Montclair Lions Club (#36563) History
1979 to Present
Preface: As with all historical documents, our club’s history must be viewed as both a work in progress and a compilation of memories from our membership. Since its beginning in 1979, the membership of the Montclair Lions Club has been dedicated to supporting the motto of Lions Club International (LCI), “We Serve”.
All of our members, both past and present, voluntarily contribute their time and talents to help those less fortunate than ourselves. We do this with a focus of serving those in our local community but when the need is great, we have extended our reach to areas far beyond Northern Virginia to support state, national and even international needs.
Since 1979 our club has typically held its dinner/business meetings on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday evenings of most months at the Montclair Country Club. In addition, we have held club socials at both the Country Club and other locations around Northern Virginia. As of October 2022, we switched our dinner/business meetings to be held on the 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month at the Montclair Country Club.
Our club is part of the Virginia Lions District 24-L which serves; Albermarle, Alleghany, Arlington, Augusta, Bath, Clarke, Culpeper, Fairfax, Fauquier, Fluvanna, Frederick, Greene, Highland, King George, Loudoun, Louisa, Madison, Nelson, Orange, Page, Prince William, Rappahannock, Rockbridge, Rockingham, Shenandoah, Spotsylvania, Stafford, Warren, Westmoreland and the Independent Cities of Alexandria, Buena Vista, Charlottesville, Covington, Fairfax City, Falls Church, Fredericksburg, Harrisonburg, Lexington, Manassas, Manassas Park, Staunton, Waynesboro, and Winchester.
It is hoped that those in our ranks, and who join us in the future will benefit from knowing some of the following history and will help us both expand on the past and seek new opportunities in the future in keeping with our Lions Club Emblem of two Lions looking both forward and behind.
The Early Days: The Dale City Lions Club was our sponsoring Lions Club and helped us initiate our first meeting at the Montclair Country Club in January 1979. The first president elected at the organizational meeting was Ron Milam. He returned to the club as our guest speaker in January, 2003 to kick off our 25th anniversary year. This 25th anniversary meeting was recognized in the 108th Congress – 2nd Session, Congressional Record Vol, 150, No. 90 Extension of Remarks – June 25, 2004 (The Honorable Tom Davis).
Given the number of golfing members, when we first organized, our first major fund raiser was a charity golf tournament held at the Montclair Country Club. We held over 30 annual tournaments (from 1979 to 2008), predominately at Montclair, but we did stray time-to-time to other golf clubs in the northern Virginia area, e.g., Bristow Manor Golf Club and Piedmont Golf Club. The 30th annual Montclair golf tournament, was our last tournament in May 2008, as an economic downturn and a general loss in golfers made continuing this fund raiser impractical.
Other fund raisers however quickly filled the void as the club continued to fund various charities, purchase eye-glasses and hearing aids for people in need, and fund multiple types of scholarships for deserving high school students.
Meetings, Socials and Recognition: The first charter night was held in February 1979 with forty-four charter members signing the club’s chartering document. The framed charter has subsequently been brought to all Charter/Installation nights along with a large plaque that reflects the names of all of the club’s past presidents.
The club has since recruited over three hundred members during its 42 plus year history. The current membership as of this writing is 41 members.
We have one remaining charter member in our ranks today: Lion Terry Tallent. Lion Terry has held numerous positions in the club’s leadership including two terms as President, e.g., (2004-2005) and (2019-2020). His second term, which marked the 41st year of the club’s existence, overlapped the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and, during the final months of Terry’s reign, the club transitioned to holding virtual meetings (via Zoom) for both the Board, as well as our business meetings.
The 40th anniversary charter night, where Lion Terry took over as club president for his second term, was held on June 11, 2019, with the Keynote Speaker being the Honorable Maureen Caddigan (Potomac District Supervisor). Ms. Caddigan presented the club with a plaque and a declaration of service from the Prince William County Board of Supervisors. The 40th anniversary was also recognized in the 116th Congress – 1st Session, Congressional Record, Vol 165, No. 52 Extension of Remarks – March 26, 2019 (The Honorable Robert Wittman).
The club has held many social functions where we invite spouses and friends of the club members. The major social functions continue to be the Valentine’s Day, Christmas/holiday dinner and the annual June Charter/Installation dinner. One of the traditional holiday events is having the Forest Park High School Choir group, the Platinums, provide a medley of holiday songs before the dinner meeting. When this event is held, the club has made a donation to the school’s choral group. Other social functions have included picnics and wine tasting tours.
The club strives to be both a service club and a social club – the old proverb – all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy applies. In 2016 we invested in a full-size Lions costume that has been used to raise community awareness at White Cane collections for sight and hearing needs, spaghetti dinners at the Montclair Fire Department and Trunk-or-treat candy giveaways at the Montclair Country Club.
