By Almeda Girod
The Riderwood Lions Club maintains the tradition of opening their meetings with a salute to the flag, prayer, and a patriotic song. The Lions Club is a worldwide organization began in Chicago in 1917 by a businessman, Melvin Jones, to encourage others to give back to their communities. Lions Club was the first service club organization to admit women in 1987. Helen Keller spoke at the 1925 International Convention of Lions challenging the group to become the “Knights of the Blind”.
The Riderwood Lions Club is under the umbrella of College Park Lions Club, although it is independent and can implement new projects. Ken Kennedy and Colin Russell were among the founding members in 2005. Ken recently received the prestigious Melvin Jones Award.
Jeanette Johnson (aka JJ) has been President for four years. She began her interest in 1986 helping her husband with the White Cane Project. Colin Russell serves as Treasurer and Veronica Severns as Secretary. Ed Wachtman is membership chairman and project manager for activities listed below.
Following are some of the projects of the local club.
1. Ongoing clothing project. May call General Services for pickup of good and clean clothing. Label your donations for the Lions Club.
2. Collecting can tabs that are melted down with the metal being sold to benefit Ronald McDonald Houses.
3. Hearing aids are collected and given to University of Maryland to be recycled for the underprivileged. Glasses also are recycled and distributed overseas. Drop boxes are located in all neighborhoods.
4. Toiletries are collected for the homeless in November via drop boxes are in all neighborhoods.
5. Dolores Wachtman spearheads fashion shows twice a year using Taylor Marie clothing. Next event is scheduled for May 23.
6. Low Vision (LOVRNET), a joint program with Johns Hopkins, emphasizes how to best utilize one’s remaining vision. Contact Ed Wachtman at 301-960-9708 for more information.
7. Stamps for Wounded Veterans (cancelled stamps used for therapy). Collection boxes are in neighborhoods.
Many of the Lion members arrived at Riderwood with prior experience, however, residents such as Ed and Dolores Wachtman and Lewis and Gwendolyn Kurtz, are examples of folks who did not. Bob Hanna recruited Ed and in turn he encouraged Dolores who says “this is a way to help others.” Lewis had often heard of the good works of the Lions Club and as a new Riderwood resident met Colin Russell.
The Lions Club meets at 1:00 p.m. on the second Wednesday of each month in the Montgomery Station classroom, and at 4:30 p.m. on the fourth Thursday in the Windsor private dining room. Riderwood residents wanting to hear more of this opportunity to be of service to others may contact Jeanette Johnson at 202-669-9371 or Ed Wachtman at 301-960-9708.