Long Tradition of Service
In the Roaring Twenties, some of the young men in Larchmont and Mamaroneck were quick to embrace a new idea. Lions Clubs had just begun to pop up around the country inspiring men to create clubs for their towns. They were drawn by the promise of camaraderie in doing old-fashioned, good deeds for others. Their goal in launching the Lions Clubs was simply to serve those who needed help.
About that time, Helen Keller addressed an international convention of Lions Clubs in Ohio and asked the members to become “Knights of the Blind” in the crusade against darkness.” So Lions nationwide began to concentrate on assistance for the blind and vision impaired in addition to helping their communities. Through the years, the two clubs have donated Braille books and typewriters, electronic sight testing equipment, large print books and tapes, and thousands of used eyeglasses for recycling. They conducted outings for members of the Lighthouse and, through creative fundraising, consistently supported the Visions Center on Blindness and Guiding Eyes for the Blind.
Club members also found time for other initiatives. They provided kits for soldiers overseas, sponsored Babe Ruth Leagues, bought benches and trash bins for the Town, a defibrillator for the fire department, and built the bus shelter at the corner of Palmer and Weaver. In 1988, they started a scholarship for a MHS senior that was based on service to community, school and house of worship.
How did they do all these things? They put the “fun” in fundraisers by organizing events that brought everyone together… a fishing expedition in the Sound, a night at the Westchester Dinner Theatre, a day at Belmont’s races, a Hole in One Tournament at Hommocks School, a Bike Race… so many events through the years.
When all-male clubs became passé, Attorney Delores Batallia, then Supervisor of the Town of Mamaroneck, became the first female member of the Larchmont Club in 1987. Sondra Calvin-Singer, the third woman to join the formerly all-male bastion, became its first female president in 1992. Another record is being set by Jack Coughlin, who, at this writing, has been a member of the Larchmont Club for 65 years.
As many of its members aged and moved away, the Larchmont Club was dormant from 2006-2010 until Jagadish Rao, a past district governor of the Lions in another district, moved to Larchmont and revived and re-chartered the Club. In 2017, the Larchmont and Mamaroneck Clubs, serving adjacent neighborhoods, merged.