Help Lions Club remain a ‘thriving’ community asset’ |

Help Lions Club remain a ‘thriving’ community asset’

In 1925, Helen Keller addressed the Lions Club International Convention, and asked that members join her “crusade against darkness.” Since then, Lions Clubs have become best known for their work with the blind; they support the visually impaired by sponsoring vision screening, corneal transplants and guide dog programs.

However, their community involvement does not stop with the blind. For 85 years, Lions Clubs have been dedicated to serving the communities in which they reside. The local Lions Club of Higgins-Diggins supports schools by sponsoring foreign exchange students and mentoring the Bear River High School Leo Club. According to club advisor Jane Patterson, Leo Club members clean roads, sing at convalescent hospitals and, most recently, raised money for the Auburn family of an American soldier killed in Iraq.

Another more noticeable contribution this Lions Club has made is the construction of the Higgins Lions Community Center – the Roy Peterson building – located on East Hacienda Drive. The idea of building a community center came about in 1983. With grant money from Nevada County and Lions Club International, private donations and fund-raisers, the Lions were able to incorporate as the Higgins Lions Community Association in 1985. Roy Peterson, a charter member of the club, donated 4 acres of land to the project, as well as a significant cash amount for construction.

Larry Strait, a 15-year resident of LOP and a 45-year Lions Club member, is vice president of HLCA. A musician and veteran of WWII, Larry has undertaken the task of raising public awareness of the HLCA facility. He is calling for volunteers to assist the nonprofit corporation in administrative tasks. He is looking for professionals with fund-raising, marketing, and management skills and hopes to find a retired secretary to help him with filing for about one hour per month.

According to Larry, it is a constant challenge to fund the day-to-day operations of the building. The HLCA board members have three main financial goals this year: First, to create enough rental revenue to cover the maintenance of the building; second, to create a fund which can be used for capital improvements; and third, to collect contributions for the HLCA trust fund so there will be a secure future for operation.

The Roy Peterson building has been available at no charge to nonprofits such as the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Junior Bruins football and Future Farmers of America. The California Division of Forestry has held classes there; the League of Women Voters is holding a candidates’ night Feb. 26.

What Larry and the other HLCA board members want the community to be aware of is that this building can be rented to private groups, as well. It has been used for business meetings, birthday parties, wedding receptions and memorials. The building has a commercial-size kitchen, a P.A. system, large screen television, outdoor barbeque and cabana. The Lions can also set up and staff a bar. It seats approximately 250 and has new tables and chairs. If you would like to schedule an event, call Donna Prince at 268-3782.

At some point, every citizen is called on to volunteer resources to benefit the group as a whole. Lions Club member Larry Strait is doing his part by volunteering his services to the HLCA. Charter member Roy Peterson contributes on an on-going basis and has recently set up a sizeable scholarship trust fund to benefit area students. They, along with their Lions Club co-members, are dedicated to keeping the HLCA building a thriving community asset. If you would like to join the more than 75 members of the Lions Club of Higgins-Diggins or are able to contribute your expertise or tax-deductible dollars to a worthy community organization, contact Larry Strait at 268-1406.

Laura Lavelle can be contacted at or by leaving a phone message with the readership editor at 477-4238.

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