Touchstone Story #84–Special Interest Clubs
No matter what the circumstance, if there is a need, there is a Lions club to meet that need. A fast-growing alternative to the traditional Lions club model, special interest clubs are attracting new members with shared interests.
In contrast to standard clubs, which draw from a cross section of their communities, special interest clubs bring together Lions with common interests or similar circumstances. Some clubs focus on helping people with diabetes, for example. Others focus on professions, such as educators or law-enforcement workers.
There are clubs for veterans, environmentalists, snowmobile fans, professional women and people with shared ethnic backgrounds. There is a ballroom dancing club in Hawaii. And there are cyber clubs that meet and conduct club business primarily online, with members logging in from around the world.
Lions have been forming special interest clubs for decades. The Benton Bay Athletic Lions Club in Anchorage, Alaska, USA, was chartered in 1984 to support local college and youth sports. The growth of specialty clubs has accelerated in recent years as societal shifts put more demands on peoples’ limited free time. Special interest groups offer a flexible format that lets Lions accommodate today’s volunteers in a way that fits their ever-changing lifestyles.
Just as with any newly formed Lions club, special interest clubs need to be sponsored by an existing club and go through a charter process. Like Lions everywhere, the members get together to perform service projects and help others, but often the projects reflect the specialty club’s area of expertise.
The El Paso Executive Women’s Lions Club in Texas, USA, offers mentoring and computer-skills training to disadvantaged young women.
Similarly, in Middletown, Virginia, USA, a group of elementary teachers, concerned about children missing preschool education, formed the Middletown Children First Lions Club. The club works with 3- to 5-year-olds to help them prepare to be successful in kindergarten. The club’s Little Lions Preschool classes have made a big difference in children’s readiness. Parent Chrissie Sison said her daughter Annalise “enjoyed every minute” of her time at Little Lions and, thanks to the Lions, “Annalise just loves school,” she added.
Explore the dynamic history of Lions Clubs International with our exclusive Touchstone Stories series. Don’t forget to share these stories with new members so they gain an understanding of Lions history!