Lions Club leaders visit Rocky Hock
By Miles Layton
and Rebecca Bunch
Wednesday, August 8, 2018
ROCKY HOCK — A determination to serve wherever she could has led Tyrrell County resident Gwen White to a prestigious role as a Lions Club International Director who is traveling the world to spread the message about the important work the organization is doing.
White, who along with her husband was a special guest at a recent installation ceremony held by the Rocky Hock Lions Club, said she wasn't quite sure how she rose to the highest level of Lionism except that she has served wherever she could – even in the days before women were accepted as Lions Club members.
“I've been blessed to represent Lions and to help the blind, visually and hearing impaired, and working for others,” she said. “My husband Rhett and I have been involved with Lions now for 49 years. He was a charter member of the Columbia Lions in 1969. Women were not allowed to join but we wives worked beside our husbands and did the same things they did. It didn't bother us that we could not join. I served wherever I could.”
White, who is one of 34 International Directors, said she officially became a member of the Lions in 1994 and from there served in a variety of offices including serving as editor of the statewide Lions newspaper, then district level chairmanships. In 2010 she was asked to serve as district governor of the Lions.
“That's when my leadership on a new level began,” she said. “The state leadership asked me to run for international director. I did. I had opposition from a man in the western portion of the state, but won which set me up to run internationally. I had opposition again and won again. I've been blessed and I love serving.”
White's term is for the two years from 2017-2019. She will go out of office in Milan, Italy.
“Between now and July 1, 2019 I will be traveling 31 weekends and speaking at conventions,” she said. “Some of the places I have traveled include Dubai, India, Japan, Thailand, Korea, New Zealand, Australia, England, Canada and in all 50 states of the United States.”
Still, White said she is a firm believer that there's no place better than home.
“I love traveling but there is no place like home and I love the sense of small town and quiet where everyone knows everybody and you can stop and talk in the middle of a street,” she said. “I wouldn't trade my home for these other areas. The people make the difference.”
White said that in her final year as a director she was pleased the focus of the Lions' work would be to find a way to eradicate diabetes as that is a major cause of blindness.
During their visit to the Rocky Hock Lions, White and her husband inducted two new members, Karen Dammeyer and Jeff Dammeyer, who were sponsored by Lion Frances Jordan.
Rhett White talked with the Lions about the LEO Clubs, in particular the one he helped charter in 2014 at John A. Holmes High School. He presented the John A. Holmes LEO Club Charter to then-Principal Sheila Evans and inducted the new LEO officers for 2014-2015. This year the remaining charter members will be graduating. White, a past district governor for the Lions organization, also presented a Certificate of Scholarship from the Rocky Hock Lions Club to charter LEO member Katie Layden.
After the new members were inducted and the Certificate of Scholarship was presented, Rocky Hock Lions Club President Pat Smith presented a Certificate of Appreciation to Gwen and Rhett White.
Anyone interested in learning more about the work of the Lions organization is encouraged to contact Gwen White at (252) 202-2329.