The Lions Club of Northampton, sponsored by the Holyoke Lions Club, was organized on March 16, 1936 with 18 charter members. The first charter meeting of the Northampton Lions was held on April, 9 1936.
Our membership stands at about 50 members. Our new and old members have worked tirelessly to support local, statewide and international projects that are committed to improving the health, safety and well being of the residents of Northampton, the state of Massachusetts and the world. Some of our current members have been with us for more than 50 years.
Some of our past fundraising activities include light bulb sales, snowmobile races, circuses, flea markets and antique shows, vaudeville and musical shows, air shows and the famous Game Dinner prepared and served by our great Lion chefs. Current fundraising activities include our Ski/Skate sale, our classic antique car show in September, our popular $100 raffle, can and bottle recycling, and our well-known Northampton Lions food booth serving up the best french fries in the area.
Over the past 77 years, the Northampton Lions Club has contributed over $1,000,000 to more than 90 projects and charitable organizations. Some of the more significant local projects include building the Maine’s Field Pavilion and the Children’s Safety Village. We were a major contributor to the Look Park Visitors Center. We contributed over $49,000 for the Northampton High School auditorium renovation. We have purchased equipment and made donations to the Clarke School for the Deaf, the Peoples Institute, Cooley Dickinson Hospital, Habitat for Humanity, the Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society, the Survival Center, the Northampton Senior Center and the Recreation Department. We have sponsored the Soap Box Derby and we annually sponsor Northampton youth organizations, including the Little Leagues and Scouts. Each summer we conduct the Kids Photo ID Program at the Safety Village in conjunction with the Northampton Recreation Department Summer Program. Recently we improved safety in Northampton with the purchase of more than 15 pedestrian safety crosswalk signs. We also provide eye examinations and glasses for people in need.
On the district and state levels, some of our major contributions go to the Massachusetts Lions Eye Research Fund, District 33Y Emergency Sight & Hearing Fund, the District 33Y EyeMobile, and Project New Hope. On the international level, we contribute to the Lions Club International Foundation and we have collected thousands of recycled eyeglasses that are sent to third world countries.
All the money we donate is earned by the effort and labor of our individual members giving their time in the spirit of community volunteerism. In addition to the hard work, members have had a lot of fun also with such events as mystery ride dinners, Lion’s Son and Daughter Family Night, holiday dinner parties, and a great summer family picnic.
The Northampton Lions sponsored the Easthampton Lions Club on March 23, 1943; and the Hatfield Lions Club on February 10, 1945. More recently, our club sponsored the UMASS Lions Club in 2009, and started the Amherst Branch Club in 2010 which recently chartered as an indepentdent Lions Club.
We are proud of our accomplishments and have received many awards for our efforts. We have been named the Best Large Club in District 33Y many times, and in 2009 - 2010, were named Best Large Lions Club in Massachusetts. The members of our club are truly “Dedicated to serving today for a better tomorrow.”
Maryann Bankman and Larry Whalen
Lions Clubs International is the world's largest service club organization with more than 1.4 million members in approximately 46,000 clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas around the world.