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Commentary: Consider joining the Park Rapids Lions Club

The Park Rapids Lions Club, chartered in April 1954, is extending an invitation to area residents to join the club and become a member of the largest service organization in the world.

Currently, there are over 46,000 local clubs and more than 1.4 million members in over 200 countries and geographic areas around the world.

Here are some frequently asked questions about Lions Clubs International, generally, and the Park Rapids Lions Club, specifically.

Q: When was Lions Clubs International founded?

A: In 1917, Chicago area businessman Melvin Jones saw a need for a philanthropic organization devoted to improving their communities. On June 17, 1917, Lions Clubs International was born.

Q: What is the mission of Lions Clubs International?

A: To empower volunteers to serve their communities, meet humanitarian needs, encourage peace and promote international understanding through Lions clubs.

Q: How did vision and vision issues become the main focus of Lions Clubs International?

A: On June 30, 1925, at the Lions Clubs International convention in Cedar Point, Ohio, Helen Keller challenged Lions to "become knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness." Vision and vision-related issues have been the main focus ever since. Our vision programs include the Minnesota Lions Vision Foundation, Lions Eye Health Program, Leader Dogs for the Blind and the Minnesota Lions Diabetes Foundation.

Q: What is the Lions Clubs International Foundation?

A: This is philanthropic part of the international organization that gives grants to local clubs impacted by disaster. These grants help clubs begin the process of recovery by providing basic needs to their communities. Local examples are the Wadena tornado and the wildfire between Menahga and Park Rapids. On a global scale, funds were provided to Lions Clubs in Puerto Rico, other Caribbean islands as well and south Texas after the hurricanes and for communities devastated by the wildfires in the western U.S.

Q: How much does it cost join the Park Rapids Lions Club? What happens at the Park Rapids Lions Club meetings?

A: Annual dues are $60.00. Besides a brief business meeting, we usually have a program pertinent to the local community or a Lions-specific project. We have a catered meal that costs $13 per meeting. If you don't want to partake of the meal, you can opt out.

Q: When and where are the meetings?

A: Throughout the year, the club meets 18 times. During the months of May through October, our meetings are the second and fourth Tuesdays at 6 p.m. During the months of November through April, we meet once per month on the second Tuesday at 6 p.m. We hold our meetings in basement meeting room of Essentia-CHI St. Joseph Health.

Q: What does the Park Rapids Lions Club do in the community?

A: Besides the major projects of Lions Clubs International, Multiple District 5M and District 5M9, the Park Rapids Lions Club is involved locally with projects important to Park Rapids and the surrounding area. These include the vision assist reading machines (20-plus with local individuals), used eyeglass collection (15 sites in the community) and, recently, the KidSight vision screenings using technology (ages 6-months to 6 years). We are involved in several other local projects that are too numerous to mention in this space.

Q: Is there a cost to the people requesting or benefitting from one of our projects?

A: No. The only things necessary is an expressed need and a call to someone in our club.

Q: How do I join the Park Rapids Lions Club?

A: You can contact the club through email ( or Dick Kimball (218-255-0233) or Zelda Novak (218-732-9295).