April is Volunteer Appreciation Month. Throughout the month we are featuring service organizations in Osceola County.
Lions Club of Kissimmee
When organized at a meeting on March 21, 1939, the Kissimmee Lions Club elected Robert W. Young Sr. as its first president. The official charter date was April 18, 1939, with a banquet held at the Arcade Hotel on April 26. It was the 64th Lions Club established in Florida.
One of the more prominent Kissimmee Lions was Dr. Charles Bressler-Pettis who, with his wife Laura, traveled the United States promoting Lionism in his famous Cadillac, topped with a sculptured bust of Lions founder Melvin Jones. When Dr. Pettis created the Monument of States, his fellow Lions aided in its fundraising and construction. A boat hoist at the lakefront, street markers in the shape of the Monument of States, the boat basin walkway, a barbeque pit and bath house were all projects of the Lions Club.
Many young boys played on the Little League team sponsored by the Lions Club. A scholarship fund was set up to send a boy or girl to a state university, and eye exams and glasses were provided to those who could not afford it. The Lions Club collected 710 pairs of used eyeglasses to send to South America in 1972. The glasses were to be reworked for those unable to afford to buy glasses.
The Lions motto is “We Serve.” This is evident in the years of service to children who were given the opportunity for better education and sight, adults remaining self-supporting through eye care, the elderly aided in their need for eye operations, glasses or hearing aids and diabetes screening. A few of the projects supported by the Lions Club of Kissimmee are Project Right to Sight, Southeastern Guide Dogs, the Eye Bank and the Youth Exchange Scholarship Trust Fund.
Written by Anza Bast.
Sources: “Kissimmee Gazette” March 23, 1939, April 27, 1939; “Orlando Sentinel” June 28, 1968, April 2, 1969, September 17, 1972; e-clubhouse.org.