PARKERSBURG- The Parkersburg chapter of the Lions Club celebrated its 90th anniversary with a program Friday at the Blennerhassett Hotel.
As part of a dinner to mark the anniversary, Lions members talked about the local club's history and accomplishments over the years.
Larry Johnson, past international director for the Lions Club, said the Parkersburg Lions Club was organized Feb. 24, 1922. It was the third club formed in West Virginia- following clubs in Charleston and Wheeling- and has sponsored the creation of 13 other clubs around West Virginia and in Washington County, some of which remain active and others that have since ended.
Photo by Wayne Towner
Parkersburg Lions Club president Crystal Bennett welcomes members Friday evening to the 90th Anniversary Celebration of the creation of the Lions Club of Parkersburg. The event was held at the Blennerhassett Hotel.
The main objective of Lions Club International is to assist with sight-related problems and make sure people with vision difficulties get problems corrected if possible. The club goes into elementary schools and conducts eye examinations on students in first and fifth or sixth grades.
"We first began that in 1925 when Helen Keller challenged the Lions at Cedar Point in Ohio to become the 'knights of the blind,'" he said. "Since then, that's been the main emphasis of Lions Club and this club is no exception."
The local chapter has contributed to other charities. The club donates to the West Virginia Sight Foundation and to a group that trains lead dogs for the blind. Club members assist with providing holiday meals to underprivileged people.
In addition to assisting with sight issues, the club has helped someone obtain a motorized wheelchair, built two houses for Habitat for Humanity, put a new roof and windows on a Boy Scout cabin and participated in the Battle Against Cystic Fibrosis games.
Crystal Bennett is serving as president of the Parkersburg Lions Club, the first woman to hold that position in the local club's 90-year history. She became president last July and will serve through the end of June.
"It's been amazing, and overwhelming, but most of all it's been an honor," Bennett said of her term.
The Parkersburg Lions Club is active in the community, Bennett said, with several activities planned in April alone, from an Easter egg hunt to a tree-planting project to the club's long-running annual "Out of Sight" fundraising dinner.
Bennett said the Parkersburg club has been conducting a membership drive. The club meets each Thursday at noon at the Blennerhassett Hotel and visitors are welcome.
In addition to Friday evening's dinner, the West Virginia Lions District 29-L Conference is being held today at the Blennerhassett. Members will participate in several programs through the day, culminating in the district banquet tonight at the hotel.
District Governor Patty Nutter, of Harrisville, attended Friday's celebration dinner and planned to participate in today's programs. She was glad to help the Parkersburg Lions Club celebrate its 90th anniversary.
"It's an awesome milestone to be in existence for 90 years and still provide the wonderful services that Lions do," Nutter said of the Parkersburg club's anniversary. "They also are the sponsor of our club in Harrisville- from 1930- so they've done a lot of good and wonderful things not only in their own community but outside their community."