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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Volunteer lions invade UA: Lions Clubs International making a difference on campus

    Courtney Helman
    Angel Hernandez, a psychology and Pre-Business sophomore, informs a fellow student Jona Norizge, an English junior, about the UA Lions Club a service-oriented club on campus.

    Where there’s a need, there’s a Lion. For many, this phrase has no significance, but to others, it serves as a guiding principle. 

    Lions Clubs International is the world’s largest service organization, with around 1.4 million members worldwide in 210 countries. That’s a lot of service. Luckily for us, the Lions Club recently started a student chapter at the UA.

    Matt Nettles, a junior studying neuroscience and cognitive science and president of UA Lions Club, joined his first semester at the UA.

    “I had really been thinking about a way to get involved on campus or in the community and someone was passing out flyers for this club, so I went to this presentation and heard about everything they do.,” Nettles said. “So far, it’s given me a lot of leadership experience.”

    The Lions Club is dedicated to performing service in the community and making it a better place. Lions are people willing to donate their time and efforts to volunteer and help others. The club also places an emphasis on vision services by providing eye exams and glasses to those in need.

    There are a variety of Lions Clubs within the Tucson area and all have been encouraging and supportive to the UA chapter.

    “That’s one thing about Lions Club: It’s really like a big family,” Nettles said. “Everywhere I go, all the other clubs are supportive and inclusive. Everyone wants to shake your hand and help you out.”

    The club is starting out small, but has high hopes for expansion.

    “Even though we’re small right now, I think we will be successful on campus because a lot of people are looking for a place to help others and this is an easy and fun way to do it,” said Dien Truong, a sophomore studying molecular and cellular biology and physiology, and one of the vice presidents of the club.

    Mckenzie Dryden, a nutritional sciences sophomore and director of the club, added to that sentiment.

    “I’ve really enjoyed all the volunteering opportunities I’ve gotten and I’ve been able to meet other service-minded people and get out in the community,” Dryden said.

    Vision may be an uncommon focus for volunteer organizations, but the Lions have a personal connection to this cause. 

    In 1925, Hellen Keller attended the Lions Club International Convention and asked the organization to become “knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness.”

    John Hart is a prominent Lion within the Tucson community and has served as an adviser (of sorts) for the UA club.

    “We all have a moment when we became a member and a moment when we became a Lion,” Hart said. “We became members when we signed up and paid our dues, but we became Lions when we felt in our hearts that we really did something good.”

    The Lions are eager to recruit new members and become a force of good within the community.

    Conner McKee, a pre-business sophomore and UA Lions Club membership director, said they want to “gather new ideas and spread the idea of Lions Club around campus. We’re looking for individuals with bright ideas and an open heart committed to serving others to join our club.”

    They have volunteered at soup kitchens and participated in an eyeglass collection drive to further the Lions’ mission about vision. The club is also preparing to start fundraising in order to buy a van for a child within the community who is suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. 

    The van will help his mobility and allow him to get to his doctor appointments more easily. According to the members of the club, this will be one of its major goals moving forward.

    Anyone interested in helping others or in becoming a “knight of the blind” should give this club a shot. The Lions are still working on their official meeting time, but usually meet every other Thursday in the Science and Engineering Library.

    Anyone interested in joining the UA Lions Club should contact McKee at

    Follow Alec Kuehnle on Twitter

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