Lions still shy of needed members
Kelly Leonard moved to Kansas with her husband about two years ago from Washington state.
While living in Washington, where she was stationed in the military, Leonard volunteered at a local elementary school assisting teachers with various activities.
Now an employee at Tonganoxie City Hall, Leonard is not able to volunteer the same way because of her work schedule.
However, she hopes she has found a new way to volunteer in Tonganoxie.
Leonard attended an informational meeting Sept. 11 for Lions Club International, which hopes to establish a chapter in Tonganoxie.
"This just seemed like an opportunity to see what it's all about," Leonard said. "And it seems like a good opportunity to serve my community and help people. I used to do that when I was in Washington."
Leonard said she was interested in getting youth programs going in Tonganoxie through Lions Club. Some of the possible programs discussed ranged from one-on-one tutoring programs to helping with the city's proposed skate park.
The only problem with the informational meeting was that few people attended.
Leonard, Earleta Morey and Tonganoxie High School student Ali Smith were the only Tonganoxie residents who were at the meeting, along with Lions Club representatives. Smith won't be able to join the Lions Club until she is 18, but a younger division of the organization -- the Leo Club -- is open to youths.
In order to become a full-fledged Lions Club chapter, cities must have at least 20 people officially join its ranks.
Neal Nichols, district governor of Kansas Lions District 17-K7, said the membership is roughly at eight currently.
"We didn't have many in attendance, but the ones who were there were enthusiastic about getting a club started," Nichols said.
Morey was impressed with the organization and what it does for communities.
"They are nice people and they do a lot of nice things," Morey said.
Morey, who heads the volunteer center at Tonganoxie Elementary School, said she too was interested in what the Lions Club can do for local youths. She too was in support of a project on the horizon -- a skate park.
"Not everybody's into athletics," Morey said. "And some of these kids would like a place to go and have their skateboard park.
"I think that is important when the kids were so organized when they went to City Council meetings and tried to get something going."
Tonganoxie, for now, will be considered a branch of the Leavenworth Lions Club. When the required 20 people sign up, Tonganoxie will have its own chapter.
"They know this gives them the support they need to continue recruiting and get organized," Nichols said.
He hopes more people will attend and sign up today. Another meeting has been scheduled for 7 p.m. today, Sept. 19, in the council chambers at City Hall, 321 S. Delaware.
Leonard would like nothing more than for additional people to become members so that Tonganoxie's chapter can take flight.
"I'm just hoping more people would come to the meeting because it would be nice to get this started," Leonard said.