About Our Club
We are a club rich in history and tradition. The Ventura Downtown Lions Club, originally called the Lions Club of Ventura, was chartered on April 27, 1923 by such visionaries as Fred W. Smith (president 1933-34) who went on to become President of the International Association of Lions clubs in 1947-48, and Erle Stanley Gardner, famous attorney, writer, and “father” of Perry Mason (protagonist of many murder mystery books and a popular television series).
The past 8 decades have seen many successful fundraising projects initiated by the Ventura Downtown Lions Club. The club has contributed to a variety of local organizations and individuals. A partial list includes camper-ships for deaf children, support for the QUEST and DARE programs in our local schools, scholarships for local students, and annual Thanksgiving food baskets for families in need. Other organizations which have benefited are Meals on Wheels, Project Understanding, Habitat for Humanity, Lions Dennison Park Foundation and Rainbow Park. Sometimes, when money isn’t enough, we roll up our sleeves and get to work. Examples include helping to improve Grant Park, selling–and then donating–live Christmas trees to help beautify our community, and distributing smoke detectors to homes in West Ventura.
Our club has founded two very important foundations for youth. The Cottage Home Foundation, established in 1969, supports the Cottage Home, the only foster home in the United States founded and supported by a local Lions Club. Since 1969, over 200 children have been sheltered and nurtured by the Cottage Home. For over 40 years, the Fred W. Smith Educational Foundation has granted interest-free loans to worthy students in the community who wish to pursue a college degree.
Perhaps best of all, we have fun participating in our fundraising efforts while fulfilling the Lions motto, “We Serve.” A partial list of current projects includes operating the “Bingo Tent” during the Ventura County Fair each August, concession stand activities at the annual City of Ventura Police Block Party, the Ventura Holiday and July 4th Street Fairs, and the annual East/West All Star High School Football Game.
The Ventura Downtown Lions Club is a perfect example of “the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.” Each of us has special and unique talents and skills, that, when combined with the talent and skills of others, allows us to do more as a club than we could ever do as individuals.