MOUNT VERNON — Their motto is “We Serve!” and during the 40 years the Mount Vernon Lions Club has been in existence it has lived up to that motto.
The club celebrated its 40th anniversary Saturday evening with a dinner, an appearance and speech by district Governor Ron Keller and by honoring Joe Gutridge as the only surviving charter member of the Mount Vernon Lions Club.
“I was approached by a number of local service clubs about joining their organizations 40 years ago,” Gutridge said. “I had my own carpet business then and didn’t have a lot of time to socialize. I checked out all the clubs and decided the Lions Club was the one that did things to serve the community and didn’t waste a lot of time socializing.”
The Lions Club holds a special place in his heart and Gutridge is proud of what the club does and what it stands for.
“There are so many things that we’ve done,” he said. “We are known as the ‘Knights of the Blind’ and we also do hearing projects. We still collect used eyeglasses. We have boxes all over the city. We have them at the post office and out at Kroger and several other places. I think it was over 3,500 glasses we collected last year. Then those go down to underprivileged countries.
“We have a lot of different things we are involved in. We are a very small club now with only 20 members and it gets harder to get new and younger members. We’re all getting old.”
Diane Cook-Thibaut is the 2010-11 president of the Mount Vernon Lions Club. She talked to the News about what the club does and means to the community.
“We are very, very proud to be Lions and to serve here in Mount Vernon,” she said. “We are glad that we had the celebration tonight. We are glad the mayor [Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Mavis] was able to be here with us tonight. We enjoy serving our community any way we can.”
Mavis was on hand to deliver a proclamation honoring the Mount Vernon Lions Club. He said he was astounded to read all the club’s accomplishments while researching it for the proclamation.
“I just thought how much had been done, by so many, in so little time,” Mavis said.
Keller recounted many of his memories of working with the club and congratulating them on the fine work it has done over the years.
In summing up he said, “Think what it would have been like if, 40 years ago, you had not started this club. Think of the thousands and tens of thousands of people who would not have been helped by the things that you did do. Think of how the community would have suffered by your not being here to help.”