EXETER — Jack Brogan has been a member of the Exeter Lions Club for more than six decades. It was only fitting he spoke about the history of the club at the annual dinner.
Brogan, along with many other Lions Club members celebrated the club’s 65th anniversary during the annual dinner held Friday, June 10 at Fox Hill Country Club. As part of the dinner, the club donated $300 to the Boy and Girl Scouts, and installed new officers for the upcoming term.
Brogan spoke about the history of the club to open the event.
“As we begin our 65 years of service to the community, we can look back on the last 64 with a sense of pride and accomplishment,” Brogan said. “In some small way we have made this town and this world a better place to live in.”
The Exeter Lions Club was founded in November 1951 with the sponsorship of the Duryea Lions Club. The original objective of Lions Clubs worldwide was to prevent blindness.
“That’s still the principal goal,” Brogan said. “The role of the club has changed along with the needs of the community.”
Current President Toni Valenti was the first female to be a member of the club seven years ago. Since then, the club has grown to have 10 women members.
Valenti said there weren’t any females not because the men didn’t want any, but because none ever applied to be in the club.
“One of the members wanted me to join,” said Valenti, who is in her second term of presidency. “At first I was a little reluctant. I parked in the parking lot for a couple meetings at Marianacci’s and I finally went in. They really excepted me.”
Valenti handed off the presidential duties to Ettore Anselmi on Friday, who will begin his term in the coming months. She was happy to share the 65th anniversary dinner with Brogan.
“Every year we do a dinner, but this was special because it was our 65th,” she said. “To have Jack be a part of it for 63 years, that’s why we made him speak.”
Over the years, the organization has contributed to many local and national organizations, including the Exeter Lions Little League, Boy and Girl Scouts, the Wyoming Free Library and the West Pittston Library, along with fire and ambulance companies.
In the past, some of these yearly donations have exceeded $10,000. In order for the Lions to fulfill all of their endeavors, the club holds fundraisers throughout the year. The biggest, a Night at the Races, brings in around $4,000, Valenti said. Also new this past year was the Christmas tree lighting, as well as an arts and crafts show that brought in $2,000.
“We do all of our own fundraising,” she said. “It’s all about giving back.”
Lions Club District Governor Richard Kilvitis was on hand to install the new officers of the club and present roses to the recently-deceased Exeter Lions Club members.
To become a Lion or be involved in the Exeter Lions Club, applications can be retrieved from any Lions Club member. Currently, the Lions are working on buying two “Welcome to Exeter” plaques to be placed on Wyoming Avenue. One will be near First Street, while the other will be near Barber Ford.
“Over the years, the various men and women who have proudly worn the Lions Lapel have proven themselves worthy of the task,” Brogan said.
Reach Nick Wagner at 570-991-6406 or on Twitter @Dispatch_Nick