Salisbury Lions Club celebrates 90 years

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 22, 2022

SALISBURY — The Salisbury Lions Club is marking 90 years of service this year, and the organization gathered for a celebration of the anniversary at the Harold B. Jarrett American Legion recently.

Their guest speaker was Past Lions International Director Gwen White from Columbia, N.C. Many Lions throughout the district were visitors for the special occasion.

The club was organized on Sept. 11, 1932, with 24 charter members. From the beginning the club has been active in the main project of Lions International, assisting the blind and visually impaired, known in Lions circles as “VIPs.” The club has provided hundreds of professional eye exams and glasses for the needy, as well as white cane walking sticks and hearing aids. Additionally, the club has collected thousands of pairs of used glasses for reconditioning and distribution throughout the world.

In 1947, the club initiated the Rowan Lions Christmas Party for the blind. Throughout the years the club has conducted many free glaucoma and diabetes screening clinics in addition to conducting screenings for visual acuity. In 2017, the club bought a SPOT Vision Scanner which has enabled them to conduct vision screenings for thousands of pre-school and school children in Rowan County. The club is also very active in sponsoring and assisting Rowan County VIPs to attend Camp Dogwood on Lake Norman, as well as the annual VIP fishing tournament at the Outer Banks.

The Salisbury Lions have provided many programs for the youth of Salisbury. In the early years the club provided milk for school children and held Easter egg hunts in the city park. The Lions were charter members of Rowan Little League. The club continues the practice, begun in 1948, of recognizing an outstanding male and female student from Salisbury High School. In addition, there is a scholarship fund at RCCC, awarding scholarships in memory of Lion Clyde Harriss, a founder of the college.

Over the years, the club has donated equipment to the Salisbury Fire Department, Rowan Memorial Hospital, Rowan County Mental Health, and Rowan Public Library. Each year, the Salisbury Lions host bingo at the VA Medical Center. Each year since 1943, the club has hosted a banquet to recognize the Lion of the Year and the Person of the Year in the Salisbury-Rowan community.

Salisbury Lions have always been active at the district and state level. They have produced nine district governors, two state presidents, one member of the international board, one president of the N.C. Eye Bank and one member who served a five-year term as secretary/treasurer of the State Council of Governors. The club is well known for selling brooms produced by Industries for the Blind in Greensboro, and their annual golf tournament in order to support their charitable efforts. For 90 years, members of the Salisbury Lions Club have given countless hours of their time and talent in living up to the motto of Lions International — “We Serve.”

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