First African American Northumberland Lion President, Phil Gannous and First woman Northumberland Lion President Sheila Chewing are now both a part of history.

Chartered on April 29. 1953, the Northumberland Lions Club has been in existence for 67 years. During that time, the organization, affiliated with Lions International, has worked hard to help everyone have a better life in Northumberland County. The Lions have provided eyeglasses to thousands of residence and donated millions of dollars’ worth of equipment to local hospitals.   

Three years ago, the Lions Club made history by electing its first African American person as President. This year the organization continued its trailblazing efforts to be all-inclusive and selected Sheila Chewing its first woman. Comprised of individuals from all walks of life whose main desire is to make our community a better place to live, Northumberland Lions provide outstanding services at no cost to the county.

In response to a query regarding his election as first African American Northumberland Lion President, Phil Gannous said, “It is essential to show that all members of the community can and should work together to help those in need and to contribute to improving the community.” 

Gannous cited as his significant accomplishments as enhancing public relations, including more coverage of the Lions in local newspapers. Next, he pointed to the Lions partnering with the Social Services Community as part of the Clubs in its outreach program. He also lauded the Club’s successful work in increasing eye examinations in Northumberland County public schools, and the Lion’s providing low-cost Ophthalmologist’s exams and eyeglasses for students.

Chewning is continuing Gannous’ pioneering work. She has outlined ambitious goals for the club. For example, the Lions are pledging to establish a hearing program for needy county residents. Chewning also is creating a Diabetes Awareness Program. She has vowed to continue and expand our Vision Screening and eye exam and programs in our schools and community. 

Chewning is also focusing on recruiting new members actively. “Many in our county and state are unaware that Lions Club provides Humanitarian Aid to Third World Countries. Lions are fighting hunger at home and abroad,” according to Lion President Sheila.

Longtime past Northumberland Lions President, Dick Saxer stated, “I am extremely proud of the elections of Phil Gannous and Sheila Chewning as our Presidents. Each election has marked an upward milestone for our Club. The first club president of color and the first female club president.  Each has shown outstanding qualities such as leadership and organization.  I know our membership has shown to all the true meaning of inclusiveness.”

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