The Chester Lions Club celebrates its 75th year of operation and service to this community. The club was originally organized on January 16, 1939 at Chester High School. The Chester Lions became part of the largest service organization in the world. The original Charter from the International Association of Lions Clubs was dated January 27, 1939 and signed by 15 prominent members of the community. The speaker at that original Charter Night was James Hubert Price, the 53rd governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia (January 15, 1938 – January 21, 1942). On March 19th, 2014, the guest speaker was Delegate Kirk Cox, Majority Leader, House of Delegates of Virginia. Delegate Cox has spoken to the Chester Lions Club every year since he began serving in the House (25 years). The Chester Lions always look forward to his first hand report on what is transpiring at the state legislature.
Chester Lions Club is first and foremost a service organization for the community. Even though the Lions are best known for their sight and hearing conservation programs (which are most visible through the collection of used eye glasses and hearing aids), there are other activities aimed at serving the needs of the community. The collected glasses and hearing aids are used in the organization’s global community.
On a local level, the Chester Lions contribute to and work with a variety of other related service organizations such as Leader Dog School, Old Dominion Eye Bank, Virginia Rehabilitation Center for the Blind Virginia Voice for the Print Handicapped. In addition to the eye exams and glasses that the club finances, especially to those less fortunate, the Chester Lions Club has performed or assisted in bringing other activities to the area including the Bland Memorial Music Scholarship and a local Antiques Road Show. The newest exciting tool, which the Chester Lions have joined other Lions clubs to purchase and use, is the Pedia-Vision machine for testing vision for anyone but, it is the “gold-standard” for testing pre-schoolers’ eyes, not just for vision problems, but for diseases of the eye as well.
Over the years, the Chester Lions have received numerous awards. Those awards include the International President’s Award, Melvin Jones Fellowship, New Club Sponsor, District Awards, Old Dominion Eye Bank, Leader Dog Sponsor, and LCIF Hearing Foundation.
The club has participated in numerous fund raising events over the past 75 years such as broom sales, fruitcake sales, golf tournaments, lens cleaning kits for eye glasses and calendar sales. The calendars were a popular item partly because they included so many of the birthdays and celebration times for the citizens of Chester. That required quite a lot of leg work and man (or woman) hours to assure that all of the information was current and accurate and to sell advertising to help offset the printing costs and finally, to sell the actual calendars. While fundraisers, tools and community needs do change over time, the commitment for service to the community remains steadfast. The longest running fundraiser is the semi-annual “White Cane Days” held each spring and fall.
The Lions need the support of the community to continue their valuable work. The Chester Lions Club has raised over $375,000 during the 75 years of service. All of the monies raised each year go directly to community needs without any administrative costs. Members’ dues pay for their meals, administration and meeting expenses. The Lions’ motto is “We Serve.”