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The Lions Club Celebrates 80 Years

The Lions Club of Hasbrouck Heights celebrates its 80th anniversary of helping the community.

The fable “The Lion and the Mouse” teaches the lesson that the small and meek among us can lend a hand to the most distinguished and proud. The Lions Club of Hasbrouck Heights proves that those notable individuals can return the favor.

The Lions Club, founded in 1917, was the brainchild of Melvin Jones, a business leader who wanted to give back to his community. The club went international by 1920 and is, today, the largest service club organization in the world with 1.35 million members, according to their website.

“Lions International, which is headquartered in Chicago, their mission is to help the blind and the hearing impaired, as well. That was founded in 1917 and Helen Keller was integral to the formation of the Lions International. The local club was chartered on May 23rd, 1931,” says Board of Directors member Thomas Mason, Jr.

Having been established locally by Dr. Clarence Hitchcock, the Lions of Hasbrouck Heights, who currently hold regular meetings at the Crow's Nest in Hackensack, were the first social club in New Jersey.

Besides their contributions to New Jersey’s Camp for Blind Children, the Association for Blind athletes and other vision-related causes, the Lions charities are numerous:

  • Purchased thermal imaging equipment for the Fire Department
  • Sponsored fireworks displays for the Fourth of July for the past 27 years
  • Purchased Hasbrouck Heights High School’s first football field flood lights in 1948 (providing New Jersey with its first high school night game)
  • Initiated and continues to sponsor the community blood bank
  • Helped establish and develop Woodland Park as a natural preserve
  • Helped found the Hasbrouck Heights Student Loan Fund
  • Purchased the scoreboard and marquee for Hasbrouck Heights High School

While all the Lions Club members have their own reasons for joining, they all agree that the greatest gifts have been the camaraderie and the gratification of making a contribution.

Lions Club President, Alan Baker, says, “It’s good. You get out there and raise money for children who are sight-impaired and you raise money to give back to the town.”

Thomas King, the Financial Secretary, finds that he is most proud of “the people that we’ve helped and the people that we’ve recognized, citizens in the town that did something for other people.”

“The camaraderie is great amongst the members… And when you drive by and you see young children using those backstops playing baseball [at Woodland Park]. That makes you feel good. It gives you a great deal of satisfaction,” says Mason describing the club as a “labor of love.”

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