Bucking the national trend of declining membership in service organizations, the Saddle River Valley Lions Club continues to attract individuals seeking to improve the quality of life of those in need. Upper Saddle River resident Mark Stephan became the latest example of this trend when he was welcomed into the club as the newest member of the fifty-eight year old organization. Stephan's membership brings the club's roster to forty individuals residing in communities throughout the Saddle River Valley.
Stephan was recently inducted into the club by undergoing the organization's traditional initiation ceremony, on this occasion led by Lions District Governor, John Romano. It began with Stephan's sponsor, Lion Gene Leporiere, placing a blindfold on the candidate for membership and handing him a lighted candle. Romano then explained the significance of this act stating that "in spending a few moments in darkness you are experiencing something the sightless live with every day of their lives."
Romano went on to describe "Lionism as a cooperative effort in which every member shares the load so that the burden of the less fortunate will not be so heavy." After hearing the District Governor describe something of the Club's history, Stephan then recited his membership oath. Afterwards the newest Lion responded to a warm welcome of applause by thanking the "Saddle River Valley Lions Club for accepting me. I'm truly looking forward to working with my new friends to help those in need."
Professionally, Stephan has spent the past thirty years of his career in the fields of banking, public accounting, and healthcare. Currently the senior vice president and chief internal auditor at Columbia Bank, Stephan's previous positions include serving as the chief financial officer for Community Bank, as a mortgage company controller, a regional auditor for a large healthcare organization, and as a senior manager for a well known consulting firm.
A graduate of Clemson University with a Bachelor of Science in Financial Management, Stephan also holds a Master of Business Administration in Accounting from Fairleigh Dickinson University along with numerous other professional certifications. He and his wife, Victoria, have four children who attend local schools.
Lions Clubs International is the world's largest service club organization with more than 1.4 million members in approximately 46,000 clubs across more than 210 countries and geographical areas around the world. Founded in 1917, the organization is best known for fighting blindness, the Club also performs volunteer work for many different kinds of community projects – including caring for the environment, feeding the hungry, and aiding seniors and the disabled.
Locally, the Saddle River Valley Lions Club was chartered in 1958. For 58 years the club has been an integral part of the communities from which its members are drawn: Allendale, Mahwah, Ramsey, Saddle River, and Upper Saddle River. Membership is by invitation and is open to men and women of legal majority and good reputation within the community.
Classified as a 501C(3) non-profit entity, the Saddle River Valley Lions Club has raised and distributed more than $2,260,000 since its inception. 100% of its net proceeds go directly to the charities that the Club supports with none of the funds raised being used to meet administrative expenses, a cost borne by the Lions themselves.
For more information about the Saddle River Valley Lions Club, membership opportunities, and its many worthwhile programs and activities, check out the club's Facebook page and visit their website at www.SRVLions.org.