Lions Club looks to roar once again in Dundalk
Wednesday, 27 February 2013 10:44

Membership has declined locally over the years

by Ben Boehl

    If you are looking to do some volunteer work and to help the community, the Dundalk Lions Club is looking for you. Actually, the Dundalk Lions Club is desperately looking for members.
    Harold Boccia is from the Lions Club International District 22-A, which covers all the Lions Clubs in central Maryland and is in charge of trying to rebuild the struggling club in Dundalk.
    “The Dundalk club began back in 1942 and it was a strong club with over 50 members,” Boccia noted. Times have changed, and the local club’s membership has dwindled to four people.
    “I think they were hit with quite a few deaths, their members became old in age and they didn’t do a lot of recruiting,” Boccia said about the Dundalk club.
    Now Boccia is trying to rebuild the local chapter of the volunteer club. He says he has reached out to Dundalk businesses trying to find members for the club. Some of those businesses have promised Boccia that they were going to invite their employees to join the club, he said.
    Boccia gave an example of how an amputee in the Dundalk area has lost one leg and could lose another leg. It would be a chance for the Lions Club to help out.
    “He is going to need a ramp to get into his home,” Boccia said. “If we find an individual, we look for something we can help with.”
    While many veterans groups and other organizations have trouble attracting new members, Boccia said that his Bel Air Lions Club has over 70 members.
    Another reason for a poor Dundalk turnout, he said, is that the Lions Club can not find younger members.
    Boccia points to Perry Hall, which has members in its club in their twenties  — and the average age is around 26 years old, although Boccia admitted that is pretty rare.
    “We usually get members across the spectrum. However; we don’t see too many newlyweds because they are busy with family,” Boccia added.
    According to its website, Lions Clubs International started back in 1917 when it was founded by Chicago business leader Melvin Jones.
    According to Boccia, the Lions got their fame because of Helen Keller. The historical figure developed a fever when she was only 18 months old that left her blind and deaf. 
    Keller later attended a Lions Clubs International Convention in 1925 where she challenged the Lions to become “knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness.”
    Boccia added since that statement, the Lions have focused on helping those with slight and hearing disabilities.            Boccia gave an example of how an elderly woman wanted to get a hearing aid, but the cost was between $3,000 and $7,000. Fortunately, the Lions Club was able to help out that lady.
    “We were able to get that down to $500. In order to get that accomplished, we had to raise funds to help her,” Boccia recalled.
    He said helping that lady was just an example of how satisfying being a Lion can be.
    “All of the service is all volunteer. No one gets paid in the Lions Club,” Boccia added. “All we get is a thank you and sometimes a hug.”
    Lions have also been known to collect eyeglasses and to support Lions peace poster contests in art classes at middle schools across the country.    
    Boccia said the best part about the Lions Club is that each one is different and they can set their own goals for their  community.
    For example, the club can set up a scholarship fund if they choose or donate to a charity.
    Even though there is no pay, Boccia added that helping others is the best feeling in the world.
    “It gives you a satisfaction to see someone succeed. It gives you a inner gratitude. We are here to serve the community.”
    The Dundalk Lions Club is scheduled to meet the second and fourth Monday of the month starting at 5:30 at the Poplar Inn on the intersection of Merritt Boulevard and Wise and Holabird avenues.