Community joins in celebration
Article and Photos by Terry Duffy
Members of the Youngstown Lions celebrated the club’s 75 years of service to the northern Niagara community at a well-attended affair held last month in the Youngstown firehall.
Chaired by Youngstown Lions Nancy and Arthur Askins, the evening included dinner, a range of musical entertainment recalling the past 75 years, fellowship and more. Visitors were treated to a look-back to the decade of the 1940s when the club was founded.
“I want to share a couple of things with you that started in 1948,” Nancy Askins said as she went through a list of famous names, organizations and notable events from that decade. Each one – herself, included – is marking 75 years in 2023. The list included former Vice President Al Gore, comedian Billy Crystal, Britain’s King Charles III, the entire state of Israel, the very first “Ed Sullivan Show,” and the memorable 1948 presidential election.
“And on Aug. 17 of 1948, the Youngstown Lions Club was born,” she continued, recalling the founding of this club, originally sponsored by the Wilson Lions Club.
Lion Kyle Heath of KeyBank served as master of ceremonies and guided visitors through times in the village when the club was founded.
“Seventy-five years ago. Just consider what our Village of Youngstown was like in 1948,” he said. “Soldiers had just returned home from World War II and the baby-boom generation was just in its second year. And a committed group of citizens in our community got together and decided to join Lions International and create the Youngstown Lions Club.”
Heath spoke of the club’s founders – Lions Ted Bliss, and Kenneth Comerford and Stuart Comerford Sr. – “ancestors” to current Lion First Vice President Stuart Comerford. Heath noted the many contributions by the Youngstown Lions over the years – the creation of Lions Park, involvement with Youngstown Boy Scout and Cub Scout troops, a presence in community parades, work on local fundraising projects, and work on vision and hearing services for children in Lewiston-Porter-area elementary schools.
State Sen. Rob Ortt presents a proclamation to Lions President Lois Kaminski.
Lions Vice President Stuart Comerford and President Lois Kaminski address visitors.
The evening featured a proclamation offered by State Sen. Rob Ortt to Lions President Lois Kaminski, and testimonials from Niagara County legislators Rebecca Wydysh and Irene Myers recognizing the Lions service to over the years. It continued with more recollections of decades past and the work of the Lions in the community in visual displays.
“It shows you that everybody is watching, which is really kind of nice,” Heath said. “It’s the least that we all can do from the outside to honor your service to the community.”
The evening featured an e-card basket raffle, silent auction, raffles and door prizes for the nearly 100 visitors who were in attendance.
“We were so happy that Lions from many other clubs throughout our district attended and helped make the evening special by the presence,” the Youngstown Lions commented in a word of thanks to the community.