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lion Evelyn Marr saw a need to boost club morale by taking the action to start up an internal club subgroup called the Sunshine Committee. The Sunshine Committee, comprised of many of the club’s female membership, has taken on the duties to acknowledge members’ birthdays with cards mailed to their homes, plan special dinner meeting surprises, arrange for decorations, arrange a Veterans Day salute to all club member veterans, and routinely reach out to those in the club who may be suffering from illness, disease or disabling injuries.
Leadership: The philosophy for the Club’s leadership from 1979 to present is to annually encourage a change in most all Club leadership positions, with a focus on progression from entry level up through the rank of club president. Thus, most of our club presidents have routinely had multiple years on our board and a long association within our club. The exception to this philosophy has been in our Treasurer and Secretary positions which have been viewed as longer term positions and are thus not routinely rotated on an annual basis. An interesting exception occurred during the Covid-19 Pandemic, when Lion Mike O’Neal held the position of President for two consecutive years. During this two-year period, many of the club’s monthly membership meetings were held virtually, using Zoom, with guest speakers invited to attend virtually.
Since the pandemic began in March 2020, all of the monthly Board meetings have been held via Zoom. Prior to this, monthly Board meetings were either held at a board member’s home or the Montclair Library, which was completed in February 2016.
In the 2005 timeframe, Lion Marcel Bedard transferred his membership to our club and took on the duties of Club Secretary. Lion Marcel was initially a member of the Dale City Lions and sponsored the establishment of the Montclair charter in 1979. He held the Secretary position for seven years before he passed away in May of 2012 culminating 49 years of community service as a Lion.
In memory of Marcel’s dedicated years to Lionism, another annual high school Scholarship was added to our charitable giving in Marcel’s name with the first scholarship awarded in 2014. This new scholarship was initially funded entirely by Club member contributions. In the years following, the club’s annual scholarships, i.e., Montclair Lions Club scholarship based on need, and the Marcel Bedard scholarship recognizing outstanding leadership, have been included in the club’s annual budget preparation. Marcel’s wife, Elaine, was made an honorary Lion in 2013 and attended dinner meetings for a number of years.
Awarding scholarships to local high school students continues to this day with application opportunities being extended to high schools that have served the Montclair Community and to senior high school students living in the 22025 zip code.
Fundraising & Charitable Giving: Over the past 42 years, the Montclair Lions club has distributed in excess of $1,000,000. These funds have been obtained from a wide variety of fund raisers to include our golf tournaments, citrus sales, white cane collections, luminaria sales, White House Christmas ornament sales, E bay auctions, semi-annual community yard sales, bingo, 4th of July food sales, Holiday rum cake sales, Christmas tree sales, light bulb sales, working at Nissan Pavilion, aluminum can recycling, entertainment book sales, raffles, a virtual Art Auction, Texas Hold-em tournaments and a craft fair.
From a historical perspective many of our major fundraisers tend to be annual events, e.g., golf tournaments, fruit sales, white cane collection, White House ornament sales and our Texas Hold-em events.
The White House ornament sales was started by Lion Evelyn Marr during the reign of President Trey Austin and Lion Evelyn was recognized as Lion of the Year (2003 -2004). The annual sale of the ornaments was carried on for a number of years by Lion Kathy Grover who passed the baton to Lion Betsy Austin in 2009, with behind-the-scenes assistance provided by Lion Trey Austin. Each year the club’s members have continued to meet the challenge and sell a larger number of ornaments. By example, the 2021 ornament sales reflected nearly 2359 ornaments sold with over $9,168 raised in net revenue to the club’s supported charities.
The Texas Hold-em events began as the interest in holding a golf tournament dwindled. As of this writing we have held 15 in-person Texas Hold-em events and one virtual event that was held in August 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic. The venue for the in-person events has varied over the years but we are now partnered with the Dumfries-Triangle Volunteer Fire Department in Triangle. The brains and brawn behind starting the Texas Hold-em event (circa 2005) was Lion Dave Marr and Lion Jim Cech.
In addition, the club has donated manpower for community activities to include Habitat for Humanity, ACTS food and clothing drives, spaghetti dinner and pancake breakfast events at the Dumfries-Triangle Volunteer Fire Department (which opened in 2010), food preparation at the Hilda Barg Homeless Shelter, supporting the Virginia Remote Area Medical (RAM) clinics, tree planting, the semi-annual Drug-Take-Back Day, Quantico Wreath laying, Adopt-a-Highway cleanup (Waterway Drive adopted in 2016) and last, but far from least, supporting sight and hearing screening at local Prince William County schools. Our support in this latter area, a Lions signature activity, has been enhanced by the purchase of three Welch Allen Spot Screeners, aka SPOT machines for state-of-the-art vision screening, associated printers, and an audiometer for hearing testing. The club also collects and recycles used glasses for distribution overseas. As of this writing we maintain collection boxes at 18 locations in the vicinity of Montclair.
