By DAMON WOODS
Special To The Leader
The Oakdale Lions wish to thank The Oakdale Leader for access to their archive library which was instrumental in preparing this history.
The 1960’s was a decade of change for America and in similar fashion, so it was with the Oakdale Lions and the Oakdale Community. The major events of the decade of the 1960’s includes – the Space Race, Rock and Roll, Assassinations, Protests, Vietnam, Medicare, Civil Rights Act, Moon Landing, and several other events that helped to shape our world to what it is today.
Back in Oakdale, the Oakdale Lions Club was establishing itself as a service organization with a mission. To improve the lives of the Oakdale community, with a focus on youth. In its third decade now, the Oakdale Lions were evolving with the change of the 1960’s.
Services provided that were performed each year include: Eyeglass support – providing eye exams and eyeglasses for kids whose parents could not afford this needed service. Student Speaker Contest/Scholarships. Camp Scholarships for girls and boys to attend summer camps to keep kids occupied and challenged. AFS exchange student support to help those students who wanted to expand their horizons beyond Oakdale. Food and clothing provided to the needy during the holidays.
Standard fundraisers were utilized to raise funds for the standard service projects and one time, or new standardized programs. These included: Gum Machines, Pancake Breakfast, Birthday Calendar fundraisers. Some added fundraisers included: Flag support by merchants, fireworks sales, Christmas tree sales, donations for the troops, and many more.
New or one time service projects included: School Playground additions/renovations at Cloverland and Fair Oaks Elementary Schools and Oakdale High School (lights on tennis courts). Park additions and renovations for: Kerr Park (lights for ball field, BBQ pits and Picnic tables for Kerr/Wood/Santa Fe/Dorada; sprinkler system for Dorada Park, Bleachers at Kerr Park – these additions were often funded and built by the Lions. Rural House numbering project, Christmas packages for the troops, Used Eyeglass collections to be sent to India and the Philippines, Senior services for seniors needing a helping hand.
New services that are still going on today include: Holiday Flag Display which has become a trademark for the Oakdale Lions. This program is the most visible program that the Lions have carried on since the mid 1960’s.
The Wheelchair lending program also started during the 1960’s. Over the years, the Oakdale Lions have added to the inventory of items available for loan (there is no charge to the recipients of this program, however it is intended as a temporary lending program with durations of a few days to about three months. Other items available today include bath chairs, walkers and larger wheelchairs. For more information about this program, visit the Oakdale Lions Website, under Contact US for a specific contact for wheelchairs.
And, one last note – during the early 1960’s, the Oakdale Lions were challenged by the State of California’s Tax Authority – and after a long audit and court proceeding, the Oakdale Lions lost their appeal and were charged a fine for not collecting sales tax at their annual pancake breakfast. The odd issue here was that other clubs were not challenged, only the Oakdale Lions Club. The annual assessment of tax in 1961 was approximately $35.00. This continued to be an added cost for the Oakdale Lions until they created a foundation under the IRS tax code 501c non-profit in 1999.
Total value of goods and services provided to the Community of Oakdale, including funds raised and adjusted for inflation to 2017 and labor hours estimated times a rate of $22.00/hour (double the current minimum wage) through 1969 is: $3.7 million.
The Oakdale Lions Club is marking its 75th anniversary this year and, as part of the celebration, Lion Damon Woods is compiling a history of the organization. Look for his articles the first Wednesday of each month in The Leader, as the actual anniversary date approaches.