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Millerton Lions Club no more

The Millerton News Editorial

After more than seven decades of monthly dinners, holiday parties and silent auctions; years of planning and hosting carnivals and circuses for enthusiastic villagers and their guests; countless seasons of holding Little League practices and games; who knows how many hours preparing for bake sales, barbecues, flea markets, food drives and raffles; hundreds, possibly thousands, of hours volunteering for roadside and community cleanups; more than 60 incredible years creating a beloved community birthday calendar and many other years devoted to a vital scholarship program; and endless hours spent collecting donated eye glasses and fundraising for vision and hearing tests, diabetes treatment, childhood cancer treatment, helping the environment and so many other global concerns, the Millerton Lions Club seems to have done it all in its 72-year history. 

However this year, which came on the heels of an admittedly very difficult year-and-a-half in which the entire world found itself battling the deadly coronvirus pandemic, the Millerton Lions Club board decided to close the book on the celebrated organization. It held its final meeting on Friday, June 25, when it officially voted to disband. During that time, the club made a profound mark on and those who live and work here.

With 1.4 million men and women serving as Lions in 48,000 clubs globally, their motto is “Together We Serve,” as they strive to make a lasting impact and improve lives through acts of kindness. 

With a focus on service, the Millerton Lions Club was founded in 1948 with 37 original members — all men — including businessmen and other professionals and community members. 

The first female didn’t join until 1990. That was Nancy TenBroeck, who owned Millerton Computing. According to outgoing Lions Treasurer Ed Downey, she helped “draw on a new pool of talent, which extended the club’s reach and ultimately its life.”

In fact the Lions’ last sitting president, a nearly five-term president, was female and wildly popular with her fellow Lions and the rest of the community. She was none other than Maryann Belarge, who helped steer the club for many years as it worked to get many good deeds done in the village of Millerton and the town of North East.

The list of what the Millerton Lions Club accomplished in its seven-plus decades in the village and town is too great to lay out in a single editorial, or in the corresponding article readers will find on this week’s front page by reporter Carol Kneeland. However, we do hope you’ll take the time to read both; the article shares some interesting history and accounts about the club and a photo or two.

We would just like to go on the record saying how much we appreciate all the Millerton Lions Club has done for the community, its residents, its businesses and those who just stopped by to visit our wonderful neck of the woods. 

To those who volunteered to join the Lions Club throughout its existence and become Lions, or Leos as the case may be for some of our younger residents, we thank you. We recognize the amount of time spent, the amount of energy invested, the amount of dedication contributed — it was no small commitment when you signed up to be a Lion and we can’t express how much we respect and honor that pledge. 

Your good deeds, and most likely those of your father (or mother, as the case may be, as we find service to others often runs in the family), have helped establish our little corner of the Hudson Valley as one of the most enviable and respected communities in all of Dutchess County. 

The Millerton Lions Club and its efforts are a large part of why that is so. We admit we are sorry to see you write the final chapter of your Lions Club tale (or should we say tail?), but we understand and sympathize with why and how you reached your decision and wish all Lions members, past and present, nothing but the best moving forward. 

We realize it’s hard to keep finding volunteers in today’s busy world for such civic organizations. We simply want thank those of you who served for your many contributions to our community — your selfless actions and tireless efforts improved countless lives for more than seven decades — now that’s worthy of a mighty roar.

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