More than 100 Zionsville students commit to care for their community
Hauling trash, making slushies, hosting VIP children with special needs or providing music at the outdoor worship service, they could be seen everywhere at Zionsville’s Fall Festival. Donned in maroon and gold shirts were hard-working, dedicated volunteers, but not what you might expect.
They were a bunch of kids. They are the new Lions Alpha Leo Club members.
“Leo” stands for Leadership, Experience, and Opportunity with “alpha” members ranging from 12-18 years old, and today at 6:30 p.m. they will be inducted as official charter club members of Lions Club International at the gazebo.
With jam-packed schedules of homework, sports and school activities, why would more than 100 Zionsville youth commit their time and perspiration back to their town? New Leo Club President Anthony Knepp has an idea.
“Everybody wants to get involved in the community and make an impact,” Knepp said. “We are a community-based club so we have kids from all schools, even outside of Zionsville. It’s cool to meet kids I have not met before and even kids in middle school. We can be role models for each other and have fun working together.”
Role models they are, not only for younger students but the entire community with their dedication to Fall Festival and other events such as Street Dance and Brick Street Market. Their role, however, goes beyond serving.
“They are also part “owners” of Lions Park now,” said Leo Advisor and Lions President Leigh Ann Akard. “So their membership in the Lions Club will help inspire them to be good stewards of it.”
Whether hosing out trash cans or filling cracks in parking lot pavement on the hottest day of the summer, these inspiring youth know how integral the park is to the community.
“I grew up playing Little League at the Park,” Leo Vice President Drew Hobick explained when asked of his personal connection. “It is really special to me. I practically live in the Park.”
Although the Leo club is new to Zionsville, it was founded in Pennsylvania in1957 at Abington High School with the Leo motto and its own school colors. Ten years later it was officially adopted by Lions Club International and today, there are more than 5,700 Leo Clubs worldwide. They are a diverse organization and Zionsville’s new Leos are a diverse group – musicians, athletes, scholars all of various ages and interests.
Secretary Holly Ellis enjoys the variety of opportunities.
“I’ve mostly done things around music and I thought it would be a good idea to try something new and expand my views,” she said. “When I went to the park, I didn’t know how much work it took to maintain it. Our work has really opened my eyes.”
Leo members are not only discovering a new appreciation for the Park, but learning valuable life skills in the process. Treasurer Tyler Klein encountered firsthand the importance of planning and budgeting.
“In our first meeting, we thought we would have only 15 or 20 kids,” he said. “But we had 50 and we ran out of pizza. We had to triple the order. I was nervous because I wasn’t sure we had enough money in our account for more pizza.”
Luckily, a generous Lion Club member stepped up and the pizza crisis was quickly averted but could resurface with the 100-plus new Leos now enrolled. Above and beyond just pizza, adult Lions continue to support and mentor these younger members and appreciate the energy and enthusiasm they bring.
“The Leos have been a boost to the morale of the Zionsville Lions Club,” said Akard. “It has been fun to host work days and projects with the Lions working alongside these young adults. It is motivating both the kids to give back to the community, and the Lions Club to invest time into enriching the lives of these young members.”
Vice President Hobick is anxious to get started and sums up the Leos’ mission well.
“This club is to help others,” he said. “The Lions slogan is ‘we serve’ and I’m interested to see what we can and will do. Ideally, I want the Leos to be the talk of the town.”
No doubt, you will be seeing and hearing more from the kids in the maroon and gold shirts.
At a glance
President Anthony Knepp (senior at ZCHS)
Vice President Drew Hobick (sophomore at ZCHS)
Secretary Holly Ellis (senior of ZCHS)
Treasurer Tyler Klein (freshmen at ZCHS)
Student Board of Directors: Spencer Knepp, Will Hobick, Alyssa Fanara, Sarah Howard, Logan Brown and Urban Rapp
Leigh Ann Akard
To learn more and support the Leos efforts please visit www.zionsvillelions.com and click on the Alpha Leo tab.