For nine decades the Cranbury Lions Club has been dedicated to serving the Cranbury community and that service continues today.
To celebrate the organization’s 90th anniversary year, an evening event was organized that sold out tables and seats inside the Cranbury Inn’s Banquet Hall on Sept. 24 in Cranbury.
“It is so inspiring to see the love of the Cranbury community that all of these people have and that those same values still exist now. You see in the Lions the willingness to volunteer their time and give back to the town,” said Louise Campi, president of the Cranbury Lions Club.
Those in attendance celebrated not only the organization’s 90th anniversary year, but the organization’s service projects – the annual duck race at Cranbury Day and the pancake breakfast – partnerships within the community, honoring of veterans, as well as scholarships the organization provides for young students.
“If we are going to survive as a community, we have to work together. That means volunteering our free time,” Campi said. “That is why we are looking for more Lions and looking for more people who want to volunteer for other volunteer efforts in town. The turnout tonight really showed the strong impact of the Lions on the community.”
Cranbury’s local historian Audrey Smith and Cranbury School kindergarten teacher Barbara Adams were also recognized for their service that evening. Smith received the Cranbury Lions Community Service Award and Adams was awarded the organization’s Excellence in Education Award.
New Jersey State Sen. Linda Greenstein (D-14) attended the anniversary event and presented the Cranbury Lions Club with a legislative resolution on behalf of herself and Assemblyman Dan Benson (D-14) recognizing their 90th anniversary. Mayor Barbara Rogers, Committeewoman Evelyn Spann, and Committeewoman Eman El-Badawi from the Township Committee were also in attendance.
“One of the constants in the whole time I have been representing Cranbury has been the Cranbury Lions Club. It is hard to believe you have been around for such a long time,” Greenstein said. “I know that all of you that are members are proud to be members. We are all so proud of the Lions Club as a neighboring institution here in Cranbury.”
Rogers announced that she had written a proclamation honoring the Lions Club, which will be official at the Township Committee’s next meeting in October.
The proclamation highlights the various projects completed in town through the organization’s history.
The projects and community efforts include the donation of two-acres of land along Brainerd Lake that became Village Park and the Todd Beamer Memorial in Heritage Park, which is in honor of Todd Beamer one of the passengers who helped lead the effort to retake United Airlines Flight 93 during the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
“The Cranbury Lions Club has contributed to projects and charitable causes including providing eyeglasses and food for people in need, and more,” Rogers said. “The Cranbury Lions Club hosts the annual Memorial Day Parade and pancake breakfast, which have become traditional events residents of Cranbury enjoy every year.”
The Club also has donated money to families in need after tragic events such as fires and storms.
Members of the school board and administration, heads of local organizations and businesses and residents in town were also part of the crowd that gathered inside of the Cranbury Inn.
“Over the years, the Lions have helped Cranbury grow into a town that thrives into giving back to the community and service to others. The Scouts and the Lions work together at the annual Lions pancake breakfast, Memorial Day Parade, and previously the Halloween Costume party held at the school,” said Tim Brennan, scoutmaster of Cranbury Boy Scout Troop 52.
“The Lions and Scouts have gone hand and hand together for almost 90 years. We look forward to continuing our work with the Lions.”
New Cranbury Lion
With the 2022-23 school year underway, Dr. Jennifer Diszler is leading the Cranbury School in her first year as chief school administrator.
Following the Lions Club anniversary event, Diszler’s connection with the Cranbury community has grown as she became the newest Cranbury Lions Club member after her induction into the organization.
“I’m honored to become a part of this service organization. I’m very excited knowing all of the collaborations and contributions that the Lions do with the Cranbury School,” she said.
Community Service Award
Longtime resident and local historian Audrey Smith has helped residents and visitors over the years learn more about history of Cranbury, which celebrates its 325th anniversary in 2022.
The Cranbury Lions honored Smith and her contributions with selecting her as the organization’s 2022 Community Service Award winner.
“This award means so much, because I love all the service work I have done through the years. I think it is important and want to encourage other people to do the same thing,” Smith said.
“Whether you are young or old, you can do something. I appreciate the recognition and was very surprised when I heard I would be receiving this award, because there are so many other deserving people out there.”
The service award, which was presented to Smith by Committeewoman Spann, recognizes people who have made a significant contribution to the welfare of the community.
“I have tried to vary my service with the Woman’s Club of Cranbury and Historical Society,” Smith said. “There is always something you can do, and you get to meet a lot of people and I think that is important.”
Excellence in Education Award
Each year, the Lions Club recognizes a Cranbury educator that has made a significant difference in the community through the Club’s Excellence in Education Award.
This year’s recipient is Barbara Adams, a Cranbury School kindergarten teacher, who has been teaching at the Cranbury School for 25 years.
“This award means so much to me, but I do it for the kids. The kids keep me going every day and I have so much fun. I am a big kid at heart,” Adams said, adding she feeds off the energy from the kids.
Former Cranbury School Chief Administrator Dr. Susan Genco and Jon Goldstein presented Adams with her Excellence in Education Award during the anniversary event.
Adams spent one year as a teacher’s assistant and the following 24 years as a kindergarten teacher at the school, Genco said.
Adams said she always knew since the third grade she would be a kindergarten teacher.
“I hope students take away from me that learning can be fun and that it should not be boring. Also, do what you love,” she said.