The Fort Dodge Lions Club has a long history of local service

On Aug. 19, 1921, the Fort Dodge Lions Club was chartered with 33 people present to sign the charter.

The club first met at the Wahkonsa Hotel, then the Warden Hotel, then the Eilers Hotel, then back to the Wahkonsa until moving to Treloars Inn for many years.

Many prominent Fort Dodgers have served as the club president over the years, some of which are E.M. McCall (the first president), James Dolliver, Dwight Rider, Harlan Rogers, Gordy DeKoster, Larry Ackerman and former Mayor Herb Conlon.

In 1974, the Fort Dodge Lions Club became the Fort Dodge Noon Lions Club as it sponsored a new club called the Fort Dodge Evening Lions Club. The club also has sponsored a Lioness Club here in Fort Dodge and is working toward starting a Leo Club for high school students.

The Fort Dodge Noon Lions Club will be celebrating its 100th anniversary on Aug. 20, 2021, and will be inviting many VIPs to this special event.

The motto of the Lions Club International is ”We Serve” and the Fort Dodge Noon Lions Club is proud of its service projects. As the Knights of the Blind, its focus has for many years been on sight. Locally, it focuses on sight by conducting vision screenings of preschool children.

This project, named Kids Sight, has identified several children with vision issues that their parents were totally unaware of. Specially trained Lions take photographs of the eyes of young children ranging in age from 6 months old to first-graders. The photos are sent to the opthalmology department at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City to be examined by doctors. If there is a need for treatment, the parents receive a report and they can then see a doctor of their choice.

These vision screenings are held at local daycare facilities and preschools. They are done for free.

The club also purchases glasses for children if their parents cannot afford them.

The club has sponsored many puppies at the Fort Dodge Correctional Facility, with these dogs being trained to become Leader Dogs for the Blind.

The club donates money every year to the Iowa Lions Foundation, which in turn supports the Iowa Lions Eye Bank, the only eye bank in Iowa.

The club also contributes money to the Lions Club International Foundation, which funds Kids Sight programs, eye clinics and medicines to prevent blindness across the country and around the world. The club collects used eyeglasses for redistribution in developing nations.

Sight conservation and assistance to the blind has been the primary focus of the club, but not its only focus. Locally, it has supported the Beacon of Hope Men’s Shelter, the Salvation Army, Webster County Crime Stoppers, and after-prom parties for area high schools.

The club has adopted Hawley-Lions Park. Club members paint the park’s shelter and plant flowers there.

The club provided the money for the concrete floor at the Opera House at the Fort Museum and Frontier Village.

The club has also adopted special needs classes, providing their teachers with money to help buy needed supplies for their classrooms and hosting an annual picnic for the students and teachers.

The club also supports Camp Hertko Hollow for children with diabetes and Camp Courageous for kids with special needs.

There’s more than service work to club, however. Every year in May, it hosts a steak fry and the Feast Before the Beast pancake breakfast at the Badger Lake Dragon Boat Bash.

If you would like to have some fun and help us meet needs in Fort Dodge, Iowa and the world, we’d like to have you pay us a visit. Contact Tom Webster at 515-570-4407.

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