Published: Friday, June 26, 2015 at 5:30 a.m.
PONCE INLET – The Ponce Inlet Lions Club had cause to celebrate at its annual installation and awards dinner. They had set high goals, raising the bar for the group’s new officers and board members.
How did they do it? One sandwich and one soda at a time. And because 51 members can do only so much, they cajoled and strong-armed friends and spouses to pitch in. Then, these gold-shirted bratwurst- experts dragged out the grills, loaded them onto trucks, filled the coolers and headed out to car shows, dog shows, fish fries, and social and white-cane events to raise money for Lions’ causes.
Chief among these was a $25,000 donation to Paws for Patriots, a program of Southeastern Guide Dogs; $4,500 to Longstreet Elementary School to buy computers; $1,000 to the Lions Foundation for the Blind; $1,000 to the Florida Lions Conklin Center for the Blind; $1,000 for Halifax Urban Ministries and others.
“Significant private contributions also helped the Lions in reaching our goal,” said member Bill Wester. ”In particular, Tom and Margo Whalen of Ponce Inlet, who are huge supporters of veterans. In addition, the owners of Inlet Harbor Restaurant and Marina supported a major fundraiser.”
On hand for the recent installation event at the Halifax River Yacht Club, was Michael Jernigan, 36, a retired Marine Corps corporal, who lost his eyesight and part of his cranium in a roadside bomb attack in Baghdad in 2004. He credits his service dog, Brittani, with helping him through his recovery.
Among the evening’s other honorees were Wester and Okhovatian, recipients of the Lions’ Melvin Jones award; and Bruce Grunsten, named Lion of the Year. Newly elected officers for 2015-16 are: President, Shirley Okhovatian; Vice President, Edward Kocis; Second Vice President, Robert LeDone; Secretary, Jeffrey Follmer; Treasurer, Ruth Snyder; Membership, Sandra Stephenson. Incoming Board Members: Bill Wester, Jack Stefano, Jay Thompson, Bill Fillion, Carol Reichard, Tom Lyttle, Bill Sileo, Bahador Jamshidi.
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