Eight years ago I was debating if I wanted to join Lions Club. Fresh out of college and starting a new job, I wasn’t too worried about my volunteer services. I decided to attend a couple of meetings with Jamie Davis. I can remember walking in and realizing that I knew a lot of the men in the club. Men that I had known most of my life and respected. It did not take long to realize why they were members of this club. The meetings were fun, the members were all friends and their dedication to serving the community was strong. I quickly decided to join and eight years later, I find myself having the honor of serving as the 96th President of this amazing organization.
It has been a memorable eight years but my time serving as a Lion started long ago. I first got introduced to Lions Club when I was about 10 years old. I remember going to bike shops as far away as Houston with my dad, Jim West. We were trying to spread the word of a little bike ride in east Texas. I didn’t know anything about the Pineywoods Purgatory or Lions Club but I knew I wanted to hang out with my Dad so I hopped in the truck and went. We delivered brochures, marked the course for the different routes, and I always worked registration Friday evening and Saturday morning. I loved it. I felt like one of the members. That especially became true when I got a phone call at about 7 a.m. when I was 16 years old on the morning of the ride. My dad informed me to grab a broom and get to a certain street. He needed it swept off before the riders got there. They would be turning there and there was loose gravel on the street and he was afraid they may crash. So I spent the next hour sweeping the road. I can’t say I enjoyed that moment but it is a definite memory I’ll never forget and it taught me how much hard work it took from the members to put on an event strictly to raise money for their community.
Though the Pineywoods Purgatory has come and gone, our club has two other major projects we are strongly dedicated to. The Angelina Benefit Rodeo, also known as “The Greatest Show on Dirt”, and the Z&OO Train at Ellen Trout Zoo. The rodeo is probably the highlight of the year for most members. While it is only a four day event, our members spend their time working on it for over six months. We all know how busy life is, yet we make sure to dedicate time serving others so that we can improve our community. The rodeo is exactly that. We provide a fun, family event that brings people from all over east Texas and allows them to sit back and watch an amazing show of athleticism and entertainment. In return, this event gives Lions Club the ability to financially support many organizations in our community and let our fellow citizens of this great county know how important they are to us.
The Z&OO Train has become a vital part of our service to our community as well. It began as a dream of one of our members and has turned into a major fundraiser for the club. Children see the train at the zoo and it immediately puts a smile on their face. To see and hear how many memories are made while riding the train and know that we make that possible is an amazing feeling of pride and joy. With that comes responsibility, as well. Our club continues to improve the experience and understands the dedication needed to take care of what was one man’s dream originally. His dream allows us to financially support our future, the children.
Our motto is “We Serve”. This club has always taken that motto seriously. But the difference between our club and others is that we do things a little different. We Serve with our friends and we make sure to have fun doing it. Lufkin Host Lions Club is special and it is only special because of all of you. Your dedication and hard work is what makes our Lions Club known around the world. I want to thank each of you for your commitment to this community and this club. We are truly changing lives with what we accomplish each year and I am proud to say that I get to serve with each of you.