Creswell Lions Club disbands after 71

Standing, from left: Martha McReynolds Jr., honorary past Lions member; Verlean McCoy, Creswell Heritage Foundation president; and Lions member Peggy Bryant. Sitting, from left, are honorary past-Lions member Janet Johnson and Lions members Crystal Hartman and John Franklin. Hartman, Bryant and Franklin were the club’s last remaining members. They met for their last meeting at Franklin’s house on Monday. Photo provided/Martha McReynolds Jr.

”Poor membership and a lack of interest has seen increases in both service and fraternal organizations…Franklin said that the times are a part of that: communities were more cohesive when there were only three channels on TV.”

John Franklin has been part of the Lions Club since 1979. As the club’s current president, he said when he first moved into town he was asked to join and it was a ”privilege to be asked.” He had joined a service organization that had been around since 1948.
Times change, and the once-thriving club has a membership that has ”dwindled to a point where it’s not sustainable,” Franklin explained. At monthly meetings, there were around three attendees – one was him and the second was the club’s secretary.
For that reason, Creswell’s Lions Club held its last meeting June 3.
”Well, it’s a sad thing, but if you can’t get motivated people that want to spend their time and pay their dues to be involved in the community, then it’s an impossibility,” Franklin said. ”It’s a sad thing to give something up, but you know I’ll find something else to do.”
Poor membership and a lack of interest has seen increases in both service and fraternal organizations. Franklin said that a car club he belonged to also closed from dwindling membership, and another club he’s in is half the size it was even four years ago. He said that the times are a part of that: communities were more cohesive when there were only three channels on TV.
”Now we’ve become more disperse and separate,” he said. Although he also attributes the recession for impacting some people who couldn’t afford to pay dues or attend meetings.
The Lions Club had a rich history in Creswell.
The club’s global causes include: Diabetes, vision, hunger, environment and childhood cancer; the Creswell club’s focus has been on vision. Franklin said that after he joined the organization, it applied and received grants from Apple Inc., to provide computers to Creswell’s schools for blind students. From there, the organization has helped provide vouchers for students to receive glasses and vision care.
”The Lions Club is an important organization, and I’m hopeful that once it’s gone people that weren’t paying attention might decide that maybe it was a good idea to have, and reorganize it,” Franklin said.
Cottage Grove’s Lions Club is still going strong, and Franklin said that if someone wanted to reorganize the club for Creswell, he’s sure Cottage Grove would help set it up.
Although the club is disbanding at the end of the month, Franklin said the club will still be giving vouchers out. When the club does close down, the money that it has saved will be donated to local organizations with a focus in sight or hearing. They are going to work with Creswell First to administer money for Island Optical, as well as donate to an out-of-state camp that hosts vision-impaired children – that local children have attended in the past.
Beyond vision care, Franklin said they would also donate money to the Creswell Heritage Foundation for the refurbishment of the Old Schoolhouse. The club also bought a brick for the new library so it can be commemorated into the town’s history.
At this point, Franklin said he’s hopeful the Lions return in the future, but first people need to ”get off their computers and into the community.”
”Hopefully we will fly again at some time,” he said. ”Sometimes it takes a loss of something for people to feel it and say, ‘maybe that wasn’t a good idea.’”



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