Today’s news:

New Lions Club branch opens in Bayside area

The Bayside-Whitestone Lions Club held its first official meeting last week, bringing the world’s largest service organization to the heart of northeast Queens.

The new division is one of the newest of more than 45,000 local posts in 206 countries dedicated to bettering their communities.

The 1.35 million-member club brings business owners, community leaders and residents together in the spirit of service, creating a network of like-minded individuals with similar values and commitment to others.

Paul Vallone, former City Council candidate and president of the Clinton Democratic Club, is the president of the club, which he hosted at his law office at 25-59 Francis Lewis Blvd.

“What drew me in was the passion of being part of the largest service organization in the country, having the strength of the Lions behind us,” Vallone said in introducing the local Lions organization before its founding members the night of May 4. “This is what we’re going to do here at Bayside-Whitestone Lions. When we find out about the different wonderful things going on in the community, we want to be a part of that.”

Even before its first meeting, the new group had already begun to make good on that pledge, collecting three donations of more than $1,000 each from community members to jump-start a scholarship fund for local students who participate in service initiatives.

Adam Lombardi, a board member of the new group, said the Lions will have a positive impact on the northeast Queens community he calls home.

“It’s just so nice to see a non-political organization form here in the community,” he said.

Though the group is starting small, its early days will be guided by experienced Lions, including members of the Corona post, which has more than 100 members and occupies a pre-eminent role in that community.

“Lionism is nonpolitical, nonreligious. We are here to serve the community in whatever venture it may be,” former local district governor Ozzie Torres of the Corona Lions said in a pep talk he gave to the fledgling Bayside-Whitestone outfit. “When you walk into a business, if that business owner sees your Lion pin, they’ll immediately take you in and talk to you and that’s fantastic. They know you’re interested in the same things they are. You’re both Lions.”

The club’s charter meeting will take place at 7 p.m. June 7 at Bourbon Street Cafe at 40-12 Bell Blvd. in Bayside.

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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