A large number of community service activities over the years centered around the Montclair Property Owners Association (MPOA) events to include Montclair Day Beer Sales, 4th of July Dixie Bones Barbeque sales, Trunk or Treat, the Montclair Triathlon and the Montclair Teen Beach Party. These events gave the club an opportunity to both serve our community and recruit new members.
In the mid-1980’s, members assisted with the construction of the Montclair Property Owners recreation area, Kid Dominions. As part of this community effort the Lions donated a Lion Water Fountain.
Other service activities include being a sponsor and financial supporter of the Virginia Diabetes Youth Camps, VisionWalk, the Leader Dog Program, Old Dominion Eye Foundation, Lions Club International Foundation (LCIF) Sight First Program, Northern Virginia Sight & Hearing Van, Lions Eyeglass Recycling Center, Lions Hearing Aid Bank Foundation, Special Olympics, Youth for Tomorrow, DTQ Little League, and the Lions Empowering and Aiding Regional Nurses in Schools (LEARNS) program.
As a Zone project we partnered with other Clubs to supported a New Years Day I-95 rest area safety break serving donated coffee and donuts. We also have supported the Lions of Virginia Bland Music Scholarship contest held in honor of James A. Bland.
Major Contributions: The club has a long history of donating annually to the LCIF. In 2020 the club was recognized by LCIF as a Model Club in response to their Campaign 100, for having supported their multi-year global fundraising initiative. In the spring of 2022, the club was recognized again as having obtained the status of a Visionary Club, which equates to an average of $750 per member being donated to LCIF during Campaign 100. Our donations to LCIF are also part of our 29 members who to date have been recognized as Melvin Jones Fellows (MJF). In addition, one of our members, Lion Jim Cech has been recognized as a Progressive Melvin Jones Fellow.
Many of our club’s members have also been involved in serving and volunteering their time to both Zone and District leadership positions. These positions include Zone Chair, LCIF District 24-L Campaign 100 coordinator, the Northern Virginia Lions Mobile Sight & Hearing Screening Unit and the Lions Youth Camp
In recent years we have successfully applied for and sponsored a number of individuals who are vision impaired with scholastic scholarship grants through the Virginia Lions Eye Institute Foundation.
In 2016 Lion Jim Cech proposed that our club partner with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to support the nationwide semiannual Drug-Take-Back initiative and establish a third collection point in Prince William County. The focus of the Drug-Take-Back is to get unused/expired prescription drugs out of the medicine cabinets where they can be misused by curious teens or the elderly and additionally to keep these products out of our water supplies and landfill. A side benefit of this effort is that the collected pill containers, cleaned by members of our club to remove all labels, are donated to mission teams, such as Doctors Without Borders, to be used to dispense medications overseas.
In June of 1999, the club took the step to apply for tax exempt status under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. The registered name is the Lions Club of Montclair Charities Inc. through our postal address PO Box 246, Dumfries, VA 22026-0246. An IRS determination letter reflecting that status dated March 21, 2006 with EIN 54-1955100 assigned.
The Montclair Lions club sponsored a Leo club at Potomac High School from 1989 until 1994. The club also took steps to establish a Leo club at Hylton High School but the exact dates that the club existed has been lost.
In June of 2020, in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, our club was successful at chartering a community-based club (verses a single high school-based club) and the Montclair Leo Club was chartered in July of 2020 with 25 student charter members from 7 high schools. The event was marked by the Charter Night being conducted virtually (via Zoom) on August 22, 2020. The presiding Senior Lion presenting the Leo Charter was District Governor 24-L Glen Logan.
One of the very first events conducted between the Lions and Montclair Leo Club was honoring the 50th anniversary of the Prince William County Police Department on 1 July 2020. At this event, conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Montclair Lions Club, in cooperation with the Dale City Lions Club and the Montclair Leo Club provided 80 prepared lunches for the Central District and Garfield Police Stations. The meals were purchased from Dixie Bones and were made available to the police officers for the mid-afternoon shift change at both stations.
Membership: Women were first granted membership by Lions Clubs International (LCI) in 1987, when LCI determined that Lionesses could be better served by being simply recognized as Lions. Subsequently the Lioness auxiliary program was dissolved in 1991. Our first female Lion was Sally Horn, who joined in 1990. Our first female board member was Kathy Grover who served as our lion tamer in 1996 – 1997, and our first female president was Lion Betsy Austin 2002 -2003. Lion Evelyn Marr was the first repeat president serving 2005-2006 and 2017-2018. At the time of this writing, the club’s total membership of 41 members includes 14 female members.
Our club maintains a website at http://montclairlions.org and this information is posted under the heading of Club History.
Over our club’s 42+ year history we have accomplished much, but we stand ready to meet the challenges that lie ahead.