OCEAN CITY – The Ocean City Lions Club has a long history to be proud of as members celebrate their 65th Anniversary this month.
On Nov. 30, 1931 the Berlin Lions Club merged with the Ocean City Lions Club and six years later the two clubs separated.
On May 14, 1947, 38 men became the first members of the Ocean City Lions Club. The charter group represented a cross-section of business and enterprise in the community and since that first day, the club has grown not only in the number of members, but in the number of organizations that benefit from its donations.
In the beginning, the club had many homes, starting out in the Adelphia Restaurant moving on to The Knotty Pine, City Lunch, Ships Café, Mario’s, and in the mid-60’s the club moved to its current location on Airport Road in West Ocean City where dinner meetings are held on the second and fourth Wednesday of every month.
According to member Norman Cathell, the club currently contains about 67 members with three scheduled to join in the near future.
Cathell joined the Ocean City Lion Club in 1972 and has served in all offices of the club. He was president in 1976-77 and during his presidency he received the 100% President Award, created the Ocean City Lioness Club and the Lion Club received five District Awards. He served as district governor in 1978-79.
Cathell has served as chairman of the Sight and Hearing Mobile Unit and chairman for the Ocean City Lioness Club, along with his wife Faye.
The Ocean City Lioness Club was established in 1977 as the first lioness club in District 22-B. The club has grown to reach around 60 members with five to be installed in June.
“They are very, very active,” Cathell said.
The Ocean City Lions and Lioness Club’s list of activities accomplished to benefit the community runs pages long.
Currently, the Ocean City Lions Club Charity Inc., which began about eight years ago, sponsors annual golf tournaments and raises an average of $20,000 per tournament.
“It has been getting better each year,” Cathell said.
All money raised from the golf tournaments goes to the Lions “Wounded Warriors” project, where over $179,000 and 19,000 items of clothing have been sent to help wounded troops in Germany.
“The purpose of that is for our wounded warriors from Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said. “Even now after Iraq has slowed down … they process about 700 warriors a month.”
For the upcoming golf tournament, Courtesy Cadillac in Salisbury is furnishing a “Hole in One Cadillac” where one lucky golfer could drive away with a major prize.
The club also holds car and motorcycle raffles on the Boardwalk as well as on occasion sells beer during Springfest and Sunfest.
The Ocean City Lions, in conjunction with the American Legion and Ocean City Volunteer Fire Department, own the Hooters building on the Boardwalk and the rental money is put toward funding their many projects.
Other programs the Ocean City Lions Club help fund include the Stephen Decatur High School Field House, Leader Dogs for the Blind, Diakonia, Worcester Developmental Center, Coastal Hospice, OC Play it Safe, Small Miracles, Four Steps Therapeutic Riding, Special Olympics, OC Aviation, School Peer Mediation, Boy Scouts, SDHS ROTC, Berlin Little League, Ocean City Police Trauma Bear and the Ocean City/Berlin Leo Club based at SDHS.
Also, each year the club gives three SDHS graduating seniors a $2,500 scholarship and three Atlantic General Hospital nursing students a $2,500 scholarship.
Another big project of the Lions is the collection of eye glasses that are sent to distribution centers, which are then passed on to third world countries.
As Cathell gave The Dispatch a tour of the club’s building showing the numerous awards and accomplishments the club and its members have received over the years, he said, “We work all the time and willingly … it’s always to help those less fortunate than ourselves, and that’s our whole thing, to help somebody … you work for the reward, not the award, but the people you help to get it.”
On June 13, at the Lions Den in West Ocean City, there will be a special dinner commemorating the 65th Anniversary of the Ocean City Lions. Lions and their families, elected officials and the district governor will be invited to attend this special event.