By Susana Carey Wey
Carl Sandburg wrote a poem about the fog in the Windy City, saying that it “sits on little cat feet.” In another piece, he compared the wind in Chicago to the roar of a lion.
But if Sandburg lived in the Placerville region in these times, he might say that lions accomplish amazing feats.
That’s because lions and lionesses abound in El Dorado County, doing as much as humanly possible to better society.
Although membership in the Mother Lode Lions Club pride is limited to the two-legged species, “Lions,” both male and female, tread gently, but make a huge impact in the community and the world.
It could be said that individual lions’ cuddly little kitten paws become as gigantic and powerful as lions’ feet when they work together.
But sometimes Lion people stand out amid the roar. They are nominated to be “Lion of the Year.”
Mark Schmidt, 57, of Placerville was elected the 2010-11 “Lion of the Year” in the ferocious (in terms of accomplishments) Mother Lode Lions Club.
A big man with a grand heart and very capable hands, Schmidt takes no credit. He extolls the work of all the other Lions, and remains very humble, much like his brothers and sisters in the pride … er, the club.
Schmidt just sharpens his claws (metaphorically) and pitches in. He says he just does what needs to be done.
“There’s not a lion who isn’t wonderful. We’re all so different. You see, on some teams, like football, you need to conform and be alike. But the Lions let people be who they are,” Schmidt said. “I learned that in the first three years as a Lion. We all respect and love each other, no matter how our own philosophies, income, political party or religious beliefs differ. That’s why I like the Mother Lode Lions Club so much.”
Mother lion, shining star
Schmidt ascribes his own shining lionhood to the late Clara Scheiber’s example. Without Scheiber’s dedication and hard work, the Mother Lode Lions Club wouldn’t be so luminous today. Scheiber inspired everyone, and gave the club the history, impetus and popularity it needed to be a force in the community, according to Schmidt.
All the other Mother Lode