The Waterloo Chamber of Commerce recently announced the 2019 winner of its highest honor.
After going to an individual – Brad Papenberg – last year, the chamber gave its Community Service Award to a group this year: the Waterloo Lions Club.
“The Lions make significant contributions to their community through their time, actions, talents and dedication,” the chamber said when announcing the award. “The Community Service Award is a small way of saying thank you for the valuable work they do in our community. The Lions’ dedication to improving our community is truly commendable, and the Waterloo Chamber of Commerce appreciates how they have made giving their mission.”
The club is grateful for the recognition, even if that is not why it does its work.
“I think it’s phenomenal,” club secretary Sherry Cates said of the award. “It’s an honor to be selected for that award. It shows we’re out there doing what we do and that our hard work pays off.”
“It’s a great honor,” past-president and current board member George Obernagel agreed. “The club is excited to receive the Community Service Award.”
This is the second major award in as many years for the club, as it won a Governor’s Hometown Award in 2018 for its signature project of providing Thanksgiving meals to those in need called Share the Feast.
“You see a lot of families come in with that,” Obernagel noted before pointing out the Valmeyer Lions Club assists with that work. “It just brightens their day.”
Founded in 1951, the Waterloo Lions Club also helps with myriad other causes and projects, including volunteering with Martha’s Kitchen, purchasing hearing aids and glasses for those in need, installing park benches around town, co-sponsoring the Porta Westfalica Festival and Waterloo Homecoming and providing funding for youth scholarships.
“Those are all good projects,” Obernagel said.
In recent years, the club also helped build the handicap-accessible fishing pier at Lakeview Park in Waterloo. Additionally, it is responsible for filling 44 volunteer slots each year at the Monroe County Fair.
“That shows we’re out there helping,” Cates said. “We’re out and about, always trying to serve our community.”
Obernagel said all that work would not have been possible without the contributions of the club’s dozens of members.
“Waterloo’s club is very well-rounded,” he said. “Everybody helps out.”
The Lions were to be honored during the chamber’s annual dinner originally scheduled for March 19, but that event was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The event is now set to take place sometime in the fall.
“The Lions were chosen because of their outstanding community involvement, social and civil responsibility,” chamber president Ryan Osterhage said. “Their ongoing support helps strengthen and ensure the prosperity of our great city.”