By Kate Shipman / Lions Club columnist Houston Community Newspapers
For Conroe Noon Lions, Wednesdays at noon are an opportunity to catch up with old friends, make new ones and learn more about our wonderful community and how we can serve it. At most meetings, our program will feature a community leader, charitable organization or other speaker who informs us about the needs and goings on in and around Conroe. Last week’s meeting was a bit different.
It started as usual, with the invocation, introduction of guests and the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States and Texas flags. Announcements told us about the new member service project set for next week at the Eyeglass Recycling Center. A Starbucks gift card was given as a door prize, and terrible jokes were told by all. But this week, the program was different. This week, Conroe Noon Lions Club was honored to present awards to our own members.
First, Past District Governor Pat Brennan kicked things off by reading a resolution by the board of directors endorsing Lion Scott Perry for his candidacy for Lions Camp Director for District 2-S2. Lions Camp serves children with physical disabilities, diabetes and Down’s syndrome, all of whom attend Lions Camp tuition-free. Lion Brennan recognized Perry’s unfailing support of Lions Camp and his service to our local club as chair and co-chair of numerous committees. Of course, the “ayes” carried the vote, and Conroe Noon Lions pledged to support Lion Perry in his desire to serve our community and our state by serving as district director for Lions Camp.
The awards continued with Master of Ceremonies PDG Glen Starr reintroducing PDG Brennan, who presented Bob Hataway with a Life Membership in Lions Club International. The club sponsored Lion Bob’s Life Membership in thanks for his years of dedicated and outstanding service to Conroe Noon Lions and to our community. Hataway has been a Lion since 1974 and has served on numerous committees and was a member of the Board of Directors for numerous terms over the years.
Next on the program, Lion Wes Carr, current Director at Texas Lions Camp, announced the next round of awards, Jack Weich Fellowships. Jack Weich Fellowships are named after (you guessed it) Jack Weich, who is considered to be the founding father of Texas Lions Camp. The Fellowships are chosen by a committee of Lions and pay tribute to a Lion’s longtime dedication, through service and financial support, of the Texas Lions Camp. This year, four Fellowships were awarded. Lions Pat and Tommie Brennan and the late PDG “Doc” Cates and his widow Lion Ladoris Cates received standing ovations when they came to collect the plaques honoring their fellowships.
Next, Starr returned to the microphone to announce the top honors, the Melvin Jones Fellowship. Named after the founder of Lions Club International, Melvin Jones Fellowships are the highest awards given in Conroe Noon Lions Club and in the Lions Club Foundation. The Lions Club International Foundation supports humanitarian projects that are too large or expensive for a single club to support. The Melvin Jones Fellowship recognizes members who demonstrate Lions’ values for many years. This year’s recipients have, for decades, demonstrated their dedication and compassion to the humanitarian endeavors of Lions Club International. This year, Conroe Noon Lions were honored to award three Melvin Jones Fellowships.
The first Melvin Jones Fellowship, presented by PDG Eddie Risha, was awarded to Bob Gunter in recognition of his service since 1998. Lion Gunter has five years of perfect attendance, has sponsored four new members, has served as chairman of six committees, been on the Board of Directors, named Lion of the Year in 2012, and was also a Lion Tamer. PDG James Stewart gave Gerald Laake his Melvin Jones Fellowship. Lion Laake joined Conroe Noon Lions in 1988, and once had 10 years of perfect attendance. He also has chaired five committees, been club treasurer and served on the Board of Directors. Gerald still counts his management of the “duck pond” as his single-greatest achievement as a Lion. Last, but not least, Past International Director Don Buckalew took the microphone and listed the accomplishments of the third and final Melvin Jones Fellowship recipient. Lion Greg Smith, the club’s longtime auctioneer, joined Conroe Noon Lions in 1995, was elected Rookie of the Year in 1998, received the Builder Membership Key for sponsoring 15 new members and has served as a past president.
Sitting in the audience, I was amazed and honored to hear of the dedication that all of these men and women had for the values that all Lions hold dear – service, compassion and a heart for the needs in our community. The personal accomplishments of these award recipients pales in comparison to what they have accomplished for the good of others. I, for one, am grateful to them and honored to be in their midst. A standing ovation finished the awards ceremony, of course – these Lions deserved it. And from me to them, I say, “Thank you,” and I’ll do it with a mighty ROAR!
The Conroe Noon Lions Club meets every Wednesday at noon at the Lone Star Convention Center. For more information, visit www.conroenoonlions.org or call the local club office at 936-760-1666.
Source: The Courier of Montgomery County