LEADING LIONS - Those representing the Benton Lion's Club in accepting the Rend Lake College Foundation Major Gift Award from Foundation CEO Pat Kern (LEFT) are, FROM LEFT, President Joe Kaak and members Dr. John Metzger, retired RLC President Mark S. Kern, Larry Miller and Dave Severin. CLICK HERE for a larger image.
MT. VERNON, Ill. - The Benton Lion’s Club has been a supporter of Rend Lake College students for 17 years and to the tune of more than $40,000 in scholarships. For its unwavering support, the Club was given the RLC Foundation Bronze Major Gift Award at the RLCF’s annual dinner meeting, Dec. 3, at the Mt. Vernon Holiday Inn.
As a proponent of education, the Benton Lion’s Club began providing support to RLC in 1993 with donations designated toward the College for Kids program. In 2000, The Benton Lion’s Club began a scholarship endowment fund with a goal of $10,000 for Benton High School graduates attending Rend Lake College and in 2001 the first Benton Lion’s Club scholarship was awarded to Sara Blythe.
To date, 10 BCHS students have benefitted from the Benton Lion’s Club direct monetary support. In 2006, a Challenge Grant matching program was established which matches each scholarship 1-1. In response, the Club established a second goal to fund the matching endowment of $10,000, which now totals $20,000 with the match. In 2009, they met both goals reaching $30,000 for scholarship endowments.
“We do it for the betterment of the students of Benton High School,” said the Club’s president, Joe Kaak. “Our students are the future of our community. Education is important. That’s why we recognize, not only athletics, but the fine arts and the top students in each class, as well. We feel that our students are viable people. We need them and we want them to know that we are there to help them in any way we can.”
In order to fund these scholarships, the Benton Lion’s Club is very active in fundraising. The club hosts the annual All-Star Basketball Classic, where the top high school men’s and women’s basketball players from the area play at the Rend Lake College Gym. This event brings the elite local basketball players together to have a play-off. The entire club is active with sales and working at the All-Star Basketball Classic – an event that provides recognition to Rend Lake College as being the host, at the same time showcasing local high school basketball for college recruiters.
The Lion’s Club is nationally known for their assistance in providing eye glasses and hearing aids to community members who cannot afford them. The Benton Lion’s Club is active in giving this assistance and acquiring old glasses to be refurbished for others to use. Through candy sales, dues and other fundraisers, they succeed to benefit the community in many ways, including Rend Lake College students.
The Club and college have a long-standing relationship that grows stronger each year.
“It’s the only community college in our district,” Kaak said. “We feel that Rend Lake College is a viable option for our students. For those who can’t afford to go to a major college, Rend Lake is the best option. It is an excellent school with a good academic and athletic background, and an all-around excellent place for our students to go.”