Ravenna Lions Club still serving after 60 years

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Since 1953, Ravenna Lions Club has offered people the opportunity to give something back to their communities. From involving members in projects as local as cleaning up an area park or as far-reaching as bringing sight to the world's blind, Lions clubs have always embraced those committed to building a brighter future for their community. On June 2, 1953, 22 residents of Ravenna came together to sign the charter that created the Ravenna Lions Club. This came about due to the efforts of the Kent Lions, which is the Ravenna group's sponsoring club.

Last year the Ravenna Lions Club provided eye exams and glasses to about 200 individuals in the community and it collected more than 2,000 pairs of eyeglasses to be cleaned and sorted by the Burtons and their volunteers. These were turned over to Dr. William Brinker who set up a team to go to South America to provide exams, glasses and surgeries to villages that have never seen a doctor before.

Over the past 60 years the Ravenna Lions has held many community projects and events, including the annual Roy A. Smith Junior Citizenship Award Banquet. Working with the Ravenna School District principals and fifth-grade teachers, the group selects one girl and one boy who exemplifies good citizenship qualities. They are then honored at this banquet. This year's banquet -- the 47th -- will be held on May 20. For many long-time residents of Ravenna, the name of Roy Smith holds many fond and humorous, memories. An educator in Ravenna, Roy Smith was well known for his passion for the Lions, and was known to always have his pockets full of raffle tickets for various events in the area. If Roy approached you, you knew that before he left you would have purchased a ticket and Roy would have left with your money.

Over the years, the Ravenna Lions have held Bingo Night at The Woodlands nursing home; worked the gates at the Portage County Charity Horse Show; provided eye exams and glasses; donated to Pilot Dogs and Leader Dogs for the Blind to enable blind people to get a guide dog; demonstrated the use of a guide dog to interested groups both children and adults; donated to diabetes research. The group also has participated in most of the Ravenna Balloon A-Fair festivals, the Italian Festival, Summer Fest, sold stuffed lions to help child abuse programs and many more local events. We've been a regular sight at almost every event in the area. New projects added in 2012 were teddy bear give-a-ways to the Children's Ward at Robinson Memorial Hospital, Relay for Life and Breakfast with Santa. Some future events include the Portage County Charity Horse Show and Steak and Dinner Dance.

 Today, with more than 1.3 million members and 46,000 clubs in more than 205 countries and geographical areas, the Lions Club is the largest service organization and has expanded its focus to help meet the ever-increasing needs of our global community.

You can be a part of the world's largest and most active service organization. You can be an important part of the Ravenna Lions, helping others in our community.

The Ravenna Lions Club meets the second and fourth Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. at the Ravenna Elks Club, 776 N. Freedom St. Membership is open to all Ravenna residents. For details, call 234-738-8170 or visit the group's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ravennalionsinternationalclub or the club's website at www.e-clubhouse.org/sites/ravennaoh/index.php

 Our programs are continually changing to meet new needs and greater demands, but our mission has never wavered: "We Serve."

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