Meetings
LION GARY'S 80TH CHARTER PARTY SPEECH
 
Happy 80th Birthday Caldwell Lions and welcome guests, friends and fellow Lions. Lion Boyd Henry was the historian of our club and I am kind of the story teller for this evening’s program.
 
I first came in contact with the Lions in the late 70s after Ginger and I had opened our law Office in Middleton. I am not sure whether it was the Parma Lions Club or the Caldwell Lions Club wanted to help start a Club in Middleton and approached me about joining the proposed Middleton Club. I told them I certainly supported all of the charitable activities they carried out but I could not join because women could not be full pledged members and my Law Partner was a woman, the Mayor of Middleton was a woman, the owner of the restaurant was a woman and the broker and owner of one the Real Estate Firms in Middleton was a woman.   When I was approached about becoming a Caldwell Lion my sponsor was a woman. Our 80th  birthday pin reflects those changes.
 
Lion Estella and I designed the 70th birthday pin with the idea that it commemorated the great relationship we have with the Caldwell Night Rodeo and how it facilitated our fund raising for the benefit of our community. When Estella and I volunteered to work on this years pin we met and thought about what this year’s pin’s message should be. We knew that the Lions sight and hearing mission should be part of it. The other thing we agreed upon was that we were very proud of how diverse the Caldwell Lions Club membership was and how diverse our community was and how important our youth were to the community. By being diverse I do not mean that we are tolerant of each other but rather that we accept each person for who they are. Thus the 80th birthday pin.  
 
When I did join the Caldwell Lions Club there  was such a wealth of very experienced veteran lions, such as Wally Decker, Mark Johansen, Floyd Rhoades, Boyd Henry ,Joe Berenter, Roger Anderson, Ben Anderson, Marion Whipple, Ken Hestead, Crusty Hammon, Dottie Hammon, Rex Langley, Loren Honstead and Gene “where are you” Betts.
 
One of the first projects I was involved in was the decorating of The Caldwell Lions Christmas Tree to be donated to the Festival of Trees to benefit Nampa & Caldwell Meals on Wheels. I wasn’t much of a decorator but I did learn how to haul a fully decorated Christmas tree from Caldwell to the Nampa Civic Center in my enclosed horse trailer with only a minimal loss of decorations. As the years went on we ultimately decided that for the time, effort and money that went into decorating a tree that our monies could be better spent by becoming a Major Sponsor of the Festival of Trees and making a $1500 donation.
 
The next program I became involved with was the Caldwell Lions participation in the annual Caldwell Christmas Parade. The procedure for that was that we would find a truck & trailer and a shop where we could work on the float. We would dig out the box of decorations from whomever’s garage had the misfortune of taking them home the year before. We spend about two hours prepping the trailer the night before the parade and another 15 minutes doing touch up the morning of the Parade and getting the boxes of candy on the float. We could never understand why we did not get any awards for our floats.
 
The Caldwell Christmas parade developed into the Caldwell Nite Light Parade. The Caldwell Lions now spend a lot of time and effort in building their Nite Light float and have actually won an award in what has become one of Caldwell’s quality events. Lion Valden has been the Chair of this particular project for the last couple of years and he is so devoted to this project that he donated his wife Valerie to the float one year. The Caldwell Lions the last two years have also sold hot dogs, and hot chocolate and coffee on the parade route and donated the proceeds to the Salvation Army. The only problem we had the first year was that all the mustards froze and made for a very crunchy hot dog with mustard cubes.  
 
Christmas is a busy time for us as we now compete with other service organizations in the Salvation Army Bell Ringing contest with Lion Spenser providing live entertainment singing Christmas Carols. We normally have a food Drive for the Salvation Army at our December and November meetings and participate in their Angel Tree toy drive.
 
The Caldwell Lions have consistently encouraged the youth of the Caldwell area to participate in the Peace Poster Contest and Patriotism Essay Contest. We invite the winners, their parents and their teachers to have lunch with us & to receive their rewards. A number of our winners have gone on to win the Multiple District and earn a trip to the opera house in Sun Valley. One of the winners of the Peace Poster Contest, Alex Free, designed our eighty year pin based on the message we wanted conveyed.
 
