The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

Pullman Lions Club serves Pullman for over 80 years

Club hosts events, does community construction and more
Pullman Lions Club members Girard Clark, Deb Heston, Jon Whitman, Mike Sodorff and Chris Chandler At Neill’s Coffee and Ice Cream, Pullman, Wash.

A pact of familyhood from a club has kept Pullman running for 84 years.

Pullman Lions Club originated from the Lions Club International Organization, which Melvin Jones started in 1917 in Chicago. The goal was to strengthen and provide for the well-being of communities through humanitarian services, according to the Lions Club website. There are currently 50,000 Lions Clubs around the world.

Stephen Heston, Pullman Lions Club president, said the Lions Club Organization initially helped the blind. The club donates things to help with eyesight and has a mobile eye test unit they lend to neighboring communities.

“We go to schools and test kids for eyesight and then as a club, we donate eyewear for people that need it in the community,” Heston said.

Pullman Lions Cub has a far reach in the community and does not stop at supporting the blind.

The club also provides service to the community through construction projects that help improve Pullman. Heston said they built park benches around Pullman, which the club maintains, and structures at the Whitman County Humane Society.

“We’ve been in Pullman for about 84 years which is long before my time,” he said. “The motto of the Lions Club is we serve, so we kind of do everything service-wise for the community.”

Pullman Lions Club has a long-standing history in Pullman that is reflective of the club’s developed friendships and family ties, which date back to the ‘70s and ‘80s.

While both of Heston’s parents are involved in the club, it was his dad’s involvement that influenced his decision to join. Heston saw his dad’s commitment to community engagement early on as a child when building dugouts at Pullman High School.

“My dad thought he should help out since me and my sister were playing and benefiting from that,” Heston said. “He was helping out so much they told him he should join the club, so that’s what he did.”

For members Jon Whitman, 81, Girard Clark, 72, Mike Sodorff, 73, and Deb Heston, 62, they have seen Pullman Lions Club continue to grow throughout the years and the lasting impact the club has had on Pullman families and people.

Sodorff said he joined the club in 1974 after his father-in-law asked him to. He said he knew the Lions Club was a service club but did not know anything else beyond that. Though Sodorff knew little about the club initially, he now holds every memory close through the countless experiences he has shared with other members over the years.

“I’m getting emotional about this, but I’ve enjoyed every minute of it,” Sodorff said. “The meetings were fine and the work part of it was just sensational with Jon, Girard and the guys because they were very experienced.”

Whitman, who joined in 1987, said the club’s recent efforts have gone to helping single parents. The club provides meals for the weekend with a program in one of the schools, he said.

Whitman said the club works with that program in both home and child welfare.

“We’ve kind of tried to spread ourselves around a lot of the different areas that we feel like there’s a need for where people aren’t so fortunate,” Whitman said.

Pullman Lions Club member Chris Chandler dressed as Santa during the Santa Sled drive, Pullman, Wash.

While the Pullman Lions Club does a lot of community construction, they are also known for bringing people together for their holiday festivities. One of the common traditions for the holidays involves Santa Claus driving through Pullman on a car-pushed sled.

Sodorff said the club has done the Santa tradition since the late ‘40s and has continued ever since.

“We used to have different volunteer Santa Clauses on every night,” Sodorff said.

While a lot of memories have been made throughout Sodorff, Whitman, Clark and Heston’s times with the club, they all cherish the Santa sled tradition the most due to the joy it brings to families and children.

“You can see the older people in the windows waving,” Heston said.

Heston, who has spent most of her time as the club’s secretary and CEO, said the Santa tradition is a special memory because she enjoyed running the sleigh with Santa and watching the excited kids.

“It’s the community and these guys are the hardest working group I’ve ever seen,” she said. “If you want something done, they would give the shirt off their back for somebody to get it done because they have the biggest hearts.”

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