MAHOPAC, N.Y. - Somers Lion Ellen Purcigliotti is now the district governor for District 20R1, which encompasses Northern Westchester, Putnam and Rockland counties.
Purcigliotti’s district represents about 30 clubs and more than 800 Lions.
In addition to furthering the Lions’ global goals of diabetes awareness, hunger, environmental issues, childhood cancer and vision, Purcigliotti announced that she plans to launch several new initiatives locally involving women and children and mobilizing disaster relief programs.
Purcigliotti volunteered for the district governor position to cover an unexpected vacancy and will serve for the next year.
Twenty-two years ago, Purcigliotti became the second woman to serve in the Somers Lions after the organization started allowing women to join in 1987.
While her husband, Angelo, had been a lion, Purcigliotti said she chose to join when she realized she could start a Leos club at Lakeland High School where she taught both social studies and leadership.
“I had no intent of becoming a Lion; my husband had been a Lion; but it occurred to me that my students, who were just extraordinary kids, could become Leos and I could start a Leo Club, but in order to do that, I had to be a Lion,” Purcigliotti said.
In 2000, she became the first woman president of the Somers Lions and has helped grow membership of women to be about 25 percent of the Somers organization.
As for becoming the district governor, Purcigliotti said she waited first to see if someone else would step forward.
“It became evident two weeks before the convention that we were going to have a district without a district governor,” Purcigliotti said. “I looked at my husband and said, ‘I know this is going to be a lot of work,’ and he said ‘We have to do it.’”
Before stepping up to take on the district governor role, Purcigliotti headed many committees and held leadership positions.
She was the cabinet secretary for Past District Governor Anthony Paradiso (New City) and zone chair for Past District Governor Dave Brown (Bedford Hills) and Past District Governor Barbara Chuck (Nanuet). Additionally, she was the liaison for The Vision Center for Blindness and a Journey for Sight Coordinator for Westchester and Putnam counties. Currently, she’s the Diabetes Awareness Coordinator for 20R1.
As a Somers Lion, she chairs the Community Service Scholarship Committee for high school seniors who reside in the town of Somers, and who have demonstrated a serious commitment to service. In the past 10 years, this committee has awarded more than $100,000 in scholarships to honor the memory of deceased Somers Lions.
She still is involved in education too, as a student teacher supervisor for SUNY New Paltz.
Though she knew taking on the district governor position would consume a big chunk of her time, Purcigliotti was determined not to give up her passion of taking piano lessons while serving.
“It’s so important for a senior citizen to do something compelling and to get those neurons firing,” Purcigliotti said.
Purcigliotti is hosting a meet and greet for her district at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 6 at Four Brothers restaurant at 654 Route 6, in Mahopac. Purcigliotti will be there along with zone and region chairs. It will be an opportunity for Lions to learn about the efforts of the local and global organizations.