Willow Springs Lions Club History

In 1954, seven civic and service minded Willow Springs men, Earl Marshall, Jim Hanlon, Ernest Kaminski, Leonard Coombes, Dr.T. Benton, Albert Pankow and Myron Gabbert  met with Lion George Belle of the LaGrange Lions Club and Lion Hank Friberg of the Lions of Illinois to sponsor a Lions Club in Willow Springs.

TheWillow Springs Lions Club, with thirty nine members present (including one who is still active on today ) held the organizational meeting on April 27, 1954, in the basement of the Willow Springs School, and selected officers. The Charter President was Ernest C. Kaminski with Henry L. Rieckhoff  Secretary. The District Governor was Lion Walter Ginther of the Lyons Lions Club.

Meetings where held at the Willow Springs School for the first three months and then the Presbyterian Church, where ladies of the church prepared and served meals. Later meetings were held at Kegl's until that popular restaurant was sold in 1989. Meetings then were held at various locations while the Club endeavored to locate a satisfactory meeting place. Meetings are currently held at the Bonnie's Dining & Banquets (October through January) and Greco's (February through May) and the Spring Forest Pavilion (June through September).

Since it was organized, the club has been the most active organization in the Village,and taken on many local projects, while always supporting the goals, services and other programs of the District, Lions of Illinois, and International Association of Lions Clubs. There has been a Willow Springs Lion on the District Cabinet every year since 1958. seven have served as Zone Chairman, four as Regional Chairman, three as Cabinet Secretary, and two as District Governor (Lion Wilbur A. Woeslaw 1970-1971 and Lion Michael J. Smigielski 1992-1993).

The Club has sponsored a "Hospitality Room" at every  District 1-A Convention since it was chartered in 1954. The Club has also sponsored three other Lions Clubs  the South Stickney Lions Club, the Bridgeview Lions Club and the Justice Lions Club. In 1985 the  Club sponsored the Willow Springs Lioness Club, one of the most active  Lioness Clubs in District 1-A.

Willow Springs Lions Park was the first community project of the Club. In 1955 the Club secured permission from the District 108 School Board to improve the land for use as a ball park and play ground. The Club proceeded to accelerate improvement of the property into what is now Lions Park. The Club was one of the main sponsors of the 1967 Diamond Jubilee and the 1992 Centennial Celebration of the Village of Willow Springs.

The Club provides humanitarian services throughout the community by furnishing eye examinations, eye glasses, hearing aids, food baskets, and other needs of the less fortunate citizens. The Club supported local schools with their summer programs, and provided the schools with sight testing equipment, audio-visual equipment, public address systems, outdoor basketball courts, playground equipment, personal computers and drug education programs. 

The D.A.R.E. Program, a drug awareness program for younger children has been sponsored since 1987. These service activities have been made possible by the dedication and work of the members during fund raising events. The Club supports and/or sponsors the following organizations: Scouts, Little League Baseball Teams, Drug Camp , Bicycle Safety , Scholarships and the Leadership Development Program at the University of Illinois.

The Club has purchased the "Stars & Stripes" and the members work to have then displayed on the main thoroughfares of the Village on holidays as well as other special occasions.

Club members  are true Lions, giving of their time and effort with genuine enthusiasm to live up to the motto: "WE SERVE".



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.

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