PITTSBURG, Kan. — The Pittsburg Lions Club chapter is celebrating its 100th year by hosting the Kansas Lions 100th Annual State Convention, which started Thursday and continues through Saturday at Memorial Auditorium.
The convention kicked off Thursday evening with a social gathering to celebrate the 17 clubs across the state that have hit the 100-year mark. The Pittsburg chapter’s president, Lori Horton, said a few words before food was served.
“It’s really impressive that any organization has managed to stand that test of time, especially over the last few years,” Horton said. “We can say it made it through the Depression, it made it through so many eras of these last 100 years.”
Horton said this was to be just a relaxed, casual event that gives the members a chance to meet one another. She then introduced Lions Club State Council Chair Diana Baumann, who thanked and introduced several of the leaders, including the International Director Deb Weaverling and Former International President Jimmy Ross, who is from Quitaque, Texas.
When Baumann asked if Ross wanted to say a few words before food was served, he stood up and said, “It’s my understanding you don’t stand between the audience and the food.”
After dinner the crowd was entertained by Morning Sun columnist J.T. Knoll, who Horton referred to as “our resident storyteller.”
Horton said she put in a bid three years ago to have the convention in Pittsburg and has been working hard for this weekend.
“I’m really excited,” Horton said. “We’ve already got a good turnout for tonight, and this is just kind of like the lead-in for some social time.”
On Friday, the attendees gathered for lunch and Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) who has been a Lions Club member for many years, gave a speech.
“Our country is so divided and things are so difficult, that we need things that pull us together as opposed to things that pull us apart,” Moran said. “Politics is a thing that pulls us apart, and civic clubs are and can be things that pull us together. I’m of the view that we change the world one soul, one person at a time and that’s much more likely to happen at home. And what we do as individuals and what we do as members of the Lions Club are much more likely to make a difference in someone’s life than some piece of legislation that Congress works its way through to make happen.
“I would challenge me and you that the change comes from what we do at home, not so much what we do on social media or Facebook or all of the things that can distract us,” he continued. “Roll up our sleeves, make a difference in people’s lives and the world will be a better place. And Lions have been doing that in 47,000 clubs and thousands of members around the world and we need more of that, not less. What you do is significant. I would hope you all get personal satisfaction out of your engagement and involvement in Lions Club, that you like the camaraderie and friendship and getting together for fellowship, and that’s hugely important, but I hope that you also recognize that in the process of doing something you enjoy you can make a difference in other people’s lives. And when we do that, our country can get together.”
Sen. Moran encouraged the members to keep doing good in their communities.
“I’m honored to be associated with you and what Lions Clubs do across the state,” he said.
After his speech, Ross presented Sen. Moran with his banner and pin from when he was International Lions Club president.
Moran thanked Ross and said he was very honored.
Later Friday afternoon, Ross gave a presentation session during which he encouraged everyone to focus on gaining more members.
“Everything we do, in my opinion, should have a membership component in it,” Ross said. “If it is not bringing in more members and more clubs, why are we doing it?”
Ross also discussed going to Washington D.C. with Sen. Moran and creating a caucus and visiting Congress, asking members to join the caucus, come to a meeting, and become Lions. He said they had about 12 members of the House of Representatives signed up for the Lions, and they’ve just got started.
He encouraged the attendees to go to their elected representatives and make friends with them and get them to become Lions.