Lions Club International celebrates centennial anniversary

From left: President Paul Kronbergs, Jack Moran, Linda Eicher, Liz Almond, Selby and Vannette Poole at a vision screening in 2016 where 200 children were tested.

From left: President Paul Kronbergs, Jack Moran, Linda Eicher, Liz Almond, Selby and Vannette Poole at a vision screening in 2016 where 200 children were tested.

Lions Club International was established in Chicago in 1917 and this year celebrates its 100th anniversary. With over 1.3 million members and 45,000 chapters worldwide, the group has become one of the largest service organizations in the world, said Paul Kronbergs, president of the Spicewood and Highland Lakes Lions Club.


The local chapter was established in February 2009, with the help of guiding volunteers from the former Marble Falls Noon Lions Club, he said.


“There were not any service clubs [in Spicewood] and there were people who wanted to help the community," Kronbergs said.




Marble Falls Noon Lions Club President Edna Lowry hands Kronbergs the club's sombrero when the groups join in 2016. Marble Falls Noon Lions Club President Edna Lowry hands Kronbergs the club's sombrero when the groups join in 2016.[/caption]

With just over 20 members, the Spicewood Lions’ initial project was organizing Spicewood’s inaugural Independence Day parade in 2009, coordinating with local businesses to offer hot dogs, chips and drinks for the event, he said.


In July 2016, with Lions membership in Marble Falls on the decline, the two sister chapters combined to form the Spicewood and Highland Lakes Lions Club, covering a service area spanning 200 square miles, Kronbergs said.


“We have over 50 members and we appreciate every one of them,” he said. “They get a lot out of giving back to the community.”


Kronbergs said he hopes Marble Falls can be a self-sustaining chapter once again.


Lions are honoring the organization’s 100th anniversary by serving their community with four main goals in mind; helping local youth; fostering vision health; sustaining the environment and supporting other service groups, Kronbergs said.


Serving two of those goals, the club purchased a spot visions screener, a tool the group uses to detect vision issues in children at a young age, he said. Lions are trained on the spot screener and offering free screenings at local schools.




Lions prepare Texas Lions Camp each spring before campers arrive. Lions prepare Texas Lions Camp each spring before campers arrive.[/caption]

“In 1925, Helen Keller visited Lions Club International and urged us to become ‘knight of the blind in the crusade against the dark,” Kronbergs said. “We want to make sure every kid in preschool and kindergarten knows the screener is available to them.”


Lion David Almond said the club offers free eye exams and glasses to people who are less fortunate as well.


Members volunteer to prepare Texas Lions Camp, a campground for children with physical disabilities, Type 1 diabetes and cancer, for incoming campers, Kronbergs said. Club dues fund admissions for campers as well.


The club hosts cleanups every four months on West Highway 71, between Spicewood and Marble Falls, he said.


Kronbergs said funds raised by the club throughout the year are distributed to other service groups in the area, such as the Helping Hands Crisis Ministry of Spicewood, which organizes projects to help Spicewood families who have gone through recent hardships. Lions also volunteer at local food banks, collect coats for needy children and serve food at the Ronald McDonald House in Austin.