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Lions hold installation, awards banquet


Tue, Jun 14th 2022 11:30 am

The Grand Island Lions Club held its Installation and awards banquet at the Buffalo Launch Club on Wednesday, June 8. Past District Gov. Lion Jeff Jarvis installed the board of directors for the 2022-23 year.

Pictured, from left, are Lions Jarvis, Dick Crawford (president), Anne Fahning and Tom Rusert (directors), Jim Ryan (corresponding secretary), Paul Bassette (director), Tom Witkowski (treasurer), Donna Lavallee (recording secretary) and Kelly McGarvey (first vice president). Not present: Lions Second Vice President Shelia Ferrentino, Director Henry Lobl and Lion Tamer/ Tail Twisters Ashley and Tom Digati.

The Lions also gave out various awards. Lions outgoing President Paul Krupa received The Robert J. Uplinger Distinguished Service Award. Established in 1993, the award honors outstanding Lions and non-Lions or organizations who perform exemplary service to a club, district or community. These honorees possess the highest examples of Lionistic character, ideals, purpose and service. Over his 25-year career, Lion Paul served two clubs in New York state, was Grand Island club president twice, and served on many committees and programs.

Lion Tom Rusert and community leader and former Town of Grand Island Supervisor Mary Cooke received The Lions Club International Foundation Melvin Jones Award. The is the LCIF’s highest honor and is given to a lion’s member or citizen for outstanding humanitarian service.

Rusert is a long-time club member and former club president who has, during his 24 years of service, spearheaded Lions donations to the Neighbors Foundation, collecting many thousands of dollars’ worth of food and donations over the years. He is instrumental in growing the club as membership chairman, bringing in new members on a regular basis. Rusert has maintained a key role with the Lions Special Kids Picnic, using his boat to give children the thrill of a ride. He also is one of the chief cooks at the Lions Spaghetti Dinner.

Cooke is a longtime community leader who has taught life and careers to many students, served as president of the library board, Relay For Life, and the Grand Island Historical Society. She is a former Grand Island councilwoman and town supervisor. Cooke is a lector at St. Stephen R.C. Church. She has volunteered at Trinity United Methodist Church's clothing store and helps with many clothing drives.

Grand Island’s Mary Cooke displays her Melvin Jones Award. Seen with her are Lion Paul Bassette (left) and Lion Tom Witkowski.

Awards Chairman Lion Paul Bassette (left) and Lion Dave Chervinsky stand with Robert J. Uplinger recipient Lion Paul Krupa at the Lions June 8 installation dinner.

Lion Tom Rusert holds his Melvin Jones Award at the Lions Club installation dinner. Past recipients with him are Lion Paul Bassette and Lion Anne Fahning.

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