Since 1956, the Severn River Lions Club has diligently served the community through outreach activities and given generously in time and financial assistance to needy individuals, families and organizations. The club held a celebration on June 13 to commemorate the anniversary while looking toward the future. It was attended by community leaders, public officials and Lion leaders from several districts.
Officially chartered on March 8, 1956, the Severn River Lions Club was launched by 26 men dedicated to serve the areas bounded by the Magothy River, Severn River, Routes 3 and 50, and Earleigh Heights Road. The new organization was sponsored by the Lions clubs of Catonsville, Brooklyn and Glen Burnie. Women were inducted in 1997 and four have since held the highest honor of King Lion.
Some of the club’s accomplishments — according to the anniversary celebration program — include aiding the Maryland School for the Blind, Maryland School for the Deaf, Leader Dogs for the Blind, Severna Park Health Center, Meals on Wheels and SPAN (Serving People Across Neighborhoods). The organization has provided eyeglasses, hearing aids and artificial eyes, installed safe driving signs, organized a civil defense group, sponsored Little League baseball teams, given first aid kits and fire extinguishers to local churches, supplied flags to local scout troops, sponsored Cub Pack 688, and provided financial scholarships to graduating seniors of local high schools.
The Severn River Lions Club is also active internationally. In May 1993, it became a model club for the Lions Clubs International Foundation’s (LCIF) Campaign SightFirst. Their goal was exceeded and Campaign SightFirst received a two-year total of $23,000. The example was broadcast to all U.S.-based clubs as a template and recommendation. In 2006, the group again became a model club in the Campaign SightFirst II initiative.
Other accolades include spearheading a pilot program for the Lions Eye Health Program (LEHP), which was adopted by LCIF to bring information and education to the local citizens in search of help in sight conservation and related programs. The club has assisted Habitat for Humanity, district projects, Lions Association for Sight and Hearing (LASH), contributed to the building of an outdoor pavilion at the Maryland School for the Blind, and supported the Lions Vision Research Foundation at the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute.
Over the years, one member has literally seen it all. Ray Smith joined the Severna Park Lions in 1963 after an invitation from a neighbor to attend a meeting. Smith holds the honorable distinction of being the longest-serving Lion. Smith is proud of the many ways the Lions can support the community. He has held numerous roles in his 58 years of service, but he most enjoyed serving as the scholarship chairman.
“I thoroughly enjoy learning about and working with the young people,” said Smith. “I love to watch them progress in their education and into fine adults who also serve their communities.”
Severn River Lions Club President Chris Werth, a member since 1984, is excited about the club’s future. After a year of quarantine, “I am very hopeful that we will be back to actively serving our community and neighbors in need through our various service projects,” Werth said. “Of course, our hallmark is sight and hearing, and glasses and hearing aids. That’s what we are known for,” he continued, “but we are always open to new projects and new members.”
To learn more about the many initiatives and fundraising activities of the Lions, or to get more involved by sharing your time and talent as a member, visit www.severnriverlions.org.
Starting in July, members will once again gather in person for their monthly dinner meeting at the Severna Park Legion Post 175 in Manhattan Beach. To attend, contact SRLC@severnriverlions.org.