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Friday, October 24, 2014
Neighbors
Leo’s Club makes it mark
Teen service group is affiliated with community-minded Lions
Courtesy T.J. Anand
Leo’s Club members mingled with guests at the Lion’s Club dance for the visually impaired at St. Joseph’s School in Hewlett.

Serving the community has long been the mission of the Valley Stream Lions Club, a group of dedicated men and women who meet twice a month to think up ways to help others.

Now, they are trying to build the next generation of volunteers. The Valley Stream chapter of Lions International has launched its own Leo’s Club, a group for high school students interested in serving their community. So far, the group is nearly two dozen strong and is already starting to make an impact.

Since the Leo’s Club launched late last year, students have taken part in numerous community service activities. They have helped plant trees in New York City through the Million Trees Initiative, volunteered at the Interfaith Nutrition Network soup kitchen in Hempstead, and collected items for a back-to-school drive. They also have started a mentoring program with a local elementary school.

Additionally, members have helped the Lions Club with some of its events, including a food drive at Key Food in North Valley Stream, the annual dance for the visually impaired, and a pancake breakfast.

Jose Pastrana, president of the Valley Stream Lions Club, said he is impressed with the group’s efforts so far. “They basically work like a Lions Club,” he said. “They’re all good kids. They’re dedicated. This is what they want to do.”

Most of the students come from Elmont Memorial High School where one of their advisors, Athena Allen, is a teacher. Allen joined the Lions Club last year after learning about the organization from Pastrana, and was excited about the opportunity to help start up a Leo’s Club.

“The Leo’s Club really focused on leadership and giving them the tools to be young leaders in the community,” said Allen, who shares the advisor duties with fellow Lion Janet Mahabir.

Pastrana and Allen both say that they want the Leo’s Club to become, essentially, an independent organization. While the Valley Stream Lions Club will continue to be its sponsor, they want the students to make their own decisions and come up with their own community service projects. The Lions Club, Pastrana said, should merely be there for support.

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