The Saddle River Valley Lions Club recently celebrated its Diamond Jubilee by taking a look back at its long history and continuing to energetically plan the activities that will shape its future.
The Lions’ current president, Dr. David Verducci, explained that “our story began six decades ago when twenty five local businessmen and community leaders applied to Lions International for the right to start a Lions Club open to the residents of the northern-most part of Bergen County. Sponsored by the Waldwick Lions, the Saddle River Valley Lions Club received its official charter on December 3, 1958. The new Lions immediately set to work, its goal being to fulfill the promise of the Lions’ motto: We Serve.’”
Despite membership being open to men only during its early years, the local Club grew and very quickly became a mainstay in the communities it serves. Today, the opportunity to become a Lion is open to people from all walks of life, irrespective of gender, religion, ethnicity, or other social demarcation. And while the club’s charter membership were drawn almost exclusively from Saddle River and Upper Saddle River, the membership area has expanded and now includes members from Mahwah, Ramsey, and Allendale.
Initially only focused on raising funds to support those charities that aid the blind and visually impaired, over its six decades the club’s mission has expanded dramatically. In addition to sight charities, the Lions currently help to provide financial assistance to human services organizations such as the well-known Center for Food Action and to civic causes including local volunteer emergency service groups.
Youth activities are also a major part of the Lions’ current focus. In addition to local school children participating in Lions International’s Peace Poster Contest each year, Saddle River Valley Lions also sponsor four Leo Clubs in area schools. Leo Clubs are community service organizations whose members are middle- and high school students ages 12 and older. The Lions also grant numerous scholarships and academic awards each year.
The Lions’ ability to raise funds sufficient to support their many charitable activities has grown dramatically over the years. Its early Apple & Potato Sale gave way to its annual car raffle, yearly carnival held at Lions Park, and Herb Bodensiek Golf Classic, all of which are now as much community activities as they are fundraisers.
Classified as a 501C(3) non-profit entity, the Saddle River Valley Lions Club has raised and distributed more than $2,350,000. Lions’ Charities Treasurer Paul Beck explained that one reason for the Lions’ successful fundraising is “people appreciate the fact that 100% of our net proceeds go directly to the charities that the Club supports. None of the funds raised or donations received is ever used to meet the club’s administrative expenses. Those costs are paid by the Lions’ themselves.”
For details about membership opportunities in the Saddle River Valley Lions Club, more information about its many activities, or to see a video-slideshow describing its six decade history, visit the club’s Facebook page or its website, www.SRVLions.org. .