By Jack Murray
Meet the Lions.
That’s what the Palos Lions Club named the picnic feast that the Lions cooked up for prospective members and other guests last month on the Palos Park Village Green.
Living up to the Lions’ motto, “We Serve,” the club served savory grilled steaks and roasted corn on the cob, the club’s specialty. Diane’s Place owner Diane Goerg provided cheesy potatoes, an orzo pasta salad and dessert.
“This is a membership drive for us,” Palos Lions Club President Herb Schumann said as he carried a tray of sizzling steaks to the buffet picnic table. Aiming to recruit an infusion of new blood, individual Lions invited friends to enjoy dinner and learn what the club has to offer.
A sign of the times, the Palos group’s membership has dwindled to half of what it used to be. It’s down from about 80 during the club’s heyday 30 to 40 years ago to just over 40 Lions today, according to Schumann. Lions clubs, however, are not alone in losing members through death and attrition. “Membership is down among service organizations across the country,” Schumann said.
70th Anniversary celebration
To celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Palos Lions Club’s founding this year, the Lions plan a special occasion to mark the milestone, Schumann said after dinner. The club will host a “First Responder Appreciation Night” on Wednesday, Oct. 16, starting with a reception at 6:30 p.m. and dinner at 7 p.m. at Palos Country Club, 13100 Southwest Hwy.
The Lions that evening will honor an individual first responder from each of the six public safety departments that serve and protect the Palos area. They are the Palos Heights, Palos Park and Palos Hills police departments and the Palos Heights, Palos and North Palos fire protection districts. Each agency will select its honoree who will receive a plaque and gift to recognize his or her achievements. The Lions will give each department 10 free tickets for the honoree, family members and co-workers.
The event will also include door prizes and a split-the-pot, with proceeds going to charity. Tickets cost $35 per person. For tickets or more information, call Herb Schumann at 420-0120.
The Palos Lions Club donated more than $21,500 to charities and people in need last fiscal year, Schumann said. It gives $100 gift cards to each of 50 needy people or families in the community during the holidays. The club contributes to The Center in Palos Park, Illinois Special Olympics, Together We Cope, Camp Lions, which serves people with vision or hearing loss; Heartland Service Dogs, the Twisted Sisters, who send care packages to our troops; and the Chicago Comets beep baseball organization. It makes it possible for people with vision loss to play ball.
Other causes that benefit from the Palos Lions’ largesse include the Westside Foundation, which serves children with disabilities; CRIS Radio Lighthouse, which broadcasts newspaper articles and other print media to people with vision loss and SWADDLE. It gives diapers to families in need.
“If you have a charity that you want to promote and support, we want your input,” Schumann told guests after dinner.
It takes a community
The Palos Lions Club’s Christmas tree sale is its biggest fund-raiser, Schumann said. Lions unload the fir trees and set up the lot near the northwest corner of 127th Street and Harlem Avenue soon after Thanksgiving.
The second-largest source of funds is Candy Day. Lions will soon “shake the can,” seeking donations in return for candy outside Palos area Jewel food stores. Look for them on Oct. 4 and 5 outside the Palos Heights store, at Palos Park’s from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 11 and 12, and at Palos Hills’ Jewel on Oct. 11. Palos Heights Alderman Jack Clifford arranges for union members to collect Candy Day donations at prominent intersections in Palos Heights, said Lion Jim Lewis, a former president of the club.
The Lions are renowned locally for their roasted corn on the cob. They sell it for $2 an ear, three for $5, at the Palos Heights Classic Car Event, Palos School District 118’s Back-to-School picnic and Palos Park’s Autumn in the Park festival scheduled for Sept. 21 and 22. Although corn sales raise less money than the projects above, they promote the club by keeping it in the public eye. “That’s our tradition,” Schumann said. “It’s our specialty that we are known for.”
Being a Lion is not all work and no play. Members can enjoy golf outings, a local baseball night out, and conventions, dinners and other events held by district, regional or state Lions entities. The Lions will host a Bears vs. Rams party on Nov. 17 at Mama Vesuvio’s restaurant, 6361 W. College Drive, in Palos Heights. Such events typically include lots of food, beverages, raffles and door prizes.
The club’s regular meetings start at 7 p.m. on the third Wednesday of the month at Mama Vesuvio’s, the new Lions’ den. They get down to business after dinner. Their old meeting place, Hackney’s, closed last winter.
Herb and Colleen Schumann were sworn in as Lions on the same night about six years ago, Colleen said at last month’s outdoor fete. Why did she join? “Because the Palos Lions were in need of a breath of fresh air and a commitment to assure that the club’s legacy of service continues in the Palos area,” she said. “Plus, it’s a lot of fun. Our events are always enjoyable, with plenty of jokes, laughter and camaraderie.”
Prospective member Ray Sarbiewski said he was very interested in what he learned about the Lions from Schumann’s after-dinner talk. “I didn’t know all that much about the Lions before,” he said. Did he plan to join? “I will consider it,” he said. “It was very nice that they said they are looking for suggestions of new charities to give money to,” Ray’s wife Gail said. They were guests of Lion Tom Bump, the club’s secretary.
“I’d be happy to contribute in some way,” said Palos Fire Chief Mike McDonald whose fire station is next door to the Village Green. Invited by Herb Schumann, Chief McDonald added: “I’m a worker. If you need help for a good cause, I’m there.”
Lion Pam Benson, who owns Pam Benson Fine Jewelry in the Old Orland Historic District, joined almost two years ago. “Tom Crowhurst [a former president of the club] forced me to join,” she said. “He told me he couldn’t be my friend anymore if I didn’t.” Benson said she’s not as active as some others in the club, “but I gave them Tom Bump,” she said of her fiancé. “This is a great group. They are so unselfish and dedicated. They just give, give, give.”
Article was published in The Regional News on September 12, 2019
Photos by Jack Murray