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Lions Look to Roar Again in Hamilton and Wenham

Once boasting a dynamic band of 45 members, the Lions Club of Hamilton-Wenham is rebuilding and calling on all those interested in doing good in the community to join.

The jury is out on which will happen first - DNA retrieved from the Arctic will bring back the woolly mammoth, or Lions will return to Hamilton and Wenham.

The current odds-on favorite is the latter, as Lions-of-old Harold Simpson and Butch Crosbie usher in energetic Lions Club Zone 2 chairwoman Stacie Whittier.

“It takes 20 members to charter a new club,” said Whittier, who is spearheading an effort to relaunch the Lions Club in Hamilton and Wenham. “But we’ll take as many as we can get.”

And what is the Lions Club? Whittier, a Georgetown resident and Secretary of the Salisbury Lions Club, is more than willing to enlighten.

“It’s the world’s best kept secret, but we have 1.3 million members worldwide.”

In short it is a group of citizens with a shared interest in providing help where it is needed. Chicago businessman Melvin Jones founded the organization in 1917 after putting it to colleagues that rather than limiting their interests to their own financial gains they would do well to extend their drive, intelligence and other assets to improving their communities.

"You can't get very far until you start doing something for somebody else,” Jones said, employing his personal code to clinch the philanthropic sale.

The Club’s purpose and motto: “We Serve” quickly took hold as Jones recruited businessmen of like mind. Eventually, in a bold statement of his commitment, Jones left his successful insurance business behind to devote himself entirely to running the Lions Club at its International headquarters in Chicago. 

Today the organization has 44,500 clubs in 191 countries. This year the 95th annual international convention will be held in Busan, South Korea.

Crosbie, an active member for 30 years, recollects serving as the president of Hamilton-Wenham’s club three or four times in addition to wearing the hats of treasurer and secretary.

“I’ve been to Lions Clubs in 30 states,” he said reminiscing. “I’ve also been to clubs in Mexico, Canada, England and Puerto Rico. What you find is you meet up with people who have the same interest.”

One of those people who shares Crosbie’s interest in the club’s purpose is his wife Debbie, who also served as President of the Hamilton-Wenham Lions.

“I wish them luck,” said Crosbie, speaking of Whittier’s plan to reignite Hamilton-Wenham’s club.

“I certainly do believe in (the Lions) cause," he said. “Their primary focus is eye research.”

Indeed, Helen Keller attended the 1925 Lions Club International convention in Cedar Point, Ohio and in a speech challenged the Lions to “become the knights of the blind.”

She asked, “Will you not help me hasten the day when there shall be no preventable blindness; no little deaf, blind child untaught; no blind man or woman unaided?”

“Yes, we will help” was the Lions’ resounding answer.

“Last year Massachusetts Lions raised I believe around $900,000 that will be distributed to hospitals and research groups in Boston mostly, one in Lowell,” said Whittier, ready with facts and figures that quickly turn apathy to dust.

Asked about her interest in serving as a Lion, Whittier offered a description of herself.

“I have tattoos, I listen to Jack Benny. I don’t know what kind of box you want to put me in."

Summing up what motivates her, Whittier answered; “I want to leave this place better than when I came here.”

Stacie Whittier invites those interested in joining the Hamilton-Wenham Lions Club or learning more to contact her by email at pinkdaisy9182@gmail.com

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