Powell Lions Club stalwarts Art Schatz and Frank Winz represent two-thirds of the active membership of the club.
When they say the Powell service club is barely in survival mode, they speak from the heart.
On the eve of one of the Powell Lions Club’s highest profile events — the 10th annual James Shelby Memorial Car Show — Schatz and Winz make no bones in saying they are down to a last ditch effort to save the club.
They will produce the car show which will line Powell’s main street from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 27.
But will it be the last?
“There’s a chance we can save the club if we can get some members,” said Schatz, club president.
“We have a lot of programs, but we need members to keep things going,” added Winz.
The Lions have only three active members. Kevin Perrett is the third.
The Lions have a long history in Powell. There are relics of the club dating back to 1922, though there are no records or minutes of the early years.
“We don’t know where they went,” Schatz said. “The Powell club was rechartered on April 29, 1957.”
“It must have died off and picked up again,” said Schatz.
Some other Lions clubs are struggling, too.
“Worland shut down about 10 years ago,” Schatz said. “Thermopolis is having a horrible time.”
Cody, on the other hand, has a strong Lions Club and has offered support in trying to bring life back to the Powell club.
“They were trying to help us,” Winz said, “but we’re to the point we need to make some determination for ourselves.”
The two men don’t see merger with another club as an option.
Schatz and Winz recognize their plight is shared by other service clubs and fraternal orders. The Kiwanis Club ceased operations last year after half a century in Powell.
A similar decision faces the Lions Club, Schatz and Winz acknowledged.
“We’ll keep going through the summer, maybe the end of the year,” they said. “If people aren’t interested, there’s nothing more we can do.”
In order to salvage the club, Powell Lions are making a direct appeal for potential members. The club meets the third Tuesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. at the Skyline Cafe.
Annual membership dues are $57 a year. Winz points out that the majority of the annual membership fee goes to Lions International and the state organization. Membership is open to women, and there have been women members of the Powell club in the past.
“Some have the incorrect impression that it’s a man’s club,” said Schatz
“Better than half the Lions clubs in Wyoming have women,” Winz said. “We’d love to have women members.”
Both Schatz and Winz remember better days for Lions in Powell.
Schatz joined the Powell club in 1999, but it wasn’t his first experience as a Lion. He has 33 years with Lions International and was formerly a member of the Byron club, which is still active. In the year 2000, he held the highest office in the state when he served as governor of Lions International in Wyoming.
Winz joined Lions in 2001, when the Powell club had 15 to 20 active members.
The Powell Lions sponsored the Demolition Derby at the Park County Fair for many years before the fair board reorganized the event.
“It was what kept us going,” Schatz said. “It gave the members something to point to.”
Another Lions-directed program is the collection of used eye glasses that are cleaned up and sent to developing countries. Several hundred pairs of glasses are collected each year in Powell and reconditioned for use by people in need.
“I’ve had so many glasses out of Powell through the years,” Schatz said. “I’m so proud of Powell.”
“Our goal (as Lions) is to make blindness obsolete,” Winz added.
Anyone interested in learning more about Lions Club membership is asked to call Winz at 307-221-9554 or Schatz at 307-250-8515.