Nothing Fishy About this Idea

The Lions in Mt. Washington, Kentucky, host more than 30 fundraising fish fries a year, selling more than 15,000 pieces of fresh fish.

For the people in their area south of Louisville that means there are multiple opportunities to get a good dinner while supporting a great cause. But for members of the Mt. Washington, Inc. club, every fish fry also meant several volunteers were needed just to haul fryers, product, and other equipment back and forth from the Lions’ clubhouse to the event site. It could take hours.

Lions Donald Jessie and Scott Vincent came up with an idea to change that, modernizing and streamlining their operation. With the club’s new custom-designed, all-in-one 26-foot cooking trailer, two people can pick up, deliver, and set up for the fish fry in about 30 minutes.

Jessie and Vincent, lead volunteers on the project, located a trailer for sale in Georgia and hauled it home to Kentucky. Then each spent at least 80 hours embellishing it to meet all their club needs, aiming for not just a good-looking trailer, but a highly functional one. Several club members and local businesses pitched in to make the transformation a reality.

“The main thing was to try and use every square inch of it,” says Vincent. “It’s like anything you do. You envision it and it’s great when you see it come to reality.”

The new Lions trailer has four deep fryers, one full size chest freezer, two refrigerators, six 10-pound propane tanks, and a generator. Aluminum shelving with doors, designed for free by a local fabricator, keeps the weight of the trailer down and allows the Lions to organize and store everything from warming lights to bread racks.

One key detail was making sure the trailer would fit into the club building, says Vincent. It did, but only by a few inches.

In addition to the Lions’ monthly fries and their attendance at local events like the Mount Washington Spring Fest, every year the club holds a fish fry on-site at each of the eight area schools. Lions provide the fish and the trailer, and the students provide the volunteer help.

The Lions have also appreciated the support of the Lionesses of Mt. Washington who provide homemade pies and cakes at many of their fish fries.

On the back, the new trailer says “Follow Us To The Fish Fry.” Why not? With the new setup they can have 40 pieces of fresh fish ready in five minutes.

That’s at least enough to get the party started.

Lions Donald Jessie and Scott Vincent are the men behind their club's custom 26-foot cooking trailer.

Paradise Is Not Lost

California’s catastrophic Camp Fire in November burned more than 150,000 acres, killing 86 people and destroying close to 20,000 structures. Thousands of people fled for their lives.

It was the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in the state’s history.

But one thing remains unable to be destroyed by flames. That’s hope, hope that altered lives can slowly be healed, homes can be rebuilt, and a devastated community can be restored.

The Lions of California Grass Valley Gold Country, about 80 miles south of the fire range, wanted to share in that dream. They designed a calendar to show what can be again.

“There is always hope that will rise from the ashes,” says Club President Tom Parilo.

Their “Paradise is Not Lost” calendar fosters that hope, month by month, and through the sale of it the Lions have earned US$11,500 to support the displaced families and businesses that are victims of the fire.

While the cover features dramatic images of the fire, a cleanup crew, and burning structures, the inside pages of the calendar reinforce the joy that has historically been a part of living in Paradise and the neighboring foothill towns of Butte County.

Lions worked with a photographer and the local newspaper to access archived photos of happier days including the winter ice rink, Paradise Gold Nugget Day, and swimming at Paradise Lake in Magalia.

Lion Ken Eslik, the project chair, says their work became a community effort with support from about 30 merchants, 12 Lions clubs, two newspapers, the local radio station, and a school.

“We wanted to do our part to help survivors recover, and this was just our little way of trying to help,” says Eslik. “It’s truly a community effort, and it’s a reflection of the giving hearts of those we live among.”

Lions Helping Lions

“How can clubs like the Paradise Host Lions keep going when it’s taking 100 percent of their energy to help the community?” asks Jackson [California] Lions Club President Mike Bohl.

Well, the Lions will help them.

In June, about seven months after the devastating fire in northern California, members of the Jackson Lions drove 135 miles to treat the Paradise Host Lions and their hardworking community guests to a tri-tip dinner.

The restaurant where the Paradise club regularly met had burned to the ground, so they weren’t sure where they would host the dinner. But the Paradise Elks, whose lodge had also been destroyed by fire, came to their aid. The Elks had leased a new building and were happy to allow the Lions to use it for an evening.

The Jackson Lions Club also led District 4A1’s 55 Lions clubs in collecting funds to help seed the treasury for the Paradise Host Lions who have been unable to run normal fundraisers, said Bohl in early spring. They expected to surprise the Paradise club with US$5,000.