Oldham Lions opts to save
club and its Belknap Park
club was in danger of disbanding
Helen E. McKinney
(July 2006) The North Oldham Lions Club has
served its community for 50 years. A few months ago, it was in danger
of ending its numerous humanitarian efforts and selling the William
Burke Belknap Memorial Park it maintains on Hwy. 42 in Goshen. But now
it seems the club will endure.
by Don Ward
William Burke Belknap Memorial
Park on Hwy 42 in Goshen has offered
a fun and friendly place for children
to play since 1971.
At one time, it was a vibrant club, said member
Fred Royce, 61.
Recently, its numbers had dwindled down to 18. Members of civic organizations
no longer want to make long-term commitments to a group, said Royce.
The club has maintained the park since 1971. The Belknap family deeded
25 acres to the club as a memorial after Louisville hardware magnate
William Belknap died.
Belknap founded his hardware corporation in 1840 along the banks of
the Ohio River. He began producing iron products in a small shop, and
like the Lions Club, was attentive to the needs of his community.
On March 16, 2006, the board of directors for the North Oldham Lions
Club voted to discontinue their club, close the park, sell it to developers
and donate the proceeds to charity.
But since then, the vote has been rescinded to sell the park with the
stipulation that the club maintain 50 members and raise $10,000. So
far, Royce has his 50 members and is $3,000 short of his goal.
Were on our way, he said. The Lions Club is the largest
civic organization in the world, with close to 1.35 million members
in 197 countries. Since 1917, the Lions Club has tackled such issues
as blindness, diabetes and drug abuse prevention.
Royce wants surrounding neighborhood associations to contribute to his
financial effort to save the club. He lives in the Paramont neighborhood,
and if residents would add $5 to their quarterly association dues, this
extra amount of money could be donated to the club for upkeep expenses.
Lori Johnson, a Prospect resident, was a faculty member of the School
for the Blind in Louisville for 18 years. Theyve done so
much for the kids at the School for the Blind, said Johnson. After
discovering the plight of the club, Johnson felt compelled to help in
any way possible.
She said there is no doubt that the Lions Club provides a valuable service
to the community. Ive met many Lions Club members by the
line of work Im in, she said. They do so much for
children and adults, as well.
Johnson has now become a member of the North Oldham Lions Club. She
is pursuing a doctoral in Visual Impairment and Blindness at the University
of Louisville and is volunteering her expertise in an effort to help
the club regroup. She is also on the Prospect Art and Craft Fair committee.
If the park and community center are sold, the art fair will be without
a home. The North Oldham Fire Department has operated the art fair for
the last two years.
This year, the Prospect Arts and Crafts Fair is scheduled for Sept.
23-24, according to organizer Karen Albers. The North Oldham Fire Department
will move to a new location, if necessary, but still oversee the fair.
The proceeds go to the WHAS Crusade for Children.
The North Oldham Lions Club will provide home cooked food this
year, said Albers. This is different from the past food offerings.
This will be the 34th year for the fair, and more than 100 vendors are
expected, Albers said.
Closing the community center, which houses many of the vendors for the
art fair, would be a definite loss for the community, she said. The
park is so well used. Its a great place to have in the community.
Lions Club District Gov. Joe Westerman thinks that with a growing membership,
the Lions Club will take on some things they used to do, like
the Prospect Arts and Crafts Fair and fish frys. He also thinks
they will take on different type projects to fit the needs of
the area, and do so much more than they used to do.
Westerman attributed a large number of senior members to the clubs
decline. These members didnt have the physical strengths to do
some of the tasks that were required. A younger crowd has different
concerns than seniors, but these differences can be worked out,
He is optimistic about the clubs future, believing that in
no time it will be as strong as it ever was. All that join have a good
heart. They want to reach out to people less fortunate than themselves.
They are thankful for what they have and want to give back to the community.
We have 50 people ready to do things, said Royce. We
need to use the park in a charitable way to serve our community.
The North Oldham Lions Club meets at 7 p.m. on the third Thursday of
every month at the Belknap Community Center. This month, they will meet
For more information or to donate to this
cause, call Fred Royce at (502) 290-5104.
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