The following description of the Hanover Lions Club was written as a college paper by Diane L. Bonin.
At the suggestion of my co-worker, Liz Roberto, I chose the Hanover Lions Club as the agency/organization for my interview. I really did not know anything about the Club so I felt it would be a good opportunity to learn more about the Lions. I interviewed Armando (Joe) Roberto who is a member of the Board of Directors and also a past president. Two years ago Joe was named a Melvin Jones Fellow, which is the highest honor for community service given by Lions International.
I asked Joe to begin by giving me a brief history of the Hanover Lions Club and Lions Club in general. In 1917 Melvin Jones founded Lions Clubs International. Jones' personal code was "You can't get very far until you start doing something for somebody else." The motto of the Lions Club is "we serve" and their number one premise is to serve the world. It is the world's largest and most active service club organization with approximately 1.3 million members. The Lions emblem is purple and gold with two Lions. They stand for a proud past and confident future. I also found out that LIONS stands for Liberty, Intelligence, Our Nation's Safety. The purple represents loyalty and integrity; the gold stands for sincerity, liberality, purity, and generosity. Lions Club International has headquarters in Illinois. All Clubs fall under the International organization and are separated into Districts. The main focus of their volunteer and charity work is for sight and hearing.
Membership is by invitation only and to become a member of the Hanover Lions Club you must be sponsored by a current member. You must also be a solid citizen who has a good reputation in the community, who cares about the community, and is willing to proactively contribute to it's improvement. By being a member, you not only help those in need, but also have the opportunity to develop friendships, gain leadership skills and have great fun. Joe said they are just beginning a new membership campaign hoping to gain eleven new members and increase the number of younger members.
Joe explained the organizational and administrative make-up of the Hanover Lions Club. The Club's organizational chart includes a President, Treasurer, Secretary and three Vice Presidents. There are also other positions such as a lion tamer and tail twister. All of them have very specific functions. The Board of Directors is made up of the officers and the past presidents. The Board determines the business of the Club, which includes the community services and capital projects they will be involved in. They meet once per month to discuss requests received for support and review the overall business of the Club. Individuals or organizations can make a request to the Club for financial support and the Board would review the request to determine if it follows the Lion's Club mission. The Club operates on a budget of approximately $35,000 per year. Joe was quick to point out that all funding comes from fund-raising efforts and 100% of the money raised from the public goes back into the community. It is totally private - no federal or state support. They do not even get any funding from the Lions International. All administrative costs are funded by membership dues, which is $35 per year, and by providing the manpower for parking operations for Dartmouth at all its home football games.
The members meet on the first and third Thursdays of each month except in July and August. It is a dinner meeting held at the Hanover Inn that also includes a guest speaker of a general interest. The speaker could be from one of the organizations they support or someone from the community to discuss relevant issues. The Hanover Lions Club does not have their own hall or meeting place. As Joe explained, there are so many costs, such as overhead, taxes, and utilities associated with having a building that they choose to put that money into other areas. Specifically back into the community. Joe finds it very satisfying to know that every dollar goes into the community. The major fund raiser for the Club since 1952 is the Auto and Outdoor Recreation Show.
The Hanover Lions Club supplies support to the community. It can be in the form of community projects, manpower, funding, and/or capital giving. The list is exhausting. They support twenty-five charitable funds and people warranting one-time support. The largest single beneficiary of Club funds is the Hanover High School Scholarship Program, which helps students from several towns in their freshman year at college. They sponsor both the Senior and Junior Babe Ruth baseball teams in Hanover and contribute to a number of other youth programs including the Boy and Girl Scouts, the "Kids & Cops" project, Twin State Soccer, Hanover High School Class Party, Youth-in-Action and summer camp support to Camp Allen, Camp Mayhew, and Arthritis Camp.
Joe has been particularly active in the little league baseball. When I asked him to name a moment/memory that makes it all worthwhile, it is his involvement with baseball and the resurgence of little league in Hanover that gives him the most satisfaction. Joe has been heading this cause since 1986. In 1987 and 1988 for its 50th Anniversary, the Hanover Lions financed, in partnership with the Town of Hanover, the construction of the Hanover Lions Club Ball Field at Sachem and the Costello Memorial Field in Etna. It contributed more than $12,000 to these two projects.
The Hanover Lions Club has line item budgets for Eyeglasses for the Needy, Hearing Aids for the Needy and an Audiology program at DHMC. Included among local organizations to which they contribute are the Hannah House, Headrest, the Upper Valley Haven and the Upper Valley Hostel. They also support "High Horses" Therapeutic Riding Program. The members volunteer to do the food service line at the annual Prouty Bike and Walk benefit for the Norris Cotton Cancer Center; a yearly barbecue for local senior citizens held at the Hanover Senior Center, and the distribution of food baskets, food gift certificates and poinsettia plants there and to needy and/or elderly individuals in Hanover, Etna and Lyme at Christmastime. They also maintain two used eyeglass collection receptacle boxes at local supermarkets, and send hundreds of pairs of glasses to a central Lions processing center which then get distributed to needy countries all over the world. Some other capital giving projects include the purchase of land, construction and donation of the Wilson Boat Landing to the Town of Hanover in 1997 and the building of Lions Club shelters at Storrs Pond. Joe indicated that the only frustration is time. It seems there is never enough and he feels that even though everyone gives 100% there is always more that could be done. It is obvious to me in talking with Joe that he is very compassionate and proud of the work that the Lions Club does in support of the community of Hanover and the Upper Valley. I think each community is truly fortunate if they have a local Lions Club to provide support. It is not only benefits the needy, but the entire community.
President: Annie Silverstein
Treasurer: Ann Bunnell
Secretary: Jane Altobelli