Ladies, would you like to make history?  Next month the Golden Triangle’s first all-female Lions Club will charter on Sept. 26 and they are still looking for members. It will only be the fourth female club in Texas said Tammy McDaniel, president.

She is very excited about the new opportunity and said she had no idea the Lions had so many programs until she joined.

“Lions do so much, but they are not attention seeking. People don’t even know all the good they do. They are true humanitarians that I didn’t even know about till I joined. They don’t want recognition for it; they just do it and continue to do so. It’s really amazing,” said McDaniel.

Most people have heard of the Lions Eye Bank and are familiar with their collection of used eyeglasses for redistribution. “We have those recycling centers at all of the Walgreen’s. They are one of our big partners. People put in their used glasses. We take them and refurbish them. We have eye screens for the needy that can’t afford glasses. We work with the doctors. They come and do eye exams.” The glasses are then distributed.

The Lions’ focus on work for the blind and visually impaired began when Helen Keller addressed the International Convention in 1925. She charged Lions to be “Knights of the Blind.” It is the work they are most known for, but it is just a drop in the bucket of all their projects.

Did you know they are also involved in hearing and cancer-screening projects?

The Lions Medical Research Foundation provides funding for several researchers, including Ian Frazer. Frazer’s work led to the development of the vaccine for the human papillomavirus. HPV can lead to cervical cancer.

Other programs include diabetes prevention and treatment; a partnership with Habitat for Humanity; and Special Olympics.

Lions Clubs International was also involved in drafting the charter of the United Nations in 1945.

Lions Eye Bank of Texas in Houston is known for corneal transplants and research. It was the first eye bank. Other programs specific to Texas is the Lions Camp located in Kerrville. Founded in 1949, the camp hosts children age 7-16 with physical disabilities for one or two weeks in the summer. The camp is staffed by volunteer counselors and there is no charge to any child or family to attend. They also host a diabetic camp for children.

“All these kids get to come together and find out they are not alone. They get to have all sorts of activities such as canoeing and horseback riding; and it’s totally free to the children,” said McDaniel.

“On the Lions Web site there is a place the families can sign up for it. We actually have kids from our area that go, so it’s a great thing.”

The Texas Lions Foundation was established to respond to emergencies in Texas such as tornados, hurricanes, floods and other disasters. If a club in Texas is affected by an event, then TLF disburses funds to help that area recover. After Hurricane Ike hit the Golden Triangle in 2008, TLF immediately responded with a grant to help with recovery.

McDaniel said the group will also have its own projects. “All the members will be bringing in organizations they would like to give to. It’s a lot for charities in our area.” One she hopes to include is the women’s and children’s shelter. “We haven’t voted yet. We’ll probably vote after we charter. All our fundraising efforts through the year will be divvied up through the different charities.”

McDaniel said there is also a big diabetes walk in November that all the Lions Clubs will be involved in.

Women weren’t always allowed to be members of Lions Club International. The group, which was founded in 1917 in Oak Brook, Ill. by Melvin Jones, amended its constitution in 1986 to allow female members. Some all-male clubs still exist.

McDaniel said she found out about the Lions Club when the hotel she works for hosted their regional convention. “It’s one of the biggest in Texas,” she said. “We also have the two oldest in Texas which were founded way back in the 30s, 40s.” The oldest club is in their district.

McDaniel is the executive meeting manager at the Holiday Inn Beaumont Plaza and was very involved in setting up the Lions convention.

“We develop relationships with our clients, so when they decided to form a women’s club in our area, they came here to us and invited us to join. It just went from there.

“The district is very close, even though there are different clubs; we are all involved with each other’s sponsorship. At our charter night, all the clubs will be present,” she said. All will participate in the charter ceremony too. “One club will donate our gavel. Another club will donate the felt that our patches will go on. So it’s very much a community. It’s not a single club. They donate funds to help get you started.”

Membership in Lions Club is by invitation and this article is serving as an invitation to area females to join the Beaumont Professional Women Lions Club. Costs involved with membership are low. The membership fee is $35 and dues are $25 per quarter.

The group meets at noon every other Thursday at the Holiday Inn Beaumont Plaza on Walden Road.

Their next meeting will be Thursday, Sept. 5.

“You can still join and be a part of history by signing the charter at our charter banquet scheduled for the evening of Sept. 26,” said McDaniel. “It’s going to be a really exciting thing when a 100 years from now, when I’m gone, my name is still going to be on that charter. I will actually be a piece of Beaumont’s history, which is really, really neat.”

They currently have 20 plus members. “I don’t think you can ever have enough,” she said.

For more information you can contact Tammy McDaniel at 409-223-2865 or 409-842-7806.

The Beaumont Professional Lions Club will charter Sept. 26 as the first all female chapter in the Golden Triangle and one of only four in the state. Left to  right standing are Dessie Richard, Secretary: Carliss Jones, 1st Vice President; Linda Miller, Treasurer and seated Tammy McDaniel, President.  RECORD PHOTO: Stump Weatherford


About Penny LeLeux

Penny has worked at The Record Newspapers since 2006. A member of the editorial staff, she has "done everything but print it." Most frequently she writes entertainment reviews and human interest stories, with a little paranormal thrown in from time to time.She has been a lifelong member of the Orangefield community.