SOMERS, N.Y. - The Somers Lions Club has a new leader of the pack.
And she’s roarin’ to go.
Officially installed on July 1, Tracy Christen Reimann said she’s proud to be following in the footsteps of local pioneer Ellen Purcigliotti.
When the Lions formed in 1917, its membership was exclusively male, a common practice the time. As it grew, women, particularly Lions spouses—embraced the mission and began forming auxiliary clubs.
Because of their success, Lions Clubs International developed the Lioness Program and emblem in 1975. In 1987, it amended its constitution to admit both men and women.
And in 1996, the Lioness Bridge Program and thousands of women took advantage of the opportunity and became Lions when their clubs transitioned into full-fledged Lions Clubs.
The Somers Lions Club was founded in 1956. Forty years later, Purcigliotti became a Lion and, in 2000, its first female president.
Reimann is Somers’ second.
Purcigliotti was said to be instrumental in increasing the number of female members. Now an estimated third of the 100-plus members are women, according to Paul LaSpina, who was president from 2017-2018.
The Lions come from many walks and stages of life. They are teachers, business people, lawyers, retirees—“almost every known profession,” said Reimann, an attorney who specializes in elder care as well as estate and business planning.
The one thing they all have in common is a desire to help those in need.
It’s a mission that has become especially crucial as more people are suffering financially due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“COVID-19 is hitting everybody,” Reimann said. “We want people to know we’re here, we’re a resource, we can help them.”
The Lions have ramped up their food distribution program and are continuing to hold events such as car raffles and the recent Chase for Charity to raise funds for organizations such as Friends of Karen, Guiding Eyes, Drug Crisis in Our Backyard and My Brother Vinny.
Reimann says one or her goals will be to encourage greater inclusion and diversity.
The more different people are, the more “ideas they bring to the table,” she said.
It’s especially important for the future of the organization that younger people join, she added.
An adviser for the local LEO Club, a high school offshoot of the Lions, for eight years, Reimann stepped down to focus on her new duties.
Leo, stands for Leadership, Experience, Opportunity. Its young volunteers take part in various projects, covering areas such as health care, elder assistance, special needs initiatives, literacy, education and self-development.
Reimann’s late husband, Herbert, a CPA and pillar of the Lions, chaired the group’s annual carnival and masterminded the Halloween Trail of Terror at Reis Park. Nicknamed the “Herbinator,” he was known for his boundless energy and ability to keep things running smoothly behind the scenes
After his death in 2018 at the age of 55, a scholarship fund was set up in his name for high school students deemed “unsung heroes.”
An affiliate of Lions Club International, it is the world’s largest service organization with more than 46,000 clubs and 1.4 million members.
According to the new president, more and more of those joining are in their 20s. The latest three were businesswomen.
“We don’t network to get more clients or gain recognition,” said Reimann, adding that members band together because there’s strength in numbers.
Together they can help more people.
“This is what we do, we serve,” she said.
If interested in joining, visit somerslionsclub.org.