Lititz Lionesses call it a day

By on August 8, 2018

The roar of a lady Lion has been silenced. At least for now.

Citing low participation, the Lititz Lioness Club has disbanded after 36 years.

“Our main mission was to serve those less fortunate, and the Lititz Lioness Club did that well for the last 36 years,” says Kathy Ridder, who served as Past District Governor of District 14D (Lancaster and Lebanon counties), and Lioness Coordinator for the District Lioness Clubs. In the beginning, certification night was held on May 27, 1982 at the General Sutter Hotel. Twenty five charter members were in attendance. Officers of the-then newly formed club were Linda Troutman (President), Helen Lauderman (Vice President), Helen Jane Kopp (Secretary), and Linda Kahler (Treasurer).

The majority of the members also had husbands who were Lititz Lions.

Lionesses Deb Olsen (left) and Diane Coffey during ‘sunnier’ times for the organization.

When the Lititz club ceased in June, there were 4 active charter members: Evie Hackman, Leota Miller, Kathy Ridder, and Evelyn Schreiber. Two honorary charter members were Liz Brown and Dot Weit. Lioness Clubs are sponsored by a Lions Club; but work independently doing their own projects and fundraising.

“We did, at times, help the Lititz Lions during the annual Halloween Parade and the 4th of July events,” said Ridder. According to Ridder, there are approx. 50 Lioness clubs left in Pennsylvania. Due to women being accepted in Lions Clubs, as of 1987, Lionesses were dropped by Lions International in hopes that they would become Lions. Pennsylvania State Lions still recognize & support Lioness Clubs.

“For many years, we did eye screenings in local day care centers, and sent many local children to the PA Lions supported Beacon Lodge Camp For the Blind in Mount Union,” Ridder said.

“I feel sad that it’s history,” she added. “I’ve had years of fellowship with some great women. Lioness clubs were not started to be a social club &tstr; we were a civic organization, however we had many wonderful moments and times as we worked alongside each other as we served those less fortunate.”

Several years ago, the Lionesses also joined forces with similar clubs in their district to purchase a piece of equipment for the Neonatal Unit of Hershey Medical. Ridder stated that “We have also given locally to the fire departments, the local library, Schreiber Pediatric, Community Chest, Clare House, sponsored a girls softball team, found local families to help at Christmas time, and of course held food drives.

Lady Lionesses gathered a short time ago for a breakfast. They are (standing, left to right: Diane Coffey, Jill Oehme. (Seated, left to right): Judy Matarazzo, Estelene Ladd, Dot Rosenquist.

Through the years, they also gave to their district causes such diabetes awareness, Leader Dog for the Blind, Northeast Pa. Lions Eye Bank, Pa. Lions Hearing Research Foundation, Pa. Lions Sight Conservation, Pa. Lions For Dog Guides, Vision Corp/Lebanon Co. Sight & the Helen Keller Fund. They also contributed to Project New Hope, a camp weekend for Pennsylvania disabled veterans and their families at Beacon Lodge Camp. The Lititz Lionesses also held various fundraisers throughout the years including appraisal fairs, serving root beer floats at the Rotary Craft Show, trips to New York City, and a food wagon that they took to the Lititz Springs Park.

In recent years, they also held “Rock-A-Thons” at various places, and had great success with fashion shows held at the Eden Resort in Lancaster for the past 15 years. Monies that remained was divided between Leader Dog, Training Dogs for Vets with PTSD, and the local food bank. The Lionesses also gave a $1,000 scholarship to a graduate of Warwick High School who has a visual impairment, for continued education.

Diane Coffey of Lititz was a Lititz Lioness for six years, and is proud of the time she served.

“I wanted to give back to the community, as well as honor my grandfather, who became blind in the last years of his life.” The fashion show and root beer float stand on main street during the yearly Craft Show were her personal favorite fundraisers.

“Our first meeting was at the American Legion on North Broad Street, in one of the storage rooms,” recalls charter member Evelyn Schreiber of Lititz.

“We met at about seven different places through the life of the organization. Our first sale was a bake sale. We also held an antique show. We worked hard, but we had alot of fun.”
When asked to reflect on the past 36 years, Schreiber found alot of value in meeting and getting to know the other members of the organization. That’s what she’ll miss the most.

“Meeting people and making friends,” she said. “We made an awful lot of friends.” Schreiber notes that it was the decline in participation that ultimately led the Lititz Lionesses to their demise.

“Some of us were officers, and the young people helped, but were alot less active. I guess that’s the way the times are right now.”

“I think there is a worldwide decline of joining service organizations,” Coffey added. “These days, it’s alot harder to recruit members.  I think one of the best things you can do in your life is give back through service. I strongly encourage everyone to get involved. It’s alot of fun, you meet great people, and get the satisfaction of doing something worthwhile.”

Coffey became vice president after being a member of the club after only one year. The next year, she became president.

“Over the years we have accomplished a great deal and spread goodwill,” Ridder added. “It was a good run. We are so proud to have made a contribution to those less fortunate.”

Cory Van Brookhoven is a staff writer for the Lititz Record Express. He welcomes your comments at cvanbrookhoven@lnpnews.com or 717-721-4423. 

One Comment

  1. Brenda

    August 9, 2018 at 4:43 pm

    Lovely article about truly good people. Need more of this. Glad to know Lions accept women now.

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