“We’re looking for [members who have] the time and heart to serve the community, because that’s what the Lions Club is all about. It’s all about local community projects,” said Nick Barnett, president of the Bartow County Lions Club. “The motto of the International Lions Clubs is we serve — that’s the motto. We’re on a global perspective but this is a local community group. ... [So] we’re looking for people that have the time, not so much the money. If you’ve got money that’s great, but [we’re looking for people] who have time and the heart to serve their community.
“... [To be a member], you do have to be a Bartow County resident. ... We’re targeting a more diversified club that’s a younger generation, people under 50, and more females. So that’s what we’re really targeting right now. You’ll find some older clubs that aren’t growing because they haven’t brought females and they haven’t brought people under 50. Let’s just be honest, if you’re in your 70s, the club’s not going to be around 50 years from now if you don’t bring some people that are under 50 years old. So when I was approached from the [Cartersville] Lions Club originally to head this up, that’s what I was asked to do.”
To raise money for several projects, the Lions Club is organizing its first Backyard Bar-B-Que Cookoff Saturday at Sam Smith Park — 1155 Douthit Ferry Road in Cartersville. Teams will check in Friday at 6 p.m. and judging will begin Saturday at 1 p.m. Registration currently is underway for teams wanting to compete and secure a booth space. While the registration fee will be $25 for one category and $5 to enter every additional category, the gate entry cost for the public will be $10 for ages 4 and older.
Along with conducting complimentary eye screenings and surgeries through Georgia Lions Lighthouse in Atlanta and enabling sight-impaired youth to attend summer camp, the barbecue’s proceeds will benefit the Bartow County Lions Club’s first service project — a Braille trail at Dellinger Park.
The idea for the Braille trail was introduced by Cartersville Lions Club member Fred Carlson during a brainstorming session with Bartow County Lions Club members. After researching Braille trails in Fulton County and Savannah, Barnett said this will be an ongoing project for the Bartow County Lions Club. Over time, members will add various items, such as planting trees that will display Braille plaques or installing physical artwork, to an existing path at Dellinger Park in Cartersville.
“We found out that the School for the Blind, specifically some children and youth groups, were being taken to this Braille trail and they can hike,” Barnett said. “There’s a rope that’s usually used to lead it. And every so often there may be a post with some kind of plaque or Braille, some sort of reading, so that they can actually go out and experience some nature too. Apparently it’s a huge hit. I spoke to a few people [associated with] the Fulton one and the one way down [in] south Georgia and they talked about how many people come to this every year.
“... [The children] all either [have] a service dog or they’ve got someone who comes with them to lead them. They get to hike and they get to experience some little things that we might take for granted, people who don’t have any sight issues. Fred Carlson spoke with someone at Dellinger Park and they said they were willing to let us start one at Dellinger Park and we [are] super excited about that.”
For Cartersville Parks & Recreation Department Director Greg Anderson, the Braille trail will help broaden Dellinger Park’s offerings to a greater portion of the population.
“It would enhance the trail for people that have blindness of if they’re declared legally blind,” Anderson said. “I know our Etowah Riverwalk, where we have our road crossing, those are the Braille signs. It shows that there is an upcoming intersection. So we have some of those things [but overall] our signs do not have Braille. So that would enhance them for another segment of the population that could use our trails.”
For more information about joining the Bartow County Lions Club or to participate in Saturday’s barbecue benefit, email firstname.lastname@example.org, visit its Facebook page or call 770-547-9106. The club meets every other Tuesday, starting with the second Tuesday of each month, at 7 p.m.