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Cotati Heart & Soul - Deborah Taylor-French - August 2016


Cotati Heart & Soul - August 2016

by Deborah Taylor-French

In 1925, Helen Keller challenged the Lions Club to be her “knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness.” She said, “The opportunity…I bring you is to foster and sponsor the work of the American Foundation for the Blind. Will you not help me hasten the day when there shall be no preventable blindness; no little deaf, blind child untaught; no blind man or woman unaided?” The Lions Club is unique in that Lions can help families with urgent medical expenses, like eyeglasses.

Cotati Lions Club: a family of “Lions”  

I wish everyone in town could meet Mike O’ Neill. A leader of Cotati Lions Club for ten years, Mike served as club president from 2011 to 2014. Mike has accepted a Regional position, as Chair for Lions District Zone 2 (from Marin to the Oregon boarder). Proudly, he told me his wife, Marjean O’ Neill, serves as Chief Chef of CLC meals. Annual community meals include Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day Breakfast, Christmas Day, with 1,500 meals prepared in Cotati Veterans Hall, and fundraising dinners for local families with urgent medical challenges. Last month, I mentioned I met Mike O’ Neill and his dog, Molly, at the Cotati Lions Clubhouse, who has become an unofficial, clubhouse mascot. Molly has a loving, calm demeanor that Boy Scouts in Troop Four Pack Four enjoy. Mike, a former corrections officer, said that he learned many inmates could not see well enough to read a menu. So he now looks at community with a long-term view “of keeping kids learning and succeeding, especially at reading.” He added, “Our Lions Club motto is ‘we serve.’” This club is all heart in the way they serve Cotati’s youth and families. Note: Arthur Zimmer is serving as CLC President for 2016-2017.

Support the Cotati Accordion Festival, a fundraiser for our youth  

Six stages and 35 accordion acts get people singing, tapping toes or dancing. Enjoy rotating acts with musical styles range from traditional Tex-Mex to whacky rock-pop-San Francisco-mischief music. Both days: 9:30 am to 8:00 pm. Prices $17 = 1 day or $27 = 2 days, 15 & under free with paying adult. Cotati Accordion Festival pulls in international talent, offers musical fun, polka dancing, craft fair, food and drinks. Held under the oak trees of the central Cotati plaza. Bring a folding lawn chair or blanket. No outside food or drinks allowed.

A clubhouse in need of repairs  

Rocky Burks, a new Cotati Lion, said, “Because their mission is to serve community Cotati Lions hadn’t raised funds for major repairs. At 65 years the clubhouse’s forty-year roof must be re-roofed.” Burks, Disabilities Access Consultant, has a passion for Cotati Lions and their aging clubhouse. As a man of vision and enthusiasm, Burks is reaching out to community business owners and individuals to help achieve code safe upgrades to accommodate the growing club. Reach Rocky A. Burks at or call 530-521-2947.

Get connected. Get active. Make friends.
Serve with Cotati Lions Club. 

Club members perform FREE eye scan exams. For three years, Cotati Lions have used an eyesight camera/computer to identify sight problems and eye health issues. When they find a medical problem they refer to a doctor. If someone needs glasses or medical attention, but cannot afford it, the Lions help raise money. Cotati Lions’ spaghetti dinners overflow the clubhouse sixty-five seats then next-door Adobe firefighters help out. They open their fire bay for additional seating at Lions’ fundraisers. Also the Lions club members reach out to local restaurants and markets. They receive generous food donations so the sale of spaghetti dinners goes to the local family. When you see the Lions Club dinner announcement, plan to attend this big-hearted Cotati Lions fundraiser.

Men, women and families can join the historic Cotati Lions. Join as a family or as an individual. For those who can’t get to meetings in person, a new type of Internet club membership offers a tangible way to help CLC online. Look for the Lions Club’s sight testing tent at Cotati community gatherings and festivals. They continue to answer the challenge Helen Keller gave them a hundred and one years ago.