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Goodrich Lions: 50 years of community service

April 10, 2013 - Goodrich-Gordon Smith needed gas.

In the fall of 1962, local resident Emery Bennett was working at his Gulf Gas Station near the intersection of Hegel Road and M-15 when Smith pulled in for a fill-up.

"I noticed the credit card Smith used had a Lions Club of Michigan logo on it," said Bennett. "So Smith, who just happened to be the Lions Club State Secretary, asked if there was a (Lions) club in town and I replied, 'No, but maybe we should start one.'"

Bennett said he contacted the established, but dwindling, Goodrich Men's Club.

"We gathered at the Dog House (restaurant) not long after that," he said. "Six came to the first meeting, but within a few months we had 20 members signed up to be a Lion. By our first meeting in December 1962 we had the 25 needed for our Lions Club Charter."

On March 2, 1963 the Goodrich Lions Club established their charter during a ceremony at the high school.

To commemorate the 50 years of Goodrich Lions, a dinner will be held at 4:45 p.m., April 27 at the Goodrich United Methodist Church, 8071 S. State Road.

"Community work— that's what Lions are all about," said Bennett. "We participate in various Lions International projects including Leader Dogs for the Blind in Rochester and Michigan Eye Bank. Locally, we now have about 25 members and over the past years have focused on a host of projects and activities right here in Goodrich:

In addition to monthly meetings the Goodrich Lions Club has completed in numerous local projects including:

nChristmas trees. For more than 40 years the club has sold Christmas trees from their building on M-15.

nPond skate party. During the 1960s and 1970s the Lions hosted a skating party on the Goodrich Mill pond.

nThe Village Commons Park.

"At one time there were cattails six feet tall growing there alongside the Kearsley Creek," said Bennett. "It was swampy and very low with mosquitoes, so through a series of fundraisers we help haul in about 4,200 yards of sand to create the park. We also built the pavilion."

nVolunteer ambulance authority. In 1978 the Lions formed the volunteer ambulance and built the clubhouse on M-15 as a base for the service.

"There was a need for a local ambulance after Ortonville Funeral home owner Charly Sherman closed (his ambulance service)," he said. "We had 67 volunteers on call 24 hours per day, seven days per week. The first month we had 24 runs with the ambulance and provided the community with ambulance service until 1997."

nResodded baseball diamond and repaired backstop for benefit of summer baseball games.

nProvided trash barrels for use in village area.

nDowntown Christmas decorations. The Sunday after Thanksgiving for the past 35 years the Lions members have installed all the Christmas decorations in the downtown along Hegel Road and on M-15.

"At one point we used ladders to reach the high decorations," he said. "We have a bucket truck today, it's a good thing, too."

nTrees. Replaced about 18 evergreen trees and cleared out a lagoon to beautify an area in the Goodrich Cemetery.

nFlags. Provided American flags for display in the village—placed and removed flags on each special holiday and flag day.

nGoodrich Scholarships. The Lions provide three annual $1,000 scholarships for local high school students. In addition, funds for band and choir uniforms are also donated.

nSoccer fields. "The Oaktree Soccer fields (just off Gale Road) required plenty of manual labor along with donations," he said.

nChristmas baskets. In conjunction with the National Honor Society the Lions pack and deliver food baskets to the needy in the community.

From hosting a fundraiser chicken barbecue for about 300 to a three ring circus to helping form the Ortonville and Hadley Lions clubs—the Goodrich Lions continue to service the community.

"We have and will continue to support a lot of great causes over the years," said Bennett. "We have many fun events that include our spouses throughout the year. Men and women are welcome to become members and we are always looking for anyone willing to serve in our great organization."

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