Founders Day honors history and grand marshals each year, but organizers added another group to the list this year.

Founders Day honors history and grand marshals each year, but organizers added another group to the list this year.

For the first time, Founders Day will honor a nonprofit group with the "community connection" award, with the New Albany Lions Club as the recipient.

Founders Day committee member Beckie Knore said the new award gives the event an opportunity to honor nonprofit groups in the area.

"We put out the news about (nominating) grand marshals, and it kind of evolved from that," she said. "We certainly came up with good grand marshals this year, and it occurred to us that this is a good chance to pull in groups."

Knore said the two Founders Day awards - grand marshal and the new community connection - are both great honors.

"We don't want to take anything away from the grand marshals. The community-connection award is a way of recognizing a community group and putting them out there to be recognized, especially with new people coming and going in the community," Knore said. "People don't know which groups to join or support."

Lions Club president John Napoli said the group was happy to receive the inaugural award.

"I think it's an honor," he said. "We've done a lot for the community, and we're a worldwide organization. This organization has been here for 30, 40, 50 years, and we're always forgotten."

The 30-member organization was charted in New Albany in 1945 and does several local, regional, national and international service projects each year.

"We do food drives, collect used eye glasses, and that might not sound like much, but those are taken to the optical school at OSU and the doctors take them to South America or Africa or to a remote location, and they examine peoples' eyes," member Diane Smith said. "An old pair of eye glasses we wouldn't be seen dead in can help someone see for, sometimes, the first time. That's something we're always doing. We have boxes out in the community, and we're trying to get more out."

Many of the Lions Club's projects are based on eyesight, including a program that pays for eye exams and eye glasses.

Smith said Helen Keller challenged the Lions Club in 1917 to help the blind.

The Lions Club also can be seen in other areas. During the Memorial golf tournament at Muirfield, the New Albany group will be one of many regional Lions Clubs helping with litter cleanup.

"It's litter control but our way of helping the community and the hospital," Smith said.

Knore said that as a Founders Day committee member, she can appreciate all of the work the Lions Club does.

"We know how hard it is to get events done, and ours is once a year," she said.

The Lions Club will make its presence known at the Founders Day celebration with a booth and a spot in the parade.

The New Albany Lions Club meets at 7 p.m. on the second and fourth Monday of each month at a facility on the corner of state Route 605 and Central College Road.

Membership is by invitation. For more information, call Helen at (614) 855-3765 or Diane at (614) 775-0052.