The passing of the Groveport Madison Lions Club

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By Rick Palsgrove, Groveport editor

Messenger photo by Rick Palsgrove
For the last 80 years, each meeting of the Groveport Madison Lions Club started with the ringing of a fine bell, which has now been donated by the disbanded club to the Groveport Heritage Museum for safekeeping.

The announcement came in a simple, dignified letter sent to Groveport city officials.
The letter from Groveport Madison Lions Club Secretary Ed Myers, dated July 2, notified city officials that the club disbanded as of June 29 after more than 80 years of service to the community.

The letter stated the club disbanded due to “age and health problems.”
The club’s demise means it will no longer be a familiar sponsor of the annual Halloween Block Party in Groveport, participate in Apple Butter Day events, or other activities.

The Groveport Madison Lions Club began in 1940 to promote “sight saving, community betterment, and civic improvement.” It began with 43 members and each meeting started with the ringing of a fine bell, which has now been donated by the disbanded club to the Groveport Heritage Museum for safekeeping.

In its early years, the club promoted the installation of electric lights at the high school football field, which was once located by what is now Groveport Elementary School. A major project involved promoting the addition of address numbers for homes and businesses in the then village of Groveport.

The club actively provided support for America’s efforts in World War II and on May 30, 1946 it erected and dedicated a stone monument on the grounds of Groveport High School (now Groveport Elementary) to honor those who served in World War II.

Throughout its eight decades of existence the club sponsored and supported the Halloween Jamboree (later known as the Block Party), the Scouts, Christmas parties, and many other events and community driven betterments. Its service to the community will be missed.

The club’s demise is part of a larger trend in our world that began in the late 20th century and has carried over into the 21st century. Civic groups and fraternal organizations have waned over this time period as our social structure has fractured.

In his book, “Bowling Alone,” Robert Putnam cites these factors leading to the passing of such civic and social community organizations: pressures of time and money; urban sprawl; the rise of television and computer entertainment, social media, as well as cell phones; and generational change where younger generations for many of the reasons listed above and more, have not filled in and replaced older members of these groups.

Wrote Putnam (in chapter 10, page 183 of his fine book), “We are still more civically engaged than citizens in many other countries, but compared with our own recent past, we are less connected. We remain interested and critical spectators of the public scene…We maintain a facade of formal affiliation, but we rarely show up. We have invented new ways of expressing our demands that demand less of us.”

Time will tell how many other of our familiar civic groups over time will fade away like the setting sun

(Editor’s note: If you are interested in the topic of how civic clubs and fraternal organizations are fading away in the modern world, I recommend the book, “Bowling Alone,” by Robert Putnam. This book provides analysis, commentary, and other insights on the disconnection and disintegration of our social structures.)

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