Special Note on Eyeglasses & Hearing Aids
Lakewood First Lions continues to collect these items for refurbishing. We do not provide them directly to individuals.
Regular Meetings (open to drop-by guests)
2nd & 4th Mondays of every month
All meetings held at noon at:
The Ram Restaurant
10013 59th Ave. SW
Lakewood, WA 98499
Lakewood First Lions members adhere to two guiding philosophies – Serve the community and relish the fun and camaraderie. We have been successful at both. Live Like a Lion is more than a slogan - it's a calling.
Like all service organizations our club has varied in size over the years. What hasn't varied is our commitment to the mission of Lions Clubs International and to the needs of our community.
Again next year our community will benefit from the proceeds received at this year's Crab Feed event and other fundraisers held throughout the year.
To learn how you can turn your spare time into a valued benefit to your community, check out "Membership" page.
See how Lions are organized on our "Club Structure" page
For a few years now Lakewood First Lions have managed to squirrel away $20,000 in a special account, and they have been itching to get it working for them. The money had been raised through a number of fundraising events and pegged for use on a Springbrook Park multi-use shelter. Though the project had been coordinated with the City of Lakewood a few years ago, it faced a few delays while the Parks and Recreation Department processed grant requests and engineering designs for their own expansion plans for the park. Then a few properties adjacent to the park became available, adding additional delays as the City arranged funding.
Club members were delighted to get an update at their Monday noon meeting at the RAM in Lakewood from Lakewood's Parks and Recreation Director, Mary Dodsworth. Most of the funding and paper work has been completed and construction scheduled for this year. The rebuilding of the park will take place in two phases, with the first phase scheduled for completion by early summer.
While it is hoped the shelter part of the project will be included in the first phase, depending on many contingencies, it is certain to be done by year's end. That is good enough for Lions members who had begun to forget the project was even on the clubs agenda. Along with the $20,000 raised by the club, another $5,000 was committed by Partners for Parks in support of the badly needed shelter for the Springbrook area residents' use during inclement weather. Included is an off-leash dog area and a bridge, about which Dodsworth said, "I never thought it was going to happen" because of the expense and because the city did not own the property. But a state grant came through to build the bridge that would cross a creek, which is populated by salmon, and connect with 47th St. SW to provide better access to transportation and other services for Springbrook residents.
Springbrook was not the only park being targeted for growth and improvements. The biggest jewel in the park system, Ft. Steilacoom Park, will see major improvements as well. A newly paved trail will be built circumnavigating Waughop Lake. Improvements there include moving the trail a bit farther from the waterfront, allowing an area of natural vegetation between the trail and the water to allow a more relaxing environment for just sitting and enjoying the view. Part of the project to provide a more enjoyable experience will be the removal of large thickets of blackberry bushes and dangerously old trees that currently prevent full and safe use of the waterfront. The current paved trail is in such disrepair that it has created a risk, not only to bikers, walkers and joggers, but makes negotiating the trail especially difficult for elderly and wheelchair park users.
In summary, Lakewood parks stand to see major enhancements and safety improvements by the end of 2016. Dodsworth went on to describe numerous additional maintenance and improvement activities that are scheduled throughout Ft. Steilacoom as well as other city parks. For the members of Lakewood First Lions it will be the realization of a long anticipated project.
The Crab Feed 2016 Saturday, January 30th was the best crab feed yet, based on the constantly packed dance floor and fast moving crab.
The dessert dash proved to be the most fun as representatives from each table had 10 seconds to dash to the dessert bar and make a choice before the next table rep was on the way to try to scoop up the mos t enticing offering. Lakewood resident Jennifer Langer, a physical education teacher at Tyee Park Elementary, was first to get the call and reach the dessert bar, returning to share a huge chocolate cake and bigger smile at her table. But the most satisfied and lucky guest undoubtedly was Diane Blair of Tacoma who walked off with an $800 share of the 50/50 drawing.
When it was over the Lakewood Youth Council members, who worked the entire event scooping up the buckets of discarded crab shells, swooped in to help Lions members with final clean up. A big thanks to them - they were as full of energy and fun at the end as they were at the beginning!
