At Wednesday’s Lions Club meeting, District Governor Dollie Wooddell awarded longtime Lion Galen Cummins with the prestigious Melvin Jones Fellow Award. This award is only given to those who have either donated $1,000 to the Lions Club International Foundation or have had a donation made in their name by others. Cummins quickly clarified “it wasn’t me [who made the donation],” which means that his peers in the Lions Club had made that donation for him out of a desire to recognize him for his service.
Cummins accepted the award with shock and awe that he would be the recipient of such an honor. “The first time I saw one of these, it was hanging on Kirk Bartgis’ wall,” Cummins said. “I asked him, ‘how do you get one of these?’ And he said ‘serve,’.”
It fits the Lions’ motto perfectly: “We serve.” Cummins, a Lions Club member for twenty years, has fulfilled that motto to the extent that a committee in the local chapter of Lions Club saw it fit to award him with the MJF award—the first time in six years that Sapulpa has handed one out.
There were a few additional awards handed out at the meeting, to longtime members Ken Rentz, who celebrated 40 years in October 2019, and Max Cook, who celebrated 35 years in October 2019. Gloria Stewart was awarded a 10-year pin, and Lisa Prescott received a Golden Centennial award for recruiting a new member during the centennial celebration year.
A bit of Lions history
Dollie Wooddell shared a bit of Lions Club history during the lunch meeting, and pointed out three specific dates that were of importance during the club’s 103-year history:
October 1917 – The Lions Club has its first convention in Dallas, Texas. At this point, the group knew what they wanted to do (serve the less fortunate) but not what they wanted to call themselves. The name “Vortex Club” was considered, but dropped because of all the tornadoes in Texas and Oklahoma. They went with Lions, because of a smaller association that had chosen to merge with this one, with the headquarters being established in Chicago, Illinois. At the end of the Dallas convention, the new “International Association of Lions Clubs” had 800 members and $72 in the bank. Illinois would serve as the first “district,” as they had chosen to call them, with Texas being the second (as thanks for hosting the convention) and Oklahoma was the third because it had more attendees than any other state. It wasn’t until 1920 that the International Association of Lions Clubs finally lived up to its name, with the opening of several chapters in Ontario, Canada. Today, Gooddell says the chapters number in “the hundreds.”
Watch more about the founding of the Lions Club here:
1925 – The convention is held in Cedar Point, Ohio. Helen Keller addresses Lions at the International Convention in Cedar Point, Ohio, USA. She famously challenges Lions to become “knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness.” This begins a century-long mission—impacting hundreds of millions of lives through vision-related work that continues today.
1987 – Lions formally invite women to join the club. Gooddell says that the first year women were in attendance at the convention, but “for some reason,” after that, it became a men-only club. It wasn’t until seventy years later that women would be formally allowed and invited to join. Today, women make up over 30% of Lions Club members.
Learn more about the Lions Club and its core principles at lionsclubs.org.