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Lions Club's 75th year

By Dianne Girmus
The Nebraska Signal

The Geneva Lions Club is always looking for ways to help others.  That is their goal.  The service club’s latest fund-raiser, held recently, was a soup supper with proceeds going toward supplies for the Quilts of Valor being made locally.
The club’s motto, “We Serve,” has been in effect, in Geneva,  since October 18, 1944, when the organization, of 24 members, was chartered and  celebrates its 75th anniversary this year.
Today, the club has 36 members with ages from the mid-20’s to mid-80’s. Current Geneva Lions Club President Spencer Hafer said the club works in several different areas.
 “We have a vision program,  work on community and betterment projects and support separate needs,” Hafer said,  “We meet the needs of anyone in need.”
Hafer noted the organization is a great one to belong to.
 “For the soup supper, I had a sign-up sheet requesting six volunteers and I got three times as many.  Everyone is extremely willing to help,” Hafer said.  “It’s a very active group that I’ve enjoyed ever since I became involved with it.  It is a place for people to give back.”
Geneva resident P.R. Farmer has been in the club 47 years, along with other family members.
Farmer said, “My dad, Paul, was one of the original group, so it was a continuation for me to join and now my son, Shaun, has been a member for 15 years.”
Farmer said that in the early years (1950’s), the club members met at different locations—two favorites were the Maryland Café and the Goldenrod Steak House.
The members decided it would be nice to have their own place to meet and since the scouting organization needed a home, they had the Geneva Lions Club building constructed in 1967.  It was built in conjunction with the City of Geneva and the city helps with the grounds’ maintenance.  In 1998, the building was extended to its present size.  The Geneva Lions Club members are very proud of their building, as it is one of very few Lions Clubs that own their meeting place.
The Geneva Lions Club building is furnished to the local scout troops, girls and boys, for their meetings and activities.  It is also rented through the city to other organizations and individuals as a community gathering place.
Farmer said he truly enjoys being a Lions Club member.
“It’s a world-wide organization and the club is committed to their focus on vision.  It’s a real active community club that does an immeasurable amount of work in the community,” Farmer said.  “The work of the Lions Club is what gives me the incentive to belong to it.”
 The vision program is a principal interest to the club at all times—aiding the blind and helping the needy to purchase glasses.  Hundreds of old glasses are given annually to Lions International.  The lenses are removed, placed in new frames and distributed to the needy.  The club also sponsors the International Lions Sight and Hearing Bus, which screens children in Fillmore County.
Hafer has led several projects.
“Through the Sight Bus, we’ve checked eyes at Fillmore Central (350-400 students) and Shickley (160 students) Schools. We’ve given a monetary gift for an ill child that was matched by the national board and donated eyeglasses and funds to Tennessee that will go to third-world countries and eye exams,” Hafer said.  “We will also be giving two scholarships at graduation time.”
To pay for the monetary donations that are made each year, Hafer said the club hosts two big fund-raisers—the annual soup supper and the hamburger feed they sponsor during Geneva’s 4th of July festivities.
The club usually runs solo, but enjoys working with the Sons of the American Legion, Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Club during Geneva’s summer celebration, Hafer added.
Some community projects done by the club, throughout the years, include the construction of park shelters, a concession stand for the high school, the Fillmore Central High School sign with lights, located by the highway, and benches that were placed in front of the Fillmore County Hospital.  The club also originated the Christmas drive for kids some years ago.
Hafer said the club is a big promoter for area scouts and gives assistance whenever they can.
“We gave a large sum of money for a retreat cabin at Camp Sloan of Geneva,” Hafer said.
Wayne Hinerman, a 19-year Hastings Lions Club member, who works in the IT Department at the Fillmore County Hospital, attended the supper to show his support.  He, also, works with the Geneva club periodically. He is the 1st Vice-District Governor for the neighboring district, west of Geneva, from Superior to Valentine, with 35 clubs in District 38-I.
The last four years Hinerman has been visiting all the clubs—informing them how to increase membership and telling members what the priorities are of the President of Lions Club International.
Hinerman spends a lot of time on the road, giving, endlessly, to his district and enjoys it all.
“I do all of this because I believe in service to others,” Hinerman said.
 Hafer said it’s easy to become a Lions Club member.
“Contact anyone in the organization and be brought in as a supper guest,” Hafer said.  “We meet from September through May.”
Farmer said it’s good to have the Geneva Lions Club in town.
“It’s a small-town service club, constantly getting new members, as they see it as a vehicle to work in for the community—to push the Lions Club goals,” Farmer said.
Lions Club International, a service membership organization with over 1.7 million world-wide members (as of June 2018) is the largest service organization in the world.  It was founded in Evansville, Indiana on October 24, 1916 by Dr. William Perry Woods and evolved under the guidance and supervision of its secretary, Melvin Jones.  The letters L I O N S stand for Liberty, Intelligence and Our Nation’s Safety.