The Saddle River Valley Lions Club this week distributed its 2017 charitable grants to more than seventy community organizations dedicated to helping those in need. More than $90,900 was given away, bringing the lifetime grand total amount of charitable donations made by the local Lions to just under two and half million dollars.
The occasion for the financial giveaway was Saddle River Valley Lions’ recent ‘Annual Night of Giving.’ Themed a ‘Celebration of Fifty Nine Years of Giving and Serving,’ the checks presented to representatives of local charitable and civic organizations at the event were the culmination of the club’s fundraising efforts for the prior twelve months.
Welcoming the more than seventy members and guests present for the occasion, S.R.V. Lions President Vic Heinemann said “these organizations are groups of individuals who are providing the direct services needed by people in our local communities. They are helping to make it possible for individuals who suffer illness or physical impairment to achieve a quality of life that might be otherwise unattainable.” He went on to “thank all those who enable Lions to make these donations by giving their financial support to our three major fundraisers,” activities which include the Lions’ annual car raffle, its Spring carnival, and the Herb Bodensiek Golf Classic which is held each September.
Representatives from more than two dozen charitable, civic, and educational groups in attendance were warmly praised for their efforts on behalf of their fellow citizens. James Murphy, III, its immediate past president as well as a legacy member of the club, reaffirmed the “Lions’ continuing commitment to do all we can to support the good work of those who provide direct services to those in need.”
One by one, each of the chairpersons of five of the club’s standing committees, Sight, Human Services, Youth, Education, and Civic, made presentations to representatives from each of the recipient organizations.
In introducing one of these individuals, Jayson Daniels of the Vision Loss Alliance of New Jersey (VLANJ), Lions Sight Committee Chairman Andrew Calcara said that “the ‘Night of Giving’ gives our membership the opportunity to meet representatives from the organizations we assist. It helps to learn about and better understand the nature of the work they do utilizing our contributions.” Daniels, in turn, responded by expressing VLANJ’s appreciation, “gratefully acknowledging [that] the support provided by the Saddle River Valley Lions has been a consistent and very generous part of our funding for years. The contributions received from the Lions enable us to offer services such as our ‘Better Health and Wellness’ program which provides occupational therapy as well as orientation and mobility instruction.”
Lion Christopher Reichert, chairman of the Lions’ Human Services Committee, seemed to sum up the feelings of his fellow club members stating that “it really is inspiring to hear about the important work of the organizations that we support. It makes our efforts as Lions so much more meaningful.”
One highlight of the evening’s program was the honoring of three local students for their leadership in the cause of service to others. Designated as ‘Leos of the Year’ by their respective faculty advisors were Christine Kang, a senior at Northern Highlands Regional High School, and eighth graders Alexandra Betsey from the Cavallini Middle School in Upper Saddle River and Shoda Taylor from Allendale’s Brookside School.
The Saddle River Valley is home to four Leo Clubs, the school-based student service organizations which are chartered by Lions International. In presenting the awards, Gene Baskayan, chairman of the Lions’ Leo Committee, noted that “these three young people epitomize the meaning of services to others as they help to inculcate the values of Lionism in their fellow students.” David Verducci, the Lions incoming president and himself a past chairman of the Leo Committee enthusiastically agreed, adding that “through the many service projects undertaken by their clubs, these Leos not only help to improve their communities but they also serve as role models for their peers.”
Presentations concluded, club president Heineman thanked all of his fellow Lions for their hard work during the past year and encouraged everyone present to support Lions’ fundraising efforts, adding “that’s what makes this all possible.”
Heineman closed the evening’s program by speaking about the mission of Lions, explaining that “Lions International was founded in 1917 and is the world’s largest service club organization with over 1.3 million members. Although we’re best known for fighting blindness, our club also performs volunteer work for many different kinds of community projects, including caring for the environment, feeding the hungry, and aiding seniors and the disabled.” He went on to remind those present that “one hundred percent of the net proceeds we raise go directly to the charities and organizations that that the Club supports. None of the funds raised are used to meet administrative expenses as these costs are borne directly by our members themselves.”
For more information about the any aspect of the Saddle River Valley Lions Club, including membership opportunities, visit www.SRVLions.org or the club’s Facebook page. To learn more about the Leo Program, go to the Youth Programs section of the Lions Web site at www.lionsclubs.org.