Where there’s a need in Franklin County, there’s usually a chapter of the Lions Club International ready to step up.
That is not the case, however, in German Village.
Stu Koble and Joe Jackson are looking to change that.
“We’re a little befuddled,” said Koble, immediate past president of one of two Grove City chapters. “There are Lions Clubs all around German Village. But, at least from our perspective, all the surrounding communities have needs.”
“We’ve thought about this for several years,” Jackson added.
The two men said they will spend the next two months trying to sign up 20 members – the basic threshold of any Lions Club chapter. Another immediate goal is to try to establish a regular meeting place.
The closest chapters are in downtown Columbus and the Near East Side. The proposed club would serve German Village and surrounding neighborhoods, they said.
“We have resources, manpower and ideas,” Koble said.
Lions Club International, founded in 1916 in Chicago, is a volunteer-run organization. Local dues are $80 – a one-time sign-up fee of $15 and $65 annually. Sign-up fees are waived for those who are veterans, Jackson said.
The club’s original mission was helping the vision-impaired but has dovetailed into many other areas, such as literacy, hunger and assisting those who have diabetes.
All 33 Franklin County chapters have an ongoing mission to collect Legos for children staying at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
The club also collects used eyeglasses that are refurbished and given to those in need and is actively involved with Pilot Dogs, a group that provides trained dogs to the legally blind.
The Lions organization, based in Oak Brook, Ill., has 1.4 million members worldwide, according to its website.
Jackson, immediate past governor of Ohio District 5, which includes 11 counties in central and western Ohio, said a German Village chapter has no particular mission in mind, only to help those who need it.
The nonprofit organization hopes to work with schools in the area in providing vision screenings for students in grades pre-K-12, Jackson said. Other than that, the members would rely on the community to voice its own needs, he said.
Linda Langhorst, a board member and volunteer of the South Side Community Ministries Food Pantry, located inside St. Paul United Church of Christ, 225 E. Gates St. in Merion Village, said she recognizes volunteer opportunities throughout the greater neighborhood, including with her own organization.
“There’s always a need, and matching up need with what people are willing to do is a great project,” Langhorst said.