George Robison and his wife Cindy moved to the Gig Harbor area about 16 years ago and quickly joined the Key Peninsula chapter of the Lions Club; they have been working to enhance the quality of life on the Key ever since. They originally joined in California and have been members of Lions Club International for over 30 years. They are dedicated to the club’s mission of “empowering volunteers to serve their communities, meet humanitarian needs, encourage peace and promote international understanding.”
Robison takes great pride in the contributions the local group has made to the community. He said the club was involved in site preparation and development of the popular Home Park. Many of the club’s most visible efforts on the peninsula have been directed toward Key Pen Parks, especially Volunteer Park.
One such project was building the retaining wall along the driveway entrance to Volunteer Park in 2006. An Eagle Scout installed the first 500 concrete blocks; the remaining 3,000 were set in place by KP Lion volunteers. “That Eagle Scout was my grandson Nicholas,” Robison said.
A larger project at Volunteer Park involved installing drainage and building five retaining walls to prevent bank erosion from the large ball field. The drainage helped dry out what is now the T-ball field.
A bronze plaque will be permanently installed at the entrance to that field to honor club member Rhys Wood. “The field will be renamed the Key Peninsula Lions Memorial Amphitheater,” Robison said.
For over 20 years, the KP Lion’s Club has sponsored an annual Volksmarch at one of the Key Pen Parks. Volksmarching is a noncompetitive form of fitness walking developed in Europe in the 1960s in which participants gather at organized walking events to exercise, sightsee and experience foot travel, sometimes for long distances.
As part of the Volksmarch program at the 360 Trails Park, Robison said the club installed concrete benches, tables and places for hikers to rest while traversing the trails.
One of Robison’s special interests is the Lions Youth Exchange Program. He has chaired the exchange program for Lions Clubs in Washington, Northern Idaho and British Columbia for over a decade, although he said this is the last year for him. Robison arranges host families for young people who are visitors in this region and is always on the lookout for families willing to host, he said.
“I try to place youth in homes on both sides of the mountains, because the cultures are so different. The people are different. The geography is different. The weather is different,” Robison said.
The Youth Exchange Program involves neither employment nor academic study, but is designed to provide the participants the opportunity to be involved in a cultural “immersive learning experience” for four to six weeks to foster international understanding.
Like other Lions Clubs, the local chapter collects eyeglasses for reuse or recycling and helps pay for eye exams and eyeglasses for children and adults who need financial aid. They give dictionaries to local third-graders every year and provide a lesson about the U.S. flag and the Pledge of Allegiance.
For the past 34 years the KP Lions Club has sponsored the Key Peninsula Citizen of the Year Award, a celebratory dinner honoring volunteers nominated to receive the award while raising funds for the club’s numerous programs. (See “Citizen of the Year Dee Dee Kerkes,” KP News, May 2018.)
The KP Lions Club holds public meetings on the first and third Wednesdays of each month at the Key Center Fire Station at 6 p.m.