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Lions Club impacted by virus

 Lions Club members serve up pancakes during a past fly-in breakfast at the Fairmont Airport.

FAIRMONT — The Fairmont Lions Club was organized in February of 1956. It’s part of the large international organization that was started in 1917. The motto of all Lions Club is “we serve.”

The local club raises money through different fundraisers and then donates it to a variety of charitable organizations.

Two of the Fairmont Lions Club’s main fundraising projects include the fly-in breakfast, which takes place annually on the fourth Sunday in June at the Fairmont Airport. The popular pancake breakfast draws hundreds each year.

The ring toss game is a must-stop for many each year at the Martin County Fair.

Unfortunately, neither the fly-in breakfast nor the Martin County Fair happened this year due to COVID-19.

Money from membership fees, the fly-in breakfast and the ring toss are the group’s primary funds.

The club’s current president is Roger Bloomgren. Bloomgren is in his sixth year of being a Lions Club member. This is his first year serving as president.

Duane Nawrocki is a long-time member that joined the club in 1968.

“Sometimes we’re one of the best kept secrets because we’re out in public at the fly-in breakfast and the ring toss, but we forget to tell the community that we’re doing these other things as well,” Nawrocki said.

The Lions Club collects both hearing aids and eye glasses from various places in town. They support several diabetes programs, including Camp Needlepoint for youth and the International Diabetes Center in Minneapolis. They also donate to Can Do Canines.

“It’s a firm in New Hope that trains dogs for people who have a disability,” Nawrocki said.

Nawrocki went on to explain that the assistance dogs are for both adults and children who have a variety of health issues such as sight, hearing, balance and autism. Recipients receive an assistance dog at no charge.

“Not all of our money goes to the Minneapolis area or out-of-state,” said Bloomgren.

He shared that some donations are given locally to Dollars for Scholars, Let’s go Fishing and Kinship.

“Our club votes on the budget and then the money is dispersed,” Nawrocki explained.

The Lions Club does several other projects with funds they raise each year. The club is responsible for constructing the shelter houses at Amber Lake Park, Lincoln Park and Wards Park.

“We built them and donated them to the city,” Nawrocki said.

Currently the Lions Club has about 22 members, but that number has fluctuated throughout the years.

“We had a lot more members way back when. We’re just starting to do some serious recruiting,” Nawrocki said.

The Lions Club is just one of many service clubs that lack the strong numbers they used to have. Many have said it’s been a challenge to get younger members of the community to join.

Prior to the coronavirus, the Lions Club met twice a month. They would meet the first Monday of each month at Jake’s Pizza for a business meeting. On the third Monday of each month, they would meet at the Pizza Ranch for supper.

Lately, they’ve been meeting at the Amber Lake shelter house. They hope to go back to their old meeting schedule once there are less restrictions and it is safer to do so.

“When it comes to our two meetings we maybe get half the members coming, but when it comes to ring toss and the fly-in breakfast, everybody comes to help,” Nawrocki said.

“Meetings are not mandatory, but you should try to go,” Bloomgren said.

Bloomgren said they currently have a committee cooking up more ideas for fundraising projects.

“We’re open to everyone. We have a Facebook page, Fairmont Lions Club. People can reach out to us on that,” Bloomgren said.

Nawrocki said anyone interested in the Lions Club can also call him at 320-492-1773.

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