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Doylestown Lions Club celebrates 75 years of service

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On June 13, 1945, the Doylestown Lions Club became the third community service club organized in Doylestown.

The elected officers were formally installed at the Charter Presentation Meeting on June 26, 1945. The new Lions Club was led by Lion and Mayor Wilbur H. VanDine. The club was sponsored by the Souderton Lions Club and had 20 members at that time.

The Central Bucks Community Band initiated Concerts in the Park in June 1931 and in 1946, the Doylestown Lions Club began sponsoring these concerts; this summer event continues approaching 90 years of performances. Unfortunately, this year due to Covid 19 the concerts were suspended until next year.

In 1955, Doylestown Lions Club President John T. Welsh requested Mayor George C. Butler, an Army veteran of the Spanish-American War and World War I for one day in April to “Root for the Navy”. Although Capt. Butler, a retired Army infantry officer who was one of the few Spanish-American War veterans living in Bucks county at that time, had always been loyal to the Army, he was persuaded to switch to the Navy for a day. Dr. Manning B. Smith, chairman of the U.S. Navy Band, requested the mayor that since this was the Navy Band’s first concert appearance in Doylestown, that he would proclaim Wednesday, April 20, 1955 as “Navy Day.”

In 1957, the club purchased and donated a $100 eye testing machine to Doylestown Borough Elementary School. The Lions International constituted the eye testing machine must be owned by the borough public elementary school but every school child in Doylestown would have the privilege of undergoing eye tests.

In 1961 the club orchestrated its first Minstrel Show and by 1965 more than 2,000 people attended “Hills-A-Poppin, which raised over $2,000. These performances continued for six years thereafter.

In the 1970s, the Doylestown Lions Club membership grew, exceeding 150 active members. With this, the club accomplished many things which included participating in community fairs and events selling hot dogs and hamburgers and/or assisting with parking.

Throughout the years, the club sponsored fundraisers including pancake breakfasts, road and bicycle rallies, cow bingo and auto shows, and worked on other projects for the community.

The club’s largest accomplishment came when they, with fellow Lions from neighboring clubs, visited the Pennsylvania Lions Beacon Lodge in Mount Union. They completed several projects utilizing membership skills of carpentry, plumbing and masonry. In addition, the club built The Doylestown Wilderness Center at the Lodge which included walkways, swings, rock climbing, zip lines and helped with general park maintenance.

The club worked these projects for more than 20 years making this the largest task it ever undertook. To this day, the club continues to support the lodge, sending two campers every summer.

Moving forward, in 1985 the club presented The Heart of Bucks County Auto Show. Approximately 6,000 people attended the two-day event, which featured more than 300 antique cars. The club raised approximately $7,500 and that was earmarked for local charities as gifts from the Doylestown Lions. The principal benefactor was the Bucks County Association for the Blind.

To date, these shows continue being sponsored by the Solebury Lions Club.

In 1993, the club assisted with Camp Kirby located in Upper Black Eddy. Camp Kirby was a resident camp for deaf and hearing-impaired children. Over the years, club members helped with repairs and rebuilding until the camp closed in 2015.

When the Doylestown Heat formed in 2007, the Lions Club became a sponsor of the band. In 2009, the club had it first Basket Bingo Bonanza, which is now held once in the spring and in the fall.

To help it’s success, local businesses have been generous and supportive with donations, supplies, gift baskets and silent auction prizes. To date the event continues being the most active fundraiser within the club attracting an audience of more than 150 players.

In 2016, the club enrolled in the Adopt Highway program adopting a two-mile stretch of roadway in Bucks County. Cleanup occurs in the fall and then in the springtime around Arbor Day.

With the support of the club and other businesses, The Sensory Trail at Doylestown’s Central Park opened in 2016. The sensory trail consists of nine separate sections, called pods, each highlighting different sensory integration techniques, to help children of all needs (particularly on the autism spectrum) interact with the natural environment.

In the same year the club began doing Pediatric Vision Screening identifying underlying vision deficiencies in children under the age of 7. At that time Past District Governor Chip Nedza had transferred to the club with his own Welch Allyn SPOT Vision Screening machine. With his assistance the club created a program throughout numerous daycare facilities within the community to annually test children vision. To date the club has tested over 2,000 children identifying approximately 5% of them with a visual impairment.

In 2018, the club purchased its own machine and continues to schedule screenings.

For 75 years, The Doylestown Lions Club has become entrenched within the community. Every day the club shows it continued presence throughout the town with numerous eyeglass collection boxes prominently displayed on walkways and inside local businesses.

Along with always being there to help individuals, the club continues to support numerous charitable organizations including The Bucks County Association for the Blind, Delaware Valley Eye Bank, Habitat for Humanity, Leader Dog, Diabetes Awareness, Special Olympics & Quality of Life and White Cane. In addition, during the holiday season the club assists A Woman’s Place, a domestic violence community organization.

The Doylestown Lions Club is excited about celebrating 75 years of community service.

As with many clubs, active membership is key to its success and they continue to welcome new members to help further the mission of “We Serve.”


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