Cullman Lions Club: more than 60 years strong

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The Cullman Lions Club recently named its 2018 Board of Directors for the Cullman County Fair Association. They are:

Seated: (L-R) Lion Jerry Bonner, fair co-manager; Lion Rickey Peek, director; Lion Dennis Berse, director; Lion Randy Kraft, director; Lion Steve Singleton, treasurer; Lion Steve Cartee, fair vice-president.

Standing: (L-R) Lion Charlie McBrayer, fair co-manager; Lion Doug Spradlin, director; Lion Carey Thompson, secretary; Lion Richard White, director; Lion Charlie Powell, director; Lion Charlie Childers, fair president.

Not pictured are Lion Tim Scott, director and Lion Steve Murphree, advisor.

Photo courtesy of the Cullman Lions Club

CULLMAN – One of Cullman’s most active and altruistic civic organizations, the Cullman Lions Club, has been active within the community for more than 60 years. Its membership ranks are filled with men from every part of the county, and include everyday citizens, businessmen, lawmakers and even the county sheriff, all of whom work together for one goal: to serve Cullman County.

Founded in 1954, the Cullman Lions Club has always worked to improve eye health and is responsible for the Cullman County Fair as one of its first fundraising events. The club works with several foundations in the state and have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars towards eye care and other charities.  

Cullman Lions Club Treasurer Jerry Bonner has been a part of the club for decades and has seen the membership grow from just 55 when he first joined to 115 today. Bonner has seen all kinds of projects that the organization has had a hand in over the years.

“From the standpoint of Lions International, our emphasis has almost always been on sight preservation so that’s a big part of what the Cullman club is,” Bonner said. “Our first fundraiser that we came up with was the county fair and that has continued to be our biggest fundraiser for all these years. As far as eye care, one of the biggest things that we support is Alabama Lions Sight, which is located in Birmingham, and it allows us to help individuals with eye surgeries, medications and other things they might need. We also work with the Callahan Eye Foundation (UAB) and their doctors.”

The Cullman Lions have donated a substantial amount of money over time for the cause.

“Over the years we have probably donated around $20,000 per year for the last 10 years, so if you go back through the whole time we’ve been established we’ve given over half a million dollars,” shared Bonner. “We also work with eye care locally of course with optometrists here and send patients to them if they need help.”

Outside of its contributions to eye care in the state, the Lions Club is also a contributor within the community. It has been involved with charity organizations and use local events to raise money for donations.

“Of course, we also support a lot of local things. We’ve been working with Cullman Caring for Kids (food bank) for the last several years,” Bonner said. “The biggest fundraiser we’ve been able to create for them is the parking for Rock the South the last few years. All the money we’ve made for parking the cars for the festival has gone to Cullman Caring for Kids.”

The Lions also contribute to local area parks.

“We helped build Heritage Park, and the East Side Park in town is called Lions Club Park because we put money into that to help develop it, so we do a lot with the parks here in town and in the county,” stated Bonner. “We also have our fish and ham dinner every spring and that’s always a big fundraiser for us.”

Bonner considers the responsibilities and the rewards of being a Lion one in the same, and said he enjoys the opportunity to help his community.

“The reward is getting the joy of knowing that you are serving your community and being a part of an organization that helps people who can’t help themselves. I’ve been a member almost 54 years now and I would’ve never thought I’d be part of an organization like this. I really, really enjoy being part of this group. It’s a great group of people and they are committed to serving others.”

Another longtime member, David Bussman, talked about some of the other things that the Lions Club does within the community and around the world.

“The largest thing we do is Lions Sight; we give a lot of money to Lions Sight. We also collect any kind of old glasses and what they’ll do is refurbish them and (they) get sent to people in foreign countries who need glasses.,” Bussman said. “Cullman Caring for Kids is always something we help with and then there are a lot of little things in the community that we do. Sometimes we sponsor dogs that detect blood sugar levels for people with diabetes, we refurbished the park over on the east side of town and we gave some money to Stiefelmeyer Park. We’ve done a couple of rooms at the hospital when they did their campaign. We get most of our money from the county fair and some from our ham and fish dinner that we do every year. That’s pretty much it as far as raising money.”

Bussman is proud to be a part of a club that he believes is made up of good people who are willing to put in the work necessary to be successful in both raising money and giving back.

“The club is a bunch of good men,” he said. “The man hours it takes to run the fair is unbelievable. I do the concession stand at the fair and the hours for our people is a lot. People don’t realize that when its here for 10 days. I’ll get there at 10 in the morning and probably won’t leave until 10 at night for each day. All the men are doing the same thing; everybody is doing something, and if there is a need somewhere, somebody will fill that need”

Bussman thinks it’s important to stay mindful of causes the Lions can get behind in the community year-round and was happy to say the club almost always finds a way to contribute.

“The stuff in town that we do just depends on the need. A lot of people bring needs to the club, and they look at those every month, and if we think it’s doable and will make a difference, most of them get funded. We do a lot of little things that really help people,” he shared.

Find out more about the Cullman Lions Club at www.cullmanlions.com.

This year, the Cullman Lioness Club celebrated 40 years of service to the community.

Below are the 2017-2018 officers of the Lions, Lionesses, respectively:

President: Bill Ruehl, Carol Nielsen
1st Vice-President: Mike Ponder, Mary Daniel
2nd Vice-President: Andrew Manning, Tiffany Gambrill
Secretary: Don Smith, Cynthia Tubbs
Treasurer: Jerry Bonner, Penny Burkett
Tail Twister: Richard Gurley, Sybil Tubbs
Lion/Lioness Tamer: Dave Gratz, Heather Rabending
Director: Howard Perry, Dottie Henke
Director: Riley Smith, Judy Waldrep
Director: Gary Murphree, Mary Caudle
Director (Lions Club International): Chris Robinson
Membership Chair: Frank Odell, Kaye Harbison
Membership Vice-Chair: Scott Waldrep, Emma Thornton
Membership: Fuller Smith, Nelda Powell

Find out more about the Lionesses at www.cullmanlions.com/page4.html.

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