If your child is looking for a way to be an active participant in the community and do good for others, then look no further than the New Fairfield Leos Club.
So, what exactly is the Leos Club? The Leos Club is an international organization that works in conjunction with the Lions Club. There are 7,000 Leos Clubs worldwide in over 145 countries and territories, and there are an astounding 175,000 Leos members globally. As for New Fairfield, the Leos Club has been in existence for over two decades now, since 1998. It was chartered by the New Fairfield Lions Club. The Leos work on a variety of projects in the community and assist the New Fairfield Lions Club with their own events. In addition to participating in several Habitat for Humanity projects, they’ve also done yard work and cleanup and assisted the school’s PTO. As if that weren’t enough, the Leos help at the Carnival that the Lions Club holds every year as well as the annual July 4th Parade.
“Our goal was to reopen our club in the middle school and strengthen our numbers with high school students,” says Patty Neal-Petrillo, a member of the New Fairfield Leos Club. Together with Kim Holczinger and Jay Greenberg, a teacher at New Fairfield High School, each one of them has their own roles in the success of the Leos Club. Neal-Petrillo oversees the student meetings, communicates with and organizes the students with activities/events. Greenberg is the go-to guy in the school for all the club members, and Holczinger is the behind-the-scenes person who takes care of all the official documents for the club with the Leos International Organization as well as attends club events.
The Leos Club is getting ready for another great year. Initially, the group started small, but as of this year, it has more than tripled in size. “We just had our first meeting of 20 kids from the high school and the middle school combined,” says Neal. The high school students who are part of the Leos Club meet once a month as well as the middle schoolers, and then they all meet once a month together to work on activities. “What’s wonderful is that the high school students can mentor the middle school students,” says Neal-Petrillo. “Every time we have a meeting, we have a new student there.”
In addition to helping in the community, the New Fairfield Leos Club works together with the New Fairfield Lions to have a common goal. This year’s goal: childhood cancer. To that end, the Leos have teamed up with the Lions to work at Relay For Life of New Fairfield next June 6th. They will assist the Lions as they grill food at the event, and together they will have a relay team that will be known as the #GoldTogether Team. All the money raised by the team will go directly to childhood cancer research through the American Cancer Society. “It’s really kids helping kids,” says the students.
Recently, the Lions Club had its 27th Annual Vintage Car Show, and the Leos were actively involved. There were over 200 classic cars at the event. “It was a beautiful day at Squantz Pond, and the Leos helped by running the raffle table,” says Neal-Petrillo. Doug Dorsey, the event organizer, put some of the Leos to work as runners, assisting the Judges by delivering the ballots to be tallied for each class category.
But the Leos are cooking up something even sweeter in a few weeks. On November 17th, the New Fairfield Leos Club and the Friends of the Senior Center are hosting their 1st Annual Cupcake Bakeoff. Amateur and professional bakers alike can enter their tasty treats, and the community will sample — and vote — for which cupcake deserves the crown. The winner gets a trophy, a cash prize — and best of all, bragging rights.
As for this school year, the Leos Club has hit the ground running. Members sold bracelets as part of a community fundraising effort. “Rachel Harvey, President of the Leos, has been amazing,” says Neal-Petrillo. “She put together the Puravida bracelet sale organized by the students and has been a wealth of information.” This past Sunday, Harvey rallied the Leos to help the Lions with the collection of donated food items at the Hunger Drive. An event organized by Lion Lori Benison to replenish the New Fairfield Food Pantry, nonperishable goods (as well as over 100 cans of food), were collected. A total of 21- $25 gift cards was purchased with the money donated, all of which benefitted the community. And when the holidays roll around, the Leos will be there once again to help at the Breakfast with Santa on Dec. 7th. “
The Leos Clubs is always looking for a way to give back to the community. “One of our core beliefs is that whenever there’s a need, there’s a Leo,” says Neal-Petrillo. “We think that the more helping hands there are, the more fun and laughter there is.”
The Leo’s Cupcake Bake off will take place on November 17, 1pm-4pm at the NF Senior Center. For more info on the New Fairfield Leos Club or to sign up, please visit NFLeos on Instagram and Facebook or email NFLeos@gmail.com.
Story by Jennifer Parris