Youthful Lions Club forms at Pitt

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As a boy, Matt Bohince volunteered with the youth Leo Club sponsored by the Trafford Lions Club and helped in community projects, such as picking up litter and helping senior citizens.

As a student at the University of Pittsburgh he wanted to continue making a difference in his community, so Mr. Bohince, 20, formed his own club.

Sunday, the University of Pittsburgh Lions Club celebrated its chartering with a ceremony in the Pitt Student Union attended by 70. In addition, 23 of the new club's 35 members were installed.

But the club's activities began months earlier: members volunteered at a monthly soup kitchen in East Liberty and at the Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children in Oakland.

Members also conducted a collection drive for eyeglasses -- fighting blindness is a signature Lions mission -- netting 263 pairs.

"Knowing we are making a difference is what pushes me to work hard," Mr. Bohince, of Oakland, said.

The age range of the new club's members is 18 to 24, the youngest Lions club in Allegheny County.

"I'm excited because it brings youthful input into the organization and re-energizes the whole district," club mentor Geoff Temple said.

He is immediate past district governor for District 14-B, which encompasses 37 Lions clubs in Allegheny County, and he is secretary of the Pleasant Hills Lions Club.

Founded in 1917 and headquartered in Oak Brook, Illinois, Lions Clubs International is the world's largest service club organization, with 1.35 million members in more than 46,000 clubs worldwide.

Mr. Bohince, a junior pursuing a double major of accounting and human resources, became involved with the Lions as a middle-schooler after hearing of its good deeds through a family friend in his hometown of Level Green.

As a college student aware that neither his university nor the Oakland area had a club, he contacted District 14-B for assistance in forming one.

When he learned some fellow students were interested, he said he was off and running. The club was recognized by the university last spring, and by the Lions in November.

Future activities include a canned food collection in March and participation in the Relay for Life of the University of Pittsburgh fundraising walk to combat cancer on April 12.

Mr. Bohince, who serves as club president, said as Lions clubs typically attract older people, his group fills an important niche.

"We feel we are bridging the generation gap," he said. "We can help older Lions with physical work, and they help us with advice and resources to help us fund our projects."

Details: Meetings are held in the school's Student Union on various days. Visit www.pittlions.org, or email upittlions@gmail.com.

neigh_city - neigh_east - neigh_westmoreland

Margaret Smykla, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.


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