would be involved in Lions.
“Mom married my stepfather, and he was a Lion,” Fry said. “She was in the Lions with him, and we traveled all over. We saw so many wonderful people. I met the most interesting people. I met a lot of blind people and got to understand just how they have to do things so differently. I love to see that they’re helping so many people get glasses and surgeries over the years. I just love the fact that it’s helping so many people all over the world.”
Serving northern Habersham County since 1934 in sight and hearing conservation, the Clarkesville Lions Club now serves all of Habersham and White counties, and purchases eyeglasses or pays for vision exams for needy students and the elderly, and presents a Chattahoochee Fair Scholarship Award.
Lions Club members collect used eyeglasses, cell phones and hearing aids.
State projects undertaken by the club include supporting the Georgia Lions Lighthouse, Children’s Eye Care Center at Emory, Camp for the Blind, Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic, Canine Companions, and Leader Dog.
Asked what has kept her actively involved in Lions for nearly three decades, Shirley does not hesitate to say, “the feeling that I am helping people all over the world. We send money to Lions Club International, and if there is a catastrophe anywhere in the world, Lions are there.’
Shirley said Lions Club has opened many doors for her and her family to be able to go places they never imagined.
“We also send money to Leader Dog, which is in Michigan,” Shirley said. “That is a very interesting place. I’ve been three times to that. We’ve been able to go and do things that we never thought we would be able to do. I’ve been to Montreal. I’ve been to Hawaii three times. I’ve been to Hong Kong and most of the big cities in the United States going as Lions members to the conventions. You just meet so many wonderful people. I don’t care where they are from, there is a fellowship there. They feel like we all belong to one unit.”
Keller said the Clarkesville Lions Club needs new members in order to sustain existing projects and grow with new ones.
“We need younger members,” Keller said. “We’ll take all members, but we definitely need some younger ones to keep it energized here and to keep us from vanishing really. We have two young members, so we need workers. We need people who like what they are doing and who have a servant heart and are willing to help.”
Shirley said Lions Club is an organization that touches lives, and blesses Lions members as much as the recipients.
“It’s just a way of giving back, a way of feeling that your life is worth something,” Shirley said. “To some people, you’re a miracle maker.”
The club meets the first Tuesday and third Monday of each month at North Georgia Technical College in Clarkesville.
To learn more about becoming a member of the club, visit the Clarkesville Lions Club Facebook page or call (706) 754-9417,