Puyallup Lion’s Club

L to R, Brian O’Bannon, IT Chair; John Budzak Jr, Secretary; Kent Sharpe, Tale Twister; and Mikel Pardue, President

Puyallup Lion’s Club, a service organization to the community, performs various activities; ranging from feeding the homeless monthly and senior pancake breakfasts to year round holiday events, such as: Christmas tree sales and an Easter Egg hunt for the community children. John Budzak Junior, Secretary of the Puyallup Lion’s for 20 years, and in the club for 32 years, and participating explained how he joined the club, “Second generation (dad was involved) been a lion since old enough to walk. It’s been a part of my life as long as I’ve been around.”

John explained the history and purpose of the club, “We became a club in April of 1954 (Lion’s Club in Puyallup). Lion’s Club started out with 30 business men in 1954, women were able to join in late 80’s. Lion’s Club International started in 1917 by Chicago business men named “Melvin Jones.” In 1921, Helen Keller challenged the Lion’s Club to be knights of the blind and that’s when Lion started with sight and hearing. We’re an international organization 1.38 million members worldwide in 206 countries would be a graphical location. Lion’s Goals internationally: cure preventable blindness. Locally the Puyallup Lions has done a lot in the community…provide five scholarships (high school) every year, we average 20 pairs of eyeglasses (we provide people with eye exam and eyeglasses) four hearing aids a year, we work with the special Olympics; last year we vision screened 325 special Olympic athletes and provided 153 pairs of eyeglasses and 100 pairs of sunglasses to the athletes. We built the original baseball fields at Wildwood Park. We built [a] restroom concession stand at Spark’s Stadium in downtown Puyallup. We have also provided equipment for Good Samaritan hospital…they have a slit machine and it allows them to look in eyes and remove foreign matter from the eyes.  We have picked up the corneas from the emergency room and took to UW and gotten from bus station to someone to have a cornea transplant.”

Aside from the monthly feeding of the homeless and senior pancake breakfast, John provided details on the club’s other events, “Our major fundraiser is the Christmas tree sale and we also have the poker run in early summer as a fundraiser. [The club also] adopts a family for Christmas and Thanksgiving and [organize an] Easter egg hunt for the local community children…also provide back packs/school supplies for kids that can’t afford it. We also have a camp for children with diabetes (Camp Leo). The project I like the most is Project New Hope because it helps our returning Veteran’s that have post traumatic stress and dealing with families a weekend to get together and talk to counselors. That’s a great project.”

When asked what he thought of the Lion’s Club, John replied, “I was blessed with not having many needs when I was younger and this gives me the opportunity to give back to the community that’s why I’m a Lion; bottom line.” John explained the best thing about the Lion’s Club, “The best thing that ever happened in Lion’s Club, I met the person who I delivered the corneas to at the hospital and I gave him his gift of sight back, best thing that’s ever happened in Lion’s Club.” When asked who he recommends join the club, John responded, “Anyone that wants to give back to the community and we’re willing to take don’t have to donate a lot of time, whatever you can give, we take. Any money we that we take from the community, 100% of that has to go back into the community. We can’t take money out to run our club. That’s different than other service organizations.”

Brian O’Bannon, IT Chair and member of the club for six years, expressed what he thought of the club, “It’s the greatest organization that I’ve ever been a part of. The nicest people I’ve ever met. It’s the commodore and giving back to the community.” Brian explained how he joined, “I grew up knowing his father in law [Brian points to John] and a number of others through my church and known lion’s all my life and about six years ago and after work had a lot of time on my hands and asked about joining the lion’s club and they welcomed gladly.”

Brian described the best thing about the Lion’s Club, “I guess for me the homeless feed every month because they always are so happy to see us there and it’s a good feeling to be able to help people that can’t do it for themselves.”

Who Brian recommends join the club, “Anyone that wants to help out their community whether it’s here in Puyallup or here around there’s lion’s club’s all over there’s three in Puyallup.”

Mikel Pardue, President of the club, and member of the club for four years, explained how he joined the club, “A friend of mine brought me to one of the meetings and showed me and very impressed and intrigued by the charities going on.” He expressed what he thought of the club, “I think it’s a great organization that gives back to the community and gives you a chance to contribute to your community. No matter how busy you are, there’s always time to give back to the community.”

Mikel described the best thing about the Lion’s Club, “It’s just that a chance to give back to the community in whatever you can. There’s no set standard to what you give back and gives you that opportunity to do that.”

Although Mikel seemed to agree with everyone else…he recommends anyone for the club that wants to give back to their community, when asked if he recommends his family and friends to join, Mikel replied, “Yes, because of service and giving back to community. Everyone’s busy, but doesn’t matter; you can participate when you have the time and what you want to participate in. I think that’s the reason why I recommend [all] people, it doesn’t matter how much you give, and it’s whatever you want to give. You join you’re part of the organization and want to participate you can.”

Kent Sharpe, Tale Twister (provide fun and fellowship at the meetings), has been a member of the club for eight years. Kent explained, “I joined when a couple friends asked me over and over and the reason I joined because I wanted to give back to my community. I’ve been fortunate enough that I don’t need services of the Lion’s Club, but many friends that did and wanted them to know that I could provide help to.”

Kent expressed what he thought of the club, “I think it’s a good oriented organization; it’s a humble organization.” For Kent, the best thing about the club, “The commodore, the ability to give back to my community, different avenues I wouldn’t have on my own.”

When asked who Kent recommends to join the Lion’s Club, he replied, “Anybody who wants to give back to their communities, who wants to support their communities and not just give back to community, a  sense of friendship and commodore.” Kent recommends his family and friends to join the club, “Yes, because I would hope that they would get the same satisfaction.”

Note to all organizations from John, “Any organizations that wants our assistance are more than welcome to give presentation and listen and then donate (ex. Several different charities) we bought Spanish English dictionaries to take to a school in Mexico and an examination table for doctors who were going to Peru. We recycle eyeglasses and those eyeglasses and go to missions [i.e. humanitarian efforts] overseas and fit people with eyeglasses and provide eyeglasses for people in third world countries. We clean them, check to see if the prescription (is accurate using a lensometer) and then mark the prescription on a piece of paper and put in a baggie and box them and ready for someone that needs them to go on a mission. Lion’s Club International has a foundation they have built hospitals in third world countries. They also provide are working to cure preventable blindness and some of these are as easy as providing a 75 cent vitamin A pill.”

Both things all interviewees agreed on, is that the Puyallup Lion’s club is a hands on service organization and that anybody that wants to provide Lion’s Club service in their community should join. Kent commented, “Just to follow along with our motto, “We serve.” Mikel concluded, “Service is everyone’s responsibility.”