The Rigby Lions Club hit their 90 year-mark earlier last month and will recognize this most recent milestone with a celebration on June 2.
According to an article in The Rigby Star, the Rigby Lions Club was officially chartered on March 5, 1928 by Frederick C. Kanzler, a member of the Lion’s Club in Salt Lake City. This makes Rigby the second oldest Lions Club in Idaho, according to Jerry Mastel, the Rigby Lion’s treasurer.
When starting a new Lions Club, a few members from another club will come to a city and interact with its business people and community members, according to Mastel.
Mastel said the club that recruited the new one holds a charter night to make everything official. In addition, he said the recruiting club will also send one or two of its members to help the new club through their first year.
The Rigby Lions Club held their first official meeting March 28, 1928 with 21 charter members, according to an article from The Rigby Star. The first elected officers included the following: Watson S. Stipe, a baker, as president; Dr. W.R. West, a physician, as first vice-president; O. Arnold Snow, manager of Consolidated Wagon, as second vice-president; Ted Isenberg, manager of the Isenberg Drug, as secretary; Hawley C. Taylor as treasurer; Jack Stahl, manager of Block’s, as Lion Tamer.
The Rigby Lions Club was also a men’s organization until the mid-1980s. Gayle Hodges was the first woman to join a Lion’s Club in Idaho, according to Pat Scott, second vice-president and historian for the Rigby Lions.
Mastel said the sole purpose of any Lions Club is to serve their community.
“Wherever there is a need, there is a Lion,” he said. “And we serve better together. The more people, the more we get done.”
Joyce Saunders, district governor of District 39E, said she has been a member of the Idaho Lions Club for 23 years. She currently oversees 24 clubs in southeast Idaho.
Saunders said she enjoys being a part of an organization that is focused on serving others.
“When there is a need, a Lions Club steps in,” she said. “It can be anything in the community, within reason. It’s about the needs of their community … it’s amazing to see what each club does.”
The Rigby Lions Club has completed hundreds of service projects through 90 years of helping the community.
For example, the Lions Club members planted trees throughout Rigby; they purchased the first detection dog for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office; they hold regular drives to feed and clothe the homeless and needy; and they visit all five assisted living centers during the holidays.
“This club has been really strong in their community,” Saunders said. “… They are there for their community, and they have always been that way.”
The Rigby Lions Club has also sponsored a patriotism essay contest every year for more than 20 years. This essay contest is usually for elementary students first through sixth grade; however, this year the club decided to focus on one or two grades due to the large amount of submissions. They award first, second and third place from each grade.
The Rigby Lions Club also holds regular fundraising events throughout the year that help them support these different community service projects.
“One-hundred percent of what we raise, goes back into the community,” Mastel said.
For example, the Rigby Lions Club serves food at different community events, like the Jefferson County Fair and Rodeo and Relay for Life. They also hold their annual pancake breakfast during the Fourth of July.
The Rigby Lions Club also works closely with the Idaho Eastern Oregon Lions Sight and Hearing Foundation, according to Mastel. This foundation involves the thousands of Lions members throughout Idaho and Eastern Oregon to promote healthy eyesight and hearing, according to idaholions.org.
One of the services offered through this foundation is the Idaho Lions Eye Bank, a service that supplies corneal eye tissue for transplantation throughout the world. The eye bank helps at least 300 people a year that have been affected by blindness, according to idaholions.org.
Mastel said he recently had the chance to be a part of this process. Two months ago, he was able to personally help transport two corneas that were being used for transplantation.
“Two people can see now because they got a corneal transplant,” he said.
To further support this cause, the Rigby Lions Club has also offered free vision screenings to more than 13,000 children just within this last year throughout Bonneville, Madison and Jefferson County. Last year, they helped between 11,000 and 12,000 children.
Moving forward, Mastel said their club plans to focus on helping children with diabetes.
“We have taken that on this year as another area of importance,” he said.
Saunders said there is always a need for more service.
“We are always looking for more members that want to serve their community,” she said.
If interested in joining the Rigby Lions Club, people can contact a current Lions member, or find them via Facebook.