The year was 1929, it was the Jazz Age. On March 4th, the new President, Herbert Hoover, riding the crest of the economic boom of the Roaring 20s, prophesied in his inaugural address, that the day would come when poverty would be abolished in America. Six months later in October, the stock Market crashed, plunging the United States & the World into The Great Depression. On April 28th, assisted by personnel from the International Association, a group of local young men organized a Lions Club in New Milford, Ct. The Charter was presented to the first President, Paul Barton, in a ceremony attended by over 200 Lions and guests at St. Francis Xavier Hall on May 16th.
The Lions Motto is "We Serve". Over the years the Lions have dedicated themselves to service in the Town of New Milford. In the early years the Club purchased playground equipment for schools and park benches on the Green. It leased Young's Field for Town use, prior to its purchase by the Town. During the 1930s they paid for Summer Camp for children. In 1945 the Lions established a skating rink at Young's Field. They were instrumental in obtaining land, now Lynn Deming park, on Candlewood Lake for public use. Over the years the Club has purchased and donated over 70 acres to the Weantinoge Heritage for open space.
On the occasion of the 40th Anniversary, the Club built and equipped the pavillion at Lynn Deming Park. The Club's 50th Anniversary project was the pavilion and facilities at Young's Field. In 1989, the Club constructed and donated the Robert Ohmen pavillion and cook-out facilities at Harrybrooke Park. In 1997, the Club built and donated (the 2nd) Walter Conn pavillion at Harrybrooke Park.
In 1931, the Club sponsored the second Cub Scout Pack ever organized in the United States. Since 1931, Boy Scout Troop #1, now #58, has been under continuous sponsorship of the Club. In the 1990s the Club organized and Chartered a Leos Club at Schaghticoke Middle School.
Lions Community Betterment Fund activities have included:
- The Lions Club Memorial Scholarship was established in 1965. To date the scholarship has awarded over $200,000 in scholarships to graduates of New Milford High School.
- For over 30 years the seniors of New Milford have celebrated a Holiday Dinner and Christmas Party courtesy of the Lions. Since 1999, a Seniors Summer Picnic has also been given.
- Donations to the New Milford Hospital for new equipment have exceeded $20,000. Local, district and International projects have received over $50,000 in support.
- The Lions Club has provided eye exams and glasses at no charge to New Milfords' school children who were unable to afford such treatment.
- An annual donation has been given to Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation since 1983.
- The annual Carnival on the 4th of July at Young's Field has been sponsored by the Club with a percentage of the income dedicated to the Fireworks display.
- Over the years the Club has supported local sports groups, the Girl Scouts, the Cancer Fund, the United Way, the Senior Center, the Food Bank, Harrybrooke Park, and a host of other worthwhile charities.
Each Fall the Club sponsors an old fashioned Country Fair and Car Show at Harrybrooke Park with crafts, rides, food and entertainment. All proceeds from fundraising activities go into the Lions Community Betterment Fund and 100% of these proceeds are distributed within the community with no administrative fees deducted.
We, the members of the New Milford Lions Club, are proud to have served the New Milford Community for over 80 years and plan on continuing to honor our pledge "We Serve" for many more years to come.