By John Pleasants
Saturday May 1, we celebrated fifty years of the Burkeville Lodge at Hooper Park in Crewe.
The day started off kind of bumpy for those who organized the event. First, we found out that we weren’t going to have funnel cakes which we had advertised. Then when the folks who were providing the food got there, the gate was still locked. Luckily, our friend Lion Fred Davis from the Crewe Burkeville Lions got there shortly and we got in and started to work.
We were getting kind of worried when we noticed that the Beer truck wasn’t there at the start of the event, but we finally got word that he couldn’t find us and sent a friend and supporter, (Donna James) to bring him to the park. The final blow was when we realized that the folks who were supposed to provide the Moon Walk and Face Painting for the kids didn’t show up.
The good news is that even though the event got a late start, we had a great line-up of bands and even with the small turnout because of other events going on in the area, the enthusiastic crowd enjoyed the whole day.
I’m happy to say that the Goochland Lions club used the celebration as their first meeting of the month and six members and wives drove down, took a tour of the Lodge and came to enjoy the festivities at Hooper Park. I had been told that they probably wouldn’t stay all day, but they did and we are hoping to do a program for them in the near future.
We had plenty of door prizes, a fifty-fifty raffle, and presented two plaques, one to Hilda Baughan who is the only person who is still living that first attended the first opening of the Lodge June 6, 1960. It should be noted that she is 96 years old, still bowls with the Richmond Blind Bowling League and comes to the Burkeville Lodge almost every time it is opened. The second one was presented to Betty Meredith the Executive Secretary of the Virginia Association of Workers for The Blind who not only runs the day to day operations of the VAWB, but also plans the events at the lodge, cooks for guests, and makes sure everyone has a good visit.
We think that the celebration was a great success despite the fact that we don’t think we broke even. All had a great time and the publicity and support that we got from the local radio stations, newspapers in Farmville, the Charlotte Gazette, and the paper in Blackstone will bring more support for this worthwhile cause down the road, which we need to thank Teresa Smith for her help with this.
Finally, I would like to take the time to thank the Committee of the Richmond Chapter of the Virginia Association of workers for the Blind who planned and funded this celebration, all of the members of the association who volunteered and got door prizes and were there to enjoy the celebration.
I can’t say enough about the Lions who were there to help with parking, selling beer, security and whatever else we might have needed. Let me mention some of them but know that this list is by no means inclusive of every Lion and is not meant to slight anyone, but is rather to utilize what limited space we have in this article.
Our own Art Tyson wore three hats that day, Lion from the Richmond Host Lions, President of the Richmond Chapter VAWB, and beer seller.
Chris and Tom from Blackstone Lions, who kept an eye on things all day, Jay and Denise Overbey from Richmond Host, Mary Bullock from Richmond Host, Bob Hoffman from Newport News Phoebus Lions, and as mentioned above Lion Fred Davis from Crewe- Burkeville who got the venue for us and helped throughout the day. Also, Lion Ann Harris of Varina Lions Club who tried so hard to help get grants for this event.
We had more volunteers who helped including Tom Bove, Jr. who was visiting from New York which was his first visit, of which we hope there will be many more, for he and his dad.
I can’t end this article without thanking my good friend Lion Roy Rotenbury for his support in the Monday Morning News and for coming down from Stuart’s Draft to be with us.
While I’m giving thanks, let me give my heart felt thanks to my wife Faye who did the printing of the history of the Lodge, the programs for the events, helped District Governor Elect Susan Evans design the commemorative pin and so much more that I can’t mention. Without Faye’s tireless efforts this celebration wouldn’t have happened and I thank her for all she did and all she does to help me with everything I’m involved in.
For those in our district who haven’t seen fit to donate to the operation of the Burkeville Lodge, let me say this. I know our clubs have many projects and causes to support, but this is the only facility in the state where blind and visually impaired folks can go for a vacation and feel totally comfortable in their surroundings.
We have about 30 clubs that help support Burkeville Lodge and if we can’t get more support from more clubs there is a danger that we may have to close in about five years. That would be quite a shame for those who enjoy it so much.
Please consider helping us when you can!!!