Greater Ashland Lions Club Marks 25th Anniversary of Service

Deborah Burke Henderson, Contributing Writer
Humanitarian work benefiting the Ashland community and beyond
As part of Lions Clubs International “Legacy” Project, the Greater Ashland Lions Club chose to donate a steel bench which sits at the site of the Veterans Memorial at Wildwood Cemetery. (Photo/Deborah Burke Henderson)
Issue Date: 
June, 2018
Article Body: 

Later this month, members of the Greater Ashland Lions Club will celebrate 25 years of humanitarian work benefiting the Ashland community with a special celebratory event.
The June 23rd program will include the induction of officers for their new year of service, milestones and memorabilia covering the Club’s history and two significant “Melvin Jones” award presentations. These awards are named in honor of the Lions Clubs founder who, in 1917, challenged his business peers to better the world and established what has become the world’s largest service club organization.
Within three years, Lions became an international organization.
Greater Ashland Lions Club – Early History
In the late 70s, women could serve as Lioness volunteers by being members of the Lions Auxiliary. They supported their husbands’ community service work through any given Lions Club, including the Ashland Lions Club, but women had no voting ability.
In 1989, Lions Clubs International changed its policy and extended voting power to women. The existing Auxiliary groups and the “Lioness” term would be phased out.
Lioness Ellie Torelli approached her 40 fellow Lioness Club members serving Ashland to see if there was interest in starting a new club in the District. Most joined the Lions Club in their community, but nearly a dozen women agreed to establish a second club in town. Within the initial 60-day charter period, others were recruited.
The Greater Ashland Lions Club was chartered on June 21, 1993, with 45 members hailing from Ashland and several surrounding towns, thus the club’s moniker distinction of Greater Ashland.
“I served as charter president back in 1993 when our Club was first recognized,” Greater Ashland Lions Club President Ellie Torelli stated, “and I’ve enjoyed serving in the president’s role many times over the course of the Club’s history.”
“It was wonderful how we meshed together as a group,” Torelli recalled. “It was an uphill love all the time. People didn’t think we’d make it as a Club, but we did. We believed in what we were doing.”
As part of Lions Clubs International, members of the Greater Ashland Lions Club serve to better the community and raise funds to aid the blind and those who are visually impaired. That prime directive was set in place in 1917 when Helen Keller spoke before the Lions at convention and asked members to become “knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness.”
The Greater Ashland Lions Club is part of a larger network of 47 clubs throughout the Commonwealth and 46,000 clubs around the globe. All support the same purpose: We Serve.
Their mission is to empower volunteers to serve their communities, meet humanitarian needs, encourage peace and promote international understanding.
Local Humanitarian
Over this past quarter century, Greater Ashland Lions Club members have raised funds to fight blindness and diabetes though myriad events including meat shoots, duck races, golf ball drop events and “toll road” collection days.
Club members provide financial grants and scholarships to those in need, conduct blood drives, staff the Lions Club EyeMobile, collect winter coats for those without, serve hot meals to seniors and prepare and distribute freeze-dried meals for victims of national disasters.
They also encourage environmental awareness through tree seedling donations to young school children and sponsor peace poster and speech contests for youth.
“We’re all about making a difference,” Torelli added.
Club donations have helped fund the building of the Ashland Public Library, contributed toward the raising of the Town Clock in downtown Ashland and most recently, the Greater Ashland Lions Club unveiled its “Legacy” project – a steel bench seat with bronze dedication plaque that was gifted just last month to the Town of Ashland for the site of the Veterans Memorial at Wildwood Cemetery.
Membership by Invitation
Any adult interested in serving with the Greater Ashland Lions Club must be sponsored by an existing Club member. There is a modest $35 membership fee and annual dues are required.
New recruits are mentored throughout their first year of service, to ensure a full understanding of their duties and that their volunteer experience is meaningful. Members meet monthly to discuss, plan and evaluate community service projects.
Greater Ashland Lions Club members may be seen volunteering around town wearing dark purple shirts and jackets.
Since the late 1950s, Lions Clubs International has offered the “Leo Program” to youth of the world with an opportunity for personal development through volunteering.
For more information about the Lions Club, visit and for questions relating to the Greater Ashland Lions Club, contact Ellie Torelli, outgoing Lions president, at [email protected] or visit the Club’s booth at the Ashland Farmers Market