By Kristen Miller
This year, the Darwin Lions Club is celebrating its 25th year as a service organization.
The club began in 1982 with 23 members. The president at the time was Al Luthens. There are five original charter members active in the club today, including Chris Hansen, Pat Hansen, Don Huhn, Mark Johnson, and Jim Reihle.
Although membership has gone up and down over the years, there are currently 35 members.
As the years progress, the Darwin Lions Club has added more service projects to its list.
On the global level, Lions Club International has launched Campaign SightFirst II to raise at least $150 million to prevent blindness around the world.
On a local level, the Darwin Lions Club contributes to some 20 groups a year including two $1,000 scholarships for Dassel-Cokato and Litchfield seniors, and cash donations to the Dassel Historical Society, and to locals in need.
“Every year, someone falls on hard times,” said Darwin Lions Club President Rick Molenaar.
The club has three major fundraisers, which generates the club’s income for the entire year.
During Darwin’s Twine Ball Day in August, the Lions Club runs a concession stand. In October, the club hosts a Texas Hold ‘em night at the Darwin Rod and Gun Club, and in January is the club’s Stag Night, where the gentlemen play poker and enjoy a prime rib dinner.
Molenaar, having been in several service organizations in other states, says this is the best club he’s been a part of.
“I’ve never seen a club that runs this well,” he said.
“It’s a good group of people . . . really functional,” he added.
“It’s the kind of club not many assignments need to be made, everyone just shows up and works,” Molenaar said.
The group meets the first Monday of the month at the Darwin Rod and Gun Club; social hour is at 6 p.m., dinner at 7 p.m., and the meeting following from 8 to 9 p.m.
There is no criteria to become a member and one doesn’t need to live in the Darwin area.
“It’s just a fun group to get together with monthly. We have a lot of fun,” Chris Hansen said.
The major reason a person would join a volunteer service organization is the desire to serve and help people in need, Molenaar said.
To join the Darwin Lions Club, all one has to do is come to a monthly meeting or contact one of its members.
The group also has a good age span, Molenaar said, with ages ranging from 25 to 75.
“There is just a lot of fellowship. When we do a project, everyone pitches in,” Hansen said.
In honor of the club’s 25th anniversary, District Governor Deb Harms, of Dassel, will be speaking at the April 7 meeting. Local clubs are welcome. The district includes Cosmos, Cedar Mills, Litchfield, Kingston, and Darwin.
Also, the club has a collection of pins from throughout the years. Currently, the club is having a 25th anniversary pin made.
For more information about the Darwin Lions Club, contact Rick Molenaar at (320) 275-9968.