District 14 U International Association of Lions Clubs honored members and celebrated the successes of the past year at the 20th annual District Convention held this past weekend at the Best Western East Mountain Inn and Conference Center.

The event opened with a necrology service on Friday night that recognized the previous year's deceased Lions, Lioness and Leos and continued on Saturday with special speakers, luncheon and evening banquet and concluded on Sunday with the Melvin Jones Fellow breakfast.

Robert Miller, Past International Director (PID), of West Penn Township, was the master of ceremonies during the luncheon banquet and Ed Dudley, PDG, also of West Penn Township, was the master of ceremonies at the evening banquet.

During the luncheon, David E. Stoufer, PID, from Washington, Iowa, addressed the Lions and invited members to recognize "spark plugs," which are those younger members who "spark" ideas for fundraisers and service in the community that would otherwise be missed. Stoufer also reminded club members to remember to thank other members for their hard work in the club. He said that one way was to present "Spark Club" awards.

Stoufer has received numerous awards including the International President's Award and International President's Leadership Award. Past Director Stoufer has presented at three USA/Canada Lions Leadership Forums and two regional Lions Leadership Institutes. He is also a Progressive Melvin Jones Fellow.

Stoufer assisted District Governor Scott Dudley in presenting awards and recognitions.

Dudley said that every year several clubs in District 14 U sponsor Peace Poster Contests. The winners are then entered in the District Contest. The 2011 winner of the 14 U Peace Poster Contest, Kimberly Ray of Weatherly, who was sponsored by the Weatherly Lions Club was recognized and presented a check for $100 from the Lions of District 14 U.

"One of the best parts of being your District Governor is having the opportunity to thank you for all you do as Lions to help those in need in our four-county area," said Dudley. "My way of thanking all of you also involves recognizing some of you by giving awards and presenting fellowships in your name."

Dudley then presented the PA Counsellors Award to Robert Hayman. The PA Counsellors Award was established by Multiple District 14 Organization of Past District Governors to honor Lions who have worked on the club or district levels and who have never received an International award. Haymen is a 28 year member of the Mahoning Lions Club.

"He is at just about every meeting of his club and works on every project and fundraiser," said Dudley. "His work has resulted in raising thousands of dollars for District 14 U sight projects by sorting eyeglasses to reclaim the precious metals. Haymen said that his project to separate the eyeglasses from the lens and recycle the metal has raised over $10,000."

Dudley then named Don McConnell, president of the Tobyhanna-Newfoundland Lions Club as a Lions of Pennsylvania Fellow.

Dudley said that the Lions of Pennsylvania Foundation was established to provide support for Pennsylvania projects involving sensory impairment. This Foundation is supported in a large part by the Lions of Pennsylvania Fellowship Program.

"On the donation of $500, a Lion may be named a Lions of Pennsylvania Fellow," added Dudley. "This honors the recipient for commitment to service as well as providing service to the sensory impaired through the sponsored projects.

Dudley then presented a Melvin Jones Fellowship to three individuals.

Dudley said that Lions Clubs International Foundation is the charitable arm of the association. He said that much of its funding comes from Melvin Jones Fellowships.

"A Melvin Jones Fellow may be named upon the donation of $1,000 to LCIF by a club, by a district or by an individual," he said. "However the donation is made it gives LCIF to ability to help those in need throughout the world. It could help a family whose lives were torn apart by a tornado in Joplin, or provide pleasure for a handicapped child who now has a play ground where he can play on equipment that is accessible to him."

The first Melvin Jones Fellowship was presented to Gail Maholick, who has been a Lion for eight years.

"She is passionate about helping those in need and passionate about Lionism." said Dudley. "Faced with a challenge this Lion works tirelessly until the goal has been not only accomplished but also exceeded. She is a great recruiter of new Lions and is responsible for the formation and growth of the Beltzville Lions Club."

His second recognition was a Progressive Melvin Jones Fellowship presented to Diana Delay, who is both membership chairman and club treasurer and has sponsored four new Lions.

Dudley said that a progressive Melvin Jones Fellow is named when a donation of $1,000 is made in the name of an individual who already has a Melvin Jones Fellowship.

"Delay is energetic and is willing to take on any job that must be done and demands perfection of herself in doing it," said Dudley.

Also presented a Progressive Melvin Jones Fellowship was Palmer Geist who has been a Lion for 22 years and has served as treasurer of his club and sponsored four new members.

"Geist has served on numerous club and district committees," said Dudley. "On the state level he has served on the Beacon Lodge Committee and the Hearing Conservation Committee and he has also served as registration chairman for our District Convention for several years.

Presented the International Presidents Certificate of Appreciation, which is the fourth highest award in Lionism and the highest honor that can be conveyed at the convention was Lions George Barthelenghi. Barthelenghi has served two terms and club president, four as club secretary and he has sponsored six members. He is also a member of the Success Team of the Global Membership Team.

Dudley then recognized Region I Chairman Ron Nier, who has been a Lion for 15 years. Nier has served as club president and on several district committees including two terms as extension chairman.

Dudley then recognized Charlie Zimmerman, who has been a Lion for seven years and has sponsored eight new members. He has served as both club president and Zone Chairman.

"Most significantly Zimmerman spent countless hours serving his community following the devastating floods in Pine Grove last September as coordinator of the LCIF Disaster Relief Grant," said Dudley.

The final award on Saturday afternoon was presented to Judy Miller who has 12 years of service and has served Lionism on the local and state levels much longer than that. She was presented the International Presidents Certificate of Appreciation.

"Lion Jody Miller does and excellent job as the District 14 U Cabinet treasurer," said Dudley.

Keynote speaker at the evening banquet was Rachel Nicola, PDG, who received the Lions Clubs International Leadership Award and Presidential Awards medals. She is a Progressive Melvin Jones Fellow and a Progressive Warren Coleman Award recipient, a recognition given to Iowa Lions for their support of the Iowa Lions Foundation.

The District Lions recognitions did not end at the Saturday evening banquet. On Sunday morning, Dudley presented a Pennsylvania Counsellors Award to Lion Alicia Silliman of Jim Thorpe. Silliman, has been a Lion for 16 years, has brought in three new members, served as club president and as zone chair for Lions, among her many services to Lions and the community.

A surprise guest was then escorted into the end-of-convention breakfast. It was none other than Melvin Jones, founder of Lions a century ago and for whom the Melvin Jones Fellowship is named. As of February 2012, District 14 U has 441 Melvin Jones Fellows, some of which are Progressive Melvin Jones. And that bespeaks a lot of giving, caring and serving by, for and through the Lions of District 14 U.