4 Lions Club members have been a part of the 9News Health Fair for 30 years
If you go
What: 9News Health Fair
When: 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. today
Where: Sunset Elementary School, 800 W. Seventh St.
On the eve of the annual 9News Health Fair, Jim Meineke and Al Shepherd could be found outside of Sunset Elementary School, unloading signs and tables from the back of a pickup.
For the 30th year, Meineke, 76, and Shepherd, 77, along with fellow Lions Club Members Stu Nadler, 73, and Marv Pearson, 87, will be helping with the Health Fair.
Volunteering in the community always has been important to the men, and the Lions Club has provided the perfect opportunity to do so.
Through community events such as the Health Fair, raffles, selling Christmas trees and Easter egg hunts, the men along with the Lions Club have been giving back for a combined 151 years.
“Since 1922, the Lions Club has been involved with all kinds of different help,” Meineke said. “But basically, we’ve been focused on helping youths and eyesight.”
The Craig Lions Club is one of the oldest volunteer groups in Craig and one of the oldest Lions Clubs in the state, Shepherd said.
“We’ve been supporting the community for a long time,” Shepherd said.
Supporting people is something Meineke has done his entire life.
“Myself, I’ve been volunteering in the community forever,” Meineke said. “I was a part of the sheriff’s posse, the Elks Club, the VFW.”
Each man has a different story about how he became involved in the club.
Shepherd followed his father’s footsteps.
“My father was in the Lions Club for 40 years,” Shepherd said. “After he passed away, I inherited his spot. In the old days, you couldn’t have more than one family member in the club at the same time.”
Meineke, who has been in the club for 45 years, said having only one family member in the club cut down on the number of conflicts.
“The basic idea was that there wouldn’t be any family fighting or politics,” Meineke said.
He and Pearson were recruited by former Craig Lions Club President Bob Sweeney.
“As soon as I got into town, Sweeney came along and asked me to join,” Pearson said. “He was always asking anyone new to town to join.”
Nadler said he joined when he moved to Craig 29 years ago.
“I joined because I had a lot of friends in the Club,” he said. “I was in another Lions Club for six years.”
The 9News Health Fair is one way the Lions Club has been able to give back to the community, since first sponsoring the event in 1979.
Since the Lions Club has become involved with the Health Fair, the venue has changed several times.
“The first year we did the Health Fair, we did it in the Armory, where the Boys & Girls Club is now,” Shepherd said. “It echoed so much in there, you couldn’t hear yourself think.”
“There were no petitions,” Nadler said.
Shepherd said the large room set up this year in Sunset Elementary School was perfect for the Health Fair.
“This place works,” Shepherd said. “It’s the best we could possibly do.”
But not everything has changed, Meineke said.
“When we first started the Easter egg pick-up in 1969, the kids would still go out and find all the candy in just a few minutes,” Meineke said. “Not much has changed since then.”
Recently, the group has seen its numbers dwindle. In the late 1970s, there were more than 100 members in the Lions Club, Shepherd said.
Now, the number is closer to 40.
“We’re always looking for new people to volunteer and have fun,” Shepherd said.
Almost all of the money the Craig Lions Club raises stays in the community.
“Some of it goes to the Lions Camp,” Shepherd said. “But the rest of it stays right here.”
Even though the men were taking their task of setting up for the Health Fair seriously, they weren’t taking it too seriously.
As Meineke and Shepherd continued to unload a truck outside of the school, Nadler paid them a visit.
“There you guys are,” he said. “We’ve been inside, working, and you two are out here talking.”
Meineke brushed him off.
“He’s just getting older and crabbier,” he said laughing.
For Nadler, a good ribbing is just a part of being in the club.
“We argue once in a while,” he said. “Mainly about whatever comes along.”
When there isn’t a good-natured argument, the men are busy helping the community.
While desks and chairs were being set up in the school for the fair, Pearson was busy finding electrical outlets to plug in extension cords.
“I’ve had several projects over the years – now I do all the little things I can do,” Pearson said. “The Christmas trees have been my project for a while.”
“We’ve been selling the Christmas trees since the beginning of time,” Meineke said. “God cast down upon us and said, ‘Sell the trees.'”
When asked who is the biggest joker of the bunch, the fingers all point in one direction.
“Oh, it’s got to be Meineke,” Shepherd said.
“Yeah, you’re right,” Meineke said. “It’s me.”
Keeping the attitude light has never been difficult for the four men.
“I don’t know if it would be fun if we were too serious,” Shepherd said. “You can’t always take life too seriously.”
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