Millis Lions Celebrate 75 Years as a Club

J.D. O’Gara
The Millis Lions Club has pledged all the money from its bottles and can shed at Millis Transfer Station to “make Millis a better place a nickel at a time.” At 75 years old, the club has funded many community service projects as well as state-level and international-level Lions Club causes. Photo used courtesy of Millis Lions Club.
Issue Date: 
April, 2020
Article Body: 

The party might have been postponed, but the birthday still took place. This year, the Millis Lions Club, along with neighboring Medfield Lions and Franklin Lions, turned 75 years old. (You might have noticed that big banner across Main Street.)
“Medfield sponsored us,” says immediate past District Governor for District 33K Massachusetts Lions and Millis Lion Debbie Hayes, who now sits on the District 33K board of directors. “In December of 1944, Medfield became a club, and in February of 1945, we became a club,” she explains. All three clubs were scheduled in late March to get together for a big birthday celebration at the German Club in Walpole, but due to Coronavirus social distancing measures, the event has been postponed.
Still, to celebrate, the Millis Lions Club is giving a gift to the town.
“In 1984, the year preceding the centennial for Millis, the Millis Lions purchased the town message board, in front of Town Hall, and gave it as a gift to the Town. In celebration of our 75th anniversary, we’re changing it to a digital electronic board,” says Hayes.
“It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done, in terms of volunteering,” says Hayes, of being a Lion. “For me personally, I love being able to give back to the community. It’s not a drinking club. It’s not a social club. We come together to improve the health and welfare of our community, and no one expects anything in return.” Memorable events for Hayes include helping a local boy going through chemotherapy with simple activity bags that gave him something to do during treatments, the Millis Lions building a wheelchair ramp for a young man who’d experienced an accident, and helping a local man get an eye appointment, which subsequently involved him in research that would save his vision from a tumor.
Founded in 1917, Lions Club International is best known for fighting blindness. The organization funds eye research, conduct vision screenings, equips hospitals and clinics, distributes medicine and raises awareness of eye disease. All Lions work toward their mission of providing vision for all and ending preventable blindness in our lifetime.
Hayes explains that many Lions are trained to use equipment called a spot camera, that screens elementary school children.
The Lions of Massachusetts, through the Massachusetts Eye Research Fund, are funding and supporting conceptual, cutting-edge vision technologies being developed in Boston hospital and academic research labs.
The group is also committed to serving youth through scholarships, recreation and mentoring, and since 1968, the Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) has awarded more than $1 billion in grants to support Lions humanitarian projects around the world.
The Millis Lions have continued in the spirit of the Lions’ motto “We Serve.” It pledges its Bottle & Can money “to make Millis a better place a nickel at a time.” Service projects the Millis Lions have done over the years, include, according to Hayes and longtime Millis Lion Steve Campbell:
• Built Bridges on the Life Course
• Annual Don Reynolds Beautification Day (cancelled due to Covid-19), conducted with the Millis Garden Club
• Rebuilt the Little League Dug Out and Bleachers
• Rebuilt the Band Stand (twice)
• Built Warming Hut at Richardson's Pond
• Wheelchair Ramp at St. Thomas Hall
• Paid to move the Scout House to Oak Grove Farm (later arsonist destroyed)
• Paid 10% of the cost of three Millis Playgrounds
• Paid for Repairs to the Oak Grove Farm House (Historic Commission)
• Built and maintain the "Town Sign" as our gift for the Centennial (Funded by "Game of Millis")
• Donated a large TV for Senior Center
• Funded Town's Share of First Two Senior/Wheelchair-accessible Vans (Bottle & Can)
• Donated an Automatic Blood Pressure Monitor for the Ambulance (Bottle& Can)
• Donated a Defibrillator for Ambulance (Bottle & Can)
• Donated 50% of cost for 1st Millis HAZMAT collection
• Donated a computer for Fire Dept. (for Hydrant Data)
• Donated the first computer for the Library, so they could join Minute Man Consortiums
• Funded the Miss Millis preliminary Scholarship Pageant – Debbie O Brien went on to be 1st Runner Up in Atlantic City (highest any one from Massachusetts has ever achieved)
• Made a large Donation to new Library
• Rebuilt the back deck for the Millis American Legion after it collapsed from snow
• Provide eye screenings and eyeglasses to children in need through Millis Schools, and to seniors in need through Millis Council on Aging
• Warren Jordan scholarship to Millis High School seniors
• Melvin Jones Fellows – We probably have more than any club in the District, perhaps in the State
• Built a new animal shelter at the Millis Transfer Station to celebrate Lions’ Club International’s 100th year
• Provided Senior Citizen Christmas Parties for 50 years (everyone 60 or older in town is sent an invitation, for a great Multi-course dinner by the best Lion's cooks in multiple 33K towns)
Members of the Millis Lions Club have also enjoyed camaraderie over the years. As a group, some of the bonding experiences, according to Campbell, include
• Many POOPP's (perpetual order of past presidents) Parties from Clam Bakes to Corned Beef & Cabbage. paid for by the Past Presidents (We’re not above you)
• Bus Trip to Boston Pop’s
• Bus Trip to George’s Island in Boston Harbor
• Roasts: Doug Anderson, Sumner Fierman, DG Bill Schoellkopf at his Testimonial
• District Governors Regatta – Canoe Race on the Charles to launch District Governor’s Year. DG reviewed on the Barge at the South Natick Finish Line. The event saw many District Participants
• Millis Centennial 1984/1985 – Built 3 Floats, Sponsored Pipe & Drum, Had 75 country flags in parade (from International). Many district Lions participated, with a cookout following at 1313 Main St.
• Softball games and cookouts with Firefighters.
• Meetings had SPUNK Magician @ Kids Nite, Under Cover Wear, done tastefully, Ugly Tie Contests
• 50th Anniversary Party – theme was WWII, as the Millis Club was chartered while the Battle of the Bulge was happening.
Membership in the Millis Lions Club is by invitation from a local club member. You can learn more by calling (508) 376-0155 and asking for Deb. After an initiation fee of $35, annual dues are $100, and meetings are held on the first Tuesday of the month at 6:30 p.m., September through June.
For more information, visit the newly revamped website