Fred Rist is the "Growler Editor" for the Aberdeen Lions Club, working on the club's website and newsletter.
Just a few weeks ago, Lions all over the U.S. received their monthly LION magazine. It contains the amazing story of Lions Clubs all over the world. As of June 30, 3,347,454 members in 46,318 clubs in 208 countries and geographic areas around the world make up Lions Clubs International. In total, Lions Clubs is the largest, most effective service club in the world.
In South Dakota, nearly 100 clubs exist, with membership in each club from a dozen to more than 100 members. South Dakota clubs also exist at our colleges, such as Northern State University, and also reach into the high schools.
Lions Clubs slowly began their formation in 1917 when a group of independent clubs responded to an idea from a young Chicago insurance agent, Melvin Jones. The idea was to form a service group to serve humanity without regard to politics, religion, race, or personal or business interests. On June 7, 1917, 25 clubs came together for a meeting and Lions International was born.
In 1921, Lions Clubs came to South Dakota with the formation of clubs in the three largest cities: Sioux Falls, Rapid City and Aberdeen.
At the 1925 Lions International convention, Helen Keller challenged Lions to be the Knights of the Blind. Since then, Lions have focused on supporting projects that improve conditions for those who are blind or visually impaired.
Our motto is "We Serve." Lions are part of a global service network, doing whatever is necessary to help our local communities. Locally, the Aberdeen Lions are involved in a number of efforts.
• First, we support the varied needs of the blind and visually impaired through work at the South Dakota School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, purchased eyewear for individuals who are financially limited and support other special sight-related projects.
• Second, we support the development of our youth through support to the Boys and Girls Club, high school activities and the NSU Lions Club.
• Third, we have been a support resource for diabetics and, in particular, Camp Gilbert for diabetic youth.
A significant portion of this work is accomplished with our statewide partners, South Dakota Lions Eye and Tissue Bank and the South Dakota Lions Foundation, and Lions Clubs International Foundation. The eye and tissue bank coordinates the donation of corneas, bone segments and other tissue for transplant and research across the state. The foundations, with partner clubs, perform a number service projects, from specialized sight projects to building Habitat for Humanity houses around the state.
Locally we are fortunate to have Randy Mages, an Aberdeen Lions member, who is an on-call recovery technician covering the immediate area for recovery services. The tissue recovered by Randy will be transported to the eye and tissue bank by Aberdeen Lions Club volunteers.
If you are interested in joining our work, please visit our website, www.aberdeenlionsclub.org.