The Lions Roar Back to Life

By Sara Jane Richter

After serving their community for nearly 90 years, The Hennessey Lions Club isn’t quitting soon even though the group contemplated ending during the dark days of the Covid pandemic.  Three-time club president Tim Riddle is proud of the fact that the Lions are determined not to pack it in and wait for better days.  Better days arrived too.

Members gathered their patience, and after a six-month shutdown mandated by Lions International, the Hennessey group re-invigorated their efforts to recapture the excitement of the group.  They mounted a recruitment effort which about doubled the size of the organization.  The best way to entice new membership applications is to stress participating in the community.  

They struck upon several ways to invest their time and funds into improving Hennessey and enriching it.  Lions do this by organizing and supporting fundraising events, like developing Mistletoe Magic at Christmas time; offering the Bessie Rutherford Scholarship for a qualified Hennessey senior student; putting up American flags along Main Street on patriotic holidays; doing the Christmas Parade; getting the circus to come to town; hosting the water races of ducks, ping pong balls, or cardboard ”boats” at the local 4th of July celebration; and sponsoring the town Easter Egg Hunts.  If you think that takes a lot of time and effort and energy, you’re right, but that is not the comprehensive list of activities they organize to help Hennessey, grow community spirit, and strengthen ties that all residents develop toward their town.  All funds raised by the Hennessey group stay in Hennessey.

Since the organization’s inception in 1917, Lions International does have one primary task, and that is a charitable one:  to help young people in particular with vision problems.  For example, Hennessey Lions pays for eye exams and eyeglasses for needy, qualified schoolchildren.  Lions International offers training services to those who are blind, manages a training program for Seeing Eye dogs, supports an eye bank in Oklahoma City, and currently maintains a mobile screening unit that visits communities as needed to help with disease prevention.  This giving does not stop with Hennessey as the local chapter contributes funding to local children with medical needs and to worthy school groups.  This group is dedicated to its community.

The club meets each Thursday at noon at the Family Café on Hennessey’s Main Street.  All can visit these luncheons and see the group in action during their meeting time.  New members are always welcome and do not have to be business owners or even live in Hennessey, and nowadays, unlike the “olden” days, women may join.  Members don’t even have to attend each weekly meeting to maintain their affiliation to the organization.  Yearly dues are $75, and those funds go to Lions International.

Interested in becoming a Hennessey Lion?  You should be.  Help this group of energetic and creative people build Hennessey and make community roots even deeper in the sandy soil of central Oklahoma.  You’d be a good fit. Contact Tim Riddle at (405) 853-1678.