Glenwood Lions Club marks 90 years of service to the community
Post Independent staff
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Members provide scholarships and battle blindness
– The Glenwood Springs chapter of Lions Clubs International turned 90 on Dec. 6.
Founded in 1921, the local club lacks only a few decades to be as old as the city itself, which was platted and incorporated in 1885.
The Lions held a birthday celebration earlier this month with a party at the Hotel Denver, at which roughly 40 people attended, according to longtime member Darryl Stanley.
The members, explained longtime member Carleton L. Hubbard Jr., are proud of the service to community and patriotism that comes with being a Lion. It is a world view that he and other local members hope to pass on to the next generation.
Lions Clubs are the world’s largest network of service clubs, boasting 1.36 million members in approximately 46,000 chapters around the globe.
Among the first
Colorado hopped on the Lions Club train early on, according to its members, and Glenwood Springs was not far behind.
“We were one of the first in the state,” said Rob Trebesh. He has been a member since the early 1980s, as has Stanley.
Hubbard, known as “Hub” to his friends and acquaintances, has been a Lion for 62 years, following in his father’s footsteps and keeping the club’s archives.
He said the first Colorado clubs were formed in 1918, in Boulder and Fort Collins, one year after Lions Clubs International was founded in 1917 in Chicago.
By 1921, when the Glenwood Springs club was created, there were already 15 others in the state, and a total of a dozen joined up that year, including Grand Junction and Delta, Hubbard reported.
“We were the only game in town back then,” he said, referring to the widespread interest in service clubs in that era. “Now, there’s numerous other civic organizations.”
Hubbard said his father, Carleton L. Hubbard Sr., was a founding member of the Glenwood Springs club. Hubbard said he became familiar with the ways of the club as a child, long before he became a member.
In its first year, the club had 26 members, according to Hubbard’s records.
Membership waxed and waned through the years. The club went into hiatus from 1929 through 1934, during the depths of the Great Depression, but came back to life in 1935 with 43 members.
“We’ve had a high as over a hundred,” noted Trebesh. The current membership is around 45.
Several times, the state Lions Clubs International convention was held in Glenwood Springs, in 1923, 1927, 1938 and 1947, and Glenwood Springs Lions members traveled across the state and country to attend conventions.
At the 1938 convention, Carleton L. Hubbard Sr. was elected district governor for the entire state.
“In the next year he drove 12,000 miles visiting every club in Colorado at least once,” Hubbard noted, at a time when the state had 61 clubs with a total of 2,541 members.
In 1939, Hubbard said, the Glenwood Springs club hosted Lions International President Walter Dexter, and the senior Hubbard got a resolution passed at a rules meeting that split Colorado into two districts.
“I guess driving 12,000 miles was too much for anyone,” Hubbard said, with a smile.
“Basically, the Lions Club has been for people of all walks of life,” Trebesh said.
From its inception, he explained, the club has provided an outlet for civic boosters and business owners, “people who had an interest in seeing the town grow and thrive.”
But the club had one prohibition for most of its history, the members conceded. Until the 1980s, it was a male-only enterprise, with women relegated to an offshoot called Lioness Clubs.
According to published accounts, the revolution began in the 1970s when individual Lions Clubs began quietly admitting women without the permission of the international organization. In 1981, the Lloyd Lions in Portland, Ore., openly defied the ban and accepted women members, and was soon stripped of its charter.
In 1986, the international organization changed its constitution to permit women to join the clubs as full members. The Lloyd Lions did not get their charter renewed until 1988, according to the club’s website.
In Glenwood Springs, the first woman to become a member was Alice Sundeen, in February 1988, according to Stanley. Trebesh said Sundeen, director of community relations at Valley View Hospital, continues to be a dues-paying Lion.
Most people are at least somewhat aware of their local Lions Club and the many things that club members do to benefit the community.
By the time local kids hit high school, they know the club offers scholarships for college-bound students.
Anyone who frolics in Sayre Park knows, or should know, that the club is responsible for building the dugouts, ball fields and fences there, and that painting the baseball stands and picnic shelter there has been a regular club project for decades.
Lions Club pancake breakfasts held during community events up and down the Roaring Fork Valley have fed countless kids and adults over the years.
Much of the club’s work these days involves raising money for scholarships. Stanley said the club’s goal each year is to raise about $5,000 to give to deserving college-bound Glenwood Springs High School seniors.
Whatever remains of each year’s funds goes toward a club tradition that began more than 85 years ago, when the club was still young.
At the 1925 Lions Club International Convention in Cedar Point, Ohio, Helen Keller, who went blind and deaf due to a fever at the age of 18 months, challenged the club to become “Knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness.”
The club took up the gauntlet and ever since has worked to prevent blindness.
The local club members proudly talk about that mission, to be Knights of the Blind.
Stanley, in particular, extolled the club’s work in this area, noting that the clubs sponsor vision screening for preschoolers, provide glasses to needy locals and are part of an international network of agencies that replace damaged eye parts.
“Here in Colorado we have the Eye Bank,” he remarked, referring to the Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Bank in Denver, which collects and sends out donated corneas to clinics around the U.S. and the world.
“My mom had a cornea transplant from the Eye Bank,” Stanley said, noting that she was living in Denver at the time.
Acknowledging that the club’s 100th anniversary is rapidly approaching, Stanley agreed that the event should be something special.
“We’ll have to get someone on the young side to put it together,” he remarked with a chuckle.
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