Sheridan Smith Awarded with Lions Club Melvin Jones Award

Lion Sheridan Smith is the fifth member of the Calais Lions Club to receive the nationwide Melvin Jones Fellowship Award. Membership Chair John Mitchell presented the award. (Photo by John Jackson)

By Lura Jackson


Since its founding in 1940, the Calais Lions Club has presented only four of its members with the highest recognition possible: the distinguished, nation-wide Melvin Jones Fellowship award. Named for the founder of the Lions Club, the award recognizes individuals that have served their community and their club with an uncommon dedication. On Wednesday, June 13th, the Calais Lions Club named their fifth recipient of the esteemed award: Sheridan Smith.

“Sheridan has been a dedicated and tireless member of the Calais Lions since the mid-90s when he joined,” said John Mitchell, Membership Chair of the Calais club. “He has attended all meetings and assisted in all functions since then.”

As a member of the Calais Lions Club, Smith has served in all officer positions within the club, including King Lion. He now serves as the permanent treasurer, a position he has held for the past ten years. He is also the permanent chairman of the annual Lions Club auction held during the International Homecoming Festival’s street fair, and he assists with the Lions Weenie Wagon whenever it is running. “He has always volunteered to attend zone and district meetings and conventions over the years, and has the unequivocal respect of the entire club,” Mitchell said.

During the formal ceremony, which was held in the Nino’s dining area of the Calais Motor Inn, Mitchell praised Smith and those in attendance for their efforts to build a better community locally and abroad. “Volunteerism is not something that’s happening in every community,” Mitchell said. The evening also saw the induction of a new member, Matt Gagner, who joined his Lion brother, Mike, and the 32 other members of the club.

The Calais Lions Club meet on a regular basis to affirm their social solidarity as upstanding community members to humanity at large as well as to plan the details of their local efforts. The Calais Lions Club is the driving sponsor of the Santa’s Helper program and its members regularly volunteer to support the needy and food insecure in the area.

As an organization, the Lions Club is particularly committed to assisting those who are afflicted with blindness or sight-related disorders. This legacy stems in part from a speech delivered to the organization by Helen Keller, who urged them to become “knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness.” The Lions Club is now a partner with the American Foundation for the Blind and its accumulated dues and donations are regularly committed to the cause. Locally, the Lions collect used eyeglasses in drop boxes, which are then distributed to those in need.

For one of its members to be considered for the Melvin James Fellowship award, the Calais Lions Club made a donation of $1,000 to the organization. All of the funds will be used for Lions Club programs, with that donation paying for as many as 167 individuals to regain their sight or 67 at-risk youths being able to attend Lions Quest, an anti-drug advocacy program. As the recipient of the award, Smith’s name will be permanently recorded in the International Headquarters of the Lions Club in Illinois.


Prior to Smith, the Lions that received the award were Leonard Scott, Bill Gordon, Bill McVicar, Sr. and John Mitchell.