MAHOPAC, N.Y.— Mahopac has become known as a community rich in altruism, with a population that embraces charitable causes and civic activism. So, it seems odd that the Lions Club—one of the country’s most recognized civic organizations—doesn’t have a presence here.
That may be about to change.
Angelo Purcigliott, the membership director for the Lions’ 20R-1 District, which includes Westchester County (north of I-287), along with Putnam and Rockland counties, is on a mission to make it happen. He’s in charge of membership development and starting new clubs where there are none.
“They started a Lions Club in Mahopac back in the 1970s, but it died out around 2010,” he said. “I didn’t know how to make up for what we lost. So, in February, we wrote to the Greater Mahopac/Carmel Chamber of Commerce for their help and they turned out to be extremely helpful and we’ve had a few meetings. They want to promote it and see a Lions Club back in Mahopac.”
Purcigliott is a Carmel resident and member of the Somers Lions Club—one of the most active in the region.
“Over in Somers, we have 124 members in our club,” he said. “You can’t do anything in Somers without the Lions Club having some involvement.”
Globally, the Lions have 46,000-plus clubs in 210 countries and will celebrate their 100th anniversary in June.
“My background is I was district governor 22 years ago; I was elected council chairman; I was CEO for State of New York Lions Club, and in 2008, I was appointed to serve on the international board.”
Purcigliott was appointed to serve Lions Club International for UN Women, the official organization in the UN that promotes gender equality. He notes that 30 years ago, the Lions, which used to be a men-only club, made the decision to allow women to join.
“Women were brought in in 1987 and now a third of the membership is women,” he said. “It’s been quite a change. Next year, we’ll have the first woman president [for the state club].”
Purcigliott said that re-establishing a club in Mahopac has been a goal of his for the past two years.
“It’s been on my radar for a while,” he said. “Some of the members in Somers have businesses in Mahopac and they think it is a good idea, too. They see no reason why we can’t have a club here.”
Purcigliott said that Lions Clubs falter when they fail to recruit new members, which is why the first Mahopac chapter fell by the wayside.
“Leadership doesn’t change and they don’t promote themselves,” he said. “It’s tough to keep one going when you have to be the one who does the work all the time. You need new people coming in. Once you stop doing that, you’ll find yourself in trouble. The same people get stuck every year running the organization and they get burnt out.”
Purcigliott and the Lions have slated a meet-and-greet with the Chamber at Four Brothers restaurant on Friday, April 28, as a first step in getting the new club off the ground. Next, they would like to reach out to the school district to start up a Leo Club (the junior Lions Club) to get youth interested in the organization.
“In Somers, one out of four kids belong to the Leos,” he notes.
Purcigliott said he knows the new club won’t be established overnight, but he remains optimistic that he can bring the Lions back to Mahopac.
“I want to see how [the Chamber mixer] goes and see if we can get it rebooted,” he said. “It’s a project that will take some time to do. We need at least 20 people to get a charter from Lions International. Once we get that going, we have Lions district leaders work with them for two years to make sure the club gets off the ground and is working functionally.”