Members reflected on the group’s 77-year run in Plant City on July 7.
Though July 7 was the last time the Plant City Lions Auxiliary would meet for a luncheon, that Saturday afternoon get-together was anything but sad.
The ladies of the Lions Auxiliary said “goodbye” to the 77-year-old group that afternoon at the Plant City Photo Archives and History Center by sharing memories of the past in several ways. They shared scrapbooks of photos dating as far back as 1982, which have also been donated to the Photo Archives along with a check for $100. They sat in a circle at a table and reminisced about good times they had lending their helping hands. They were glad to see each other because doing so these days isn’t always easy.
The Lions Auxiliary was chartered on March 20, 1941 by wives of the members of the Plant City Lions Club, who normally met on the fourth Tuesday of every month from September through May at any member’s home.
Its purpose was to cooperate with and encourage the Lions Club in its civic programs, which often led to behind-the-scenes work at some of Plant City’s biggest events. The auxiliary has long helped with the Florida Strawberry Festival Queen’s Pageant, doing everything from setting up stages to working individually with each contestant and offering scholarships to Miss Congeniality, as well as other graduating seniors at local high schools.
“It was a team effort in everything we did,” historian Silvia Dodson said. “That’s the way we liked it.”
The ladies have been heavily involved with local civic projects like Empty Bowls and Southeastern Guide Dogs, and also sponsored a cabin at Florida Lions Camp before it closed.
“We did all these things because we love our husbands and the contestants, and we wanted above all to serve,” vice president Laurette Valdez said.
The auxiliary decided to make 2018 its final year of organized service due to the Lions Club’s steady addition of women in recent years, which lessened the auxiliary’s duties. Valdez said the auxiliary is “passing on the torch to the next generation” by disbanding, but that the ladies are still planning to meet every so often “just for the fun of it” and will still be available to help.
“We will always be here for the Lions Club when they need us to be,” Valdez said.