Every spring and fall we gather for our highway cleanup project on two miles of Hwy 20 with each member being able to keep any really unique item they might find and we have found some really unique items that cannot necessarily be described here and were not kept by the finder. We have cooked breakfast for the Heap Herder’s car show the last two springs.
 
We diligently pursue our sight and hearing mission providing vision screening in the schools when requested and numerous health fairs. We purchased over $6500 glasses during the 09-10 Lion year and made substantial donations to the Idaho/Oregon Sight and hearing foundation. We made sure Caldwellites were on time by donating a beautiful clock to the City of Caldwell that sits next to the Indian Creek Restoration Project. We donated $20,000 to the Caldwell YMCA and continue to make donations to their strong Kids program. During the 09-10 Lion year we gave
more than $4,100 in donations to other civic projects.  This year we are again donating monies for new glasses, $500 toward the purchase of a piano at Caldwell High School, and donated $650 for a mentor in the Caldwell School District
 
How do we fund these activities? Lion Patricia Benedict with assistance of the other Caldwell Lions and our friends and family have turned our annual yard sale into major fund raiser.   We all turn into Pack Rats starting in early May packing various used treasures to storage & culminating at our weekend sale in June.
 
 
For our largest fund raising effort to we have to thank those that came before us. Those who set up and took down the two stands (one the alcohol free stand and the other the free alcohol stand) at the old fair and rodeo grounds. Those that reached into the cold vats to retrieve the bottles of pop and take the caps off. Those that came before us that reached an agreement with another nonprofit organization to assist each other for the benefit of each other. We in the Caldwell Lions Club have had an opportunity to raise funds that very few other Lions Clubs have. That has been through our association with the Caldwell Night Rodeo.   When the Rodeo moved to its present location it allowed the civic organizations of Caldwell to move with it and build our permanent structures.
 
We enjoy the 4th of July with friends and family and then start getting ready to the open the Hamburger Stand for the Canyon County Fair & Festival for four days the last week of July. The Caldwell Lions have only opened for the Fair for a little over ten years. It took a number of years of negotiation between the Fair Board, the Rodeo Board and the Caldwell Lions Club regarding opening for the Fair. A number of negotiators came and went on all sides and finally the right combination of negotiators got to together and we opened.  The Caldwell Lions Club and the Fair Board and Staff have a great relationship. The Fair is just kind of a warm up to the coming main event.   We just get the booth shutdown and cleaned up from the Fair and we start gearing up for our 7 day run the third week in August at the Caldwell Night Rodeo. That week is like no other week with every member in the Club and friends and family pitching in.   Our favorite song for that week is the National Anthem because it means the pre-rodeo rush will subside and we can briefly catch our breath until the next rush comes. During my years as a Lion we have constantly strived to deliver a better product as fast as possible. We made one change my wife, Ginger has never forgiven us for. We deleted corn dogs from our menu. So now I have to go buy one from the Jobs Daughters and take it home to her. Another year we decided to sell chicken tenders instead of finger steaks. That year I was waiting on this cowboy and he wanted an order of finger steaks and I said “I am sorry, we don’t have finger steaks this year but we do have chicken tenders.” His eyes kind flashed wide open and he turned and pointed to the arena and said to me “do you see any damn chickens out there”. We have sold only finger steaks since. 
 
This year on Wednesday Night during the prerodeo rush I was out with my Caldwell Lions apron on working the portable condiment tables that Lion Rex built for us a number of years before. The lines of people at the serving windows were backed up nearly to the arena fences.  I was cleaning the table and this lady that was fixing her hamburger up looked at me said “I have never seen any thing like this”. I thought maybe we he done something wrong so I ask her “what is that mam”? She said “I have never saw that many people work that well with each other at that speed.” It takes not only Lions & friends working on Rodeo nights but also those that come in the next morning and cleanup and get ready for the next night. Lion Gene and Lion Ruth work both nights and days ordering product and delivering it during the day and then cooking it and selling it at night. We breathe a collective sigh of relief when the windows come down on Saturday night.
 
Then we start all of these activities over again. Why ? Because we have an eighty year history of serving this community and hopefully we will have another eighty years of service.   Thank you all for coming and celebrating our Birthday and have a safe journey home.
 
 
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