While the numbers are not in yet there are some indictors. The Wall of Wine sold 51 bottles, a better record than last year. Dessert sale really raised the fun quotient and the bar numbers are not yet ready. Attendance was about 250. Some club members will now begin budget work to determine best distribution of funds while others are already looking to 2017. Great job all!
Mike Zaro became the City of Lakewood's third police chiefin October, 2015 on the heels of Bret Farrar and Larry Saunders, both of whom retired. Each of our past chiefs went through trying times and challenges seemingly beyond expectations for such a new city, and for a city of Lakewood's modest size. Launching a new citypolice department, cleaning up the plagues of illegal drugs and prostitution, the deadly ambush of four members of the force and embezzlement of funds raised for the families of those four officers are not elements of a typical officer's day. In fact our new police chief stated as one of his goals to clear the TV-movie-inspired misconception that an officer typically dons his uniform, vest, radio, camera, weapon and the other trappings of his or her daily routine, "punches in in the morning and sets out for a day of "fighting and shooting" before "punching out at night" and heading home for dinner.
Chief Zaro started his life in America's labor pool by becoming intimately familiar with the "business end of a shovel," working a variety of jobs after graduating high school for a "year off." That was not a decision that his dad thought was very promising, telling Mike that folks that normally take that road seldom go back to school for a higher education. Mike saw that prediction as a challenge and, after his year off applied for and was immediately accepted at Washington State University. He tackled double majors of criminal justice and sociology. He later tacked on a masters degree in administrative leadership from Oklahoma.
Hailing from Richland in Eastern Washington Zaro met his love at WSU, a young lady from the Tacoma area. From there he seemed on a fast track towards his current role in our own community. Debi has now been his wife for 20 years.
Arriving in the area he applied for a position with the Pierce County Sheriff's Department and was quickly hired. While with Pierce County He was assigned patrol duties in the Lakewood area. At the time Lakewood was contracting with the county for law enforcement coverage. After two years he was assigned duties in various locations around the county.
Zaro was promoted to detective in 2001 and assigned back to recently incorporated Lakewood. When Lakewood started hiring for its own police department he applied and was hired. But he first wanted assurances that he could continue his work as a detective, work he really loved. The county could not provide such assurances. In an employment interview with Chief Saunders he was given that assurance and he quickly accepted.
Because the Lakewood department was in its building stage each officer had to take on many additional roles and tasks. Zaro recalled those early years with pride and a bit of a grimace. "When you start a department like that you don't have a full complement of people. I got a lot of experience in a broad range of assignments in a short amount of time."
In 2006 Zaro tested for and was promoted to sergeant. As is generally the procedure in many police departments newly promoted sergeants are reassigned patrol duty as supervisors. While he remembers that duty as great work, it was not like the detective work he really loved. It didn't take long - about a year - before Chief Saunders asked him to head up the Office of Professional Standards. That entailed hiring, background investigations, training and internal affairs. The job was not a glamorous movie script generating job. "It's not the sexy part of the job."
Another member of the force, Brett Farrar, was a friend of his. In a conversation one day he said that "if he ever became chief he would like me to be his assistant." "Sure Brett, whatever!" was his casual response, not thinking that opportunity would ever materialize.
But suddenly Larry Saunders announced he would be retiring to return to active duty in Iraq. Now Bret Farrar was in line to become chief much sooner than anyone expected. When he became chief he again asked if Zaro would be his assistant. "Probably because I didn't know any better I agreed and found myself as a 38 year-old assistant chief in one of the biggest departments in the state. There was a very sharp learning curve for me."
About a year into Farrar's tenure four of Lakewood's officers were ambushed while gathering in a coffee shop before reporting for duty that morning. They were tested as chief and assistant chief "...pretty significantly early on." That was followed by the revelation that money had been stolen from the trust that had been set up for the families of the four slain officers. The recession came on and the move to a new police station. All significant and difficult events the average police professional officer has little training and no expectation for and it "really tests you and see what you're made of as an administrator."
When Farrar announced he would be retiring Zaro applied for the job. Because the City also had a new administrator it took some time to process his request and get to the interview. But it all came together for him and, in October 2015, he was sworn in as the chief of the Lakewood Police Department.
His immediate goals are "to communicate the good work our officers do," and to make his office and the department accessible to anybody in Lakewood. I found that it worked. I called the department and was immediately connected to the chief. Of course that will not always be possible, but it's a great start.