Shelter Island Reporter editorial: Young lions

Among blood donors last week at the Emergency Medical Services building were members of the Lions Club newly formed Leo Club, who call themselves Simbas. With their teacher and Lions Club member Peter Miedema (back left) are (standing) Owen Gibbs, Jaime Lenzer, Abby Kotula and Stephen Cummings, and (seated) Lydia Shepherd and Jonas Kinsey.

Teaching by example is perhaps the best method to get lessons to sink into young hearts and minds.

The Shelter Island Lions Club does that in many ways, with its most recent venture to encourage school youngsters to give back the induction of a “Leo Club,” the student affiliate of the Lions Clubs.

Calling themselves “Simbas,” 12 Shelter Island School students — sponsored by high school social studies teacher and Lion Peter Miedema — signed up and will spend part of their time on community service.

Guided by Lion Marilynn Pysher, the youngsters will find ways to help the elderly population on the Island in large and small ways, such as shoveling snow and other difficult chores.

With summer coming, and the nonprofit Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League Bucks needing volunteers, the Simbas will be there to help make summer afternoons and evenings easy and enjoyable for Islanders taking in a game.

Ms. Pysher was the leader of the Communities That Care (CTC) organization, which attacked a host of social problems, including youth drinking and drug abuse. Ms. Pysher has been lion-like in her energy and fierce commitment to make the Island exactly what the name of the now defunct CTC stood for.

She was also the driving force in convincing the Town Board to hire a part-time social worker for the town, a resource that was sorely needed.

With Ms. Pysher and Mr. Miedema onboard, the young Lions are off to a great start.

As we asked in this space last June: What would Shelter Island do without the Lions Club? We answered our own question by noting that it would be a less caring and comforting place.

The editorial was in response to the Lions opening the sparkling new pavilion at Wades Beach, a gift to the community that allows the elderly and people with disabilities to have a day at the beach. Wheelchair accessible, the completed facility allows everyone easy access to summer’s fun.

We look forward to hearing more from the Simbas, and hope they can increase their membership, for the benefit of the Island and for themselves, learning valuable lessons they can take with them as they grow into young adults, and make a life-long commitment to their communities.

First chartered in 1950 on Shelter Island, the Lions Club here has never stopped giving back, making their motto — “We Serve” — not just a promise but a reality.