By Charter Members Myron Isherwood Jr. and Hiroshi Shima

 updated by PDG Alan Garson


The Akaka Falls Lions Club was chartered on July 1, 1963 by the International Association of Lions Clubs. The Charter was presented by then District Governor of District 50, Kenneth K. Yamamoto, to Akaka’s Charter President Myron Isherwood Jr.  Several hundred Lions and guests attended the impressive Charter installation on September 7, 1963 at the Hukilau Restaurant in Hilo.

The 20 charter members represented a cross section of community-minded businessmen, sugar plantation personnel, educators and transferred and reinstated Lions.  The Crescent City Lions Club served as Akaka Fall’s sponsoring, or “mother” club.  Currently, Akaka Falls Lions Club membership consists of 45 Lions and includes 3 charter members –Myron Isherwood Jr., Hiroshi Shima and Minoru Shimabukuro.  Another charter member, Kazumi Oshita, is an active member of the Kona Lions Club. In the earlier years, the club serviced an area along the Hilo-Hamakua coast from Ookala to Pepeekeo and derived its name from the world-famous Akaka Falls above the town of Honomu.  The Akaka Falls Lions Club is renowned for many things including its numerous service projects that benefit the communities in its service area, and for hosting events filled with fun, fellowship and featuring unique, homemade, ethnic foods.  The club is also recognized for its consistently high attendance at monthly membership meetings.

The Akaka Falls Lions Club, like many organizations, has adjusted to the changing times.  As the sugar industry struggled, many members left the club.  The late Lion George Walker, then Principal of Laupahoehoe High and Elementary School, recruited more educators and businessmen.  Lion George was a transfer to Akaka Falls by way of Molokai and Puna Lions Clubs.  Lion George was able to blend his expertise in communication and management with his flexible personality and was instrumental in the resurgence of the club’s membership.  As a result of these newly recruited members, there were more club activities, fellowship events and projects for the communities, zone, region and District 50.

Shortly after the closing of the plantations, the club suffered a second major decline in membership which dropped to only 12 members.  Although it was difficult to fill the slate of officers, the club and membership persevered and continued to service the community.  The club’s annual charter installations and zone funfests were still well attended by zone and region Lions and guests, who enjoyed our wide range of food and fellowship.  A few members recruited other key individuals, which helped in the revival of the club.

Club activities were also influenced by the changing times and demographics.  Club projects during the formative years included house to house broom sales; co-sponsored Hilo Coast Little League sports events with the Crescent City Lions club; Salvation Army bell ringing, and park and school beautification projects.  Among the many activities a few years ago, the club sponsored the Laupahoehoe School Leo Club, conducted pre-school vision (ambloyopic) screening, cleaned up litter along the road to Akaka Falls, and hosted visiting International Youth Camp participants.  

In addition to the above activities, the club has expanded its membership, increased the vision and hearing screening to the entire East side of the Big Island, sponsored the blood bank, participated in the American Cancer Society Relay for Life, rang bells during the holidays for the Salvation Army, and many more.  The Service Projects Committee of the club is one of the most active committees.

We have also conducted four Weinberg Service projects for community non-profit organizations, bringing in $10,000 to each and performing 100 man-hours of service for a total of $40,000 and 400 man-hours to the community/organizations.

We have initiated several unique events, including an annual wine-tasting fund raiser, and continue to make our traditional Portuguese sausage and smoked meat.

The Akaka Falls Lions Club is proud to have loyal and enthusiastic members serve District 50 as Region and Zone Chairmen, as Hawaii Lions foundation Trustees, and most recently (2009-2010), a District Governor, Cabinet Secretary, and Cabinet Treasurer.  At the 2002 District 50 Convention, Akaka Falls Lions Club was awarded the Division 1 Youth Program Award and the Sei Toda Award for the highest membership gain, and at the 2010 convention in Hilo, we were designated as an “Elite” club, the only club in District 50 to achieve that distinction.

Today, the clubs younger members serve as officers and also chair numerous Community service projects. With the energy and dedication of these younger members, the club’s future is bright.  It is with greatest pride that the three remaining Charter members celebrate Akaka Falls Lions Club’s 50th Charter anniversary along with other club members and Lions of District 50.  We proudly look forward to the Akaka Falls Lions Club’s continued presence in our community, state, and nation.

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