Lions’ roar continues to be heard in the Yampa Valley more than 100 years after the club was founded in Steamboat
Thirty-four community leaders came together in late 1922 to start the first chapter of Lions Club in Steamboat Springs, creating an organization that has now served the community for a century.
“I think it’s the oldest club in Steamboat Springs — with a very proud history,” said Ed Mumm, president of the Steamboat Ski Town Lions Club. “And we’re working on some pretty cool plans for the next 100 years.”
The paperwork making Lions Club of Steamboat Springs an official charter was presented on Dec. 6, 1922. However, the official document from the International Lions Club was signed by the founding members on Jan. 19, 1923.
Today, the 20 members of Steamboat Springs Ski Town Lions Club carry on the traditions of serving the community inspired by the founding group. The club meets at 11:30 a.m. on second and fourth Tuesdays of every month at The Egg. The Lions also have started hosting a social gathering at 5:30 p.m. on the second Tuesday of every month at Mountain Tap Brewery with hopes of encouraging more community members to join.
Mumm said anyone interested in the group is invited to join the Lions Club at The Egg, 325 Anglers Dr., or Mountain Tap Brewery, 910 Yampa St., suite 103, for more information.
“It’s just a meet and greet where we get together and talk about the club,” Mumm said. “Newcomers get a free lunch or a beer, depending on the event.”
Over the last century, the Lions Club has built a legacy of supporting the community in Steamboat Springs.
Like so many Lions Clubs across the world, Steamboat’s charter follows in the path set by club founder Melvin Jones, who was determined to improve the place he lived and had a particular desire to help those in need by offering eyeglasses and vision screenings.
“We help pay for eyeglasses, and we pay for eye exams for people that can’t afford it,” longtime club member Bob Rowe said. “Our budget for that is $10,000 a year, and we help a lot of kids. We get a lot of referrals from LiftUp of Routt County, and we get referrals from the school nurses.”
But it doesn’t stop there for the Lions.
The local charter also offers scholarships each year to high school seniors headed to college, provides money for the after-prom party at the high school and supports the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps summer camps. The group also provides lunch for volunteers during Routt County Clean Up Day, and club members volunteer their time for efforts like the United Way’s Day of Caring.
“We just focus on the needs of the community,” Mumm said. “Our mission is service.”
Rowe said it’s not uncommon for the club’s 20 members to raise $50,000 to $60,000 a year, and all of that money goes back into the community. The money comes from members, as well as fundraising events like the Fourth of July Pancake Breakfast, which the club runs alongside the Steamboat Springs Boy Scouts.
The club also offers an annual Christmas tree sale, which is one of its biggest fundraising events of the year. The Steamboat Lions also earn money by running concessions at special events, and the club donates to the United Way’s Christmas gift program and buys 1,000 pounds of turkey for those in need at Thanksgiving. The Lions are also involved with the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, support Pine Grove Dental Arts free care for veterans and have adopted Routt County roads in Strawberry Park and on Buffalo Pass.
“I can tell you that probably in 100 years, we’ve probably donated between $2 million and $3 million to the community overall,” Mumm said. “It’s been through other nonprofits that need assistance. It’s been for kids that have special needs and need to go to summer camp and stuff like that. We’re here when people really need something and just can’t afford it.”
The Lions Club recently donated $10,000 to rebuild the playground at Little Toots Park, which will now be called the Steamboat Springs Lions Club Playground. Mumm said the club will also give $1,500 a year to maintain the park in the future.
Mumm said the local Lions Club has about 20 members right now and is looking to rebuild its ranks after COVID-19 took a toll on the club’s membership. He said the Lions Club includes both men and women, and members come from all walks of life.
“It’s a really diversified club with members from all different backgrounds, all ages,” Mumm said. “We have people from professional backgrounds and just typical working-class people who are looking to give back.“
Rowe, who has been an active member of the club for the past 23 years, said the Lions have seen plenty of good times over the years and have overcome many challenges. A rift between members of the Steamboat Lions Club resulted in a split more than three decades ago, creating two different chapters — the Steamboat Springs Lions Club and the Steamboat Springs Ski Town Lions Club.
The two clubs developed different approaches after the split, but eventually the members put their differences aside and merged back together in 2014 under the mission of continuing to serve the community.
The group’s Fourth of July Pancake Breakfast is a tradition for many families living in or visiting Steamboat Springs, and this year the Lions sold out of Christmas trees in just two weeks before the holidays.
Both Mumm and Rowe take pride serving the community in Steamboat Springs, as well as across Routt County, and they said that people should expect more great things from the Lions in the future.
“We’ve got another 100 great years in front of us as well,” Mumm said. “I think we’ve got a really cool future in front of us based on the desire that community members have and want to do through the Lions Club.”
John F. Russell is the business reporter at the Steamboat Pilot & Today. To reach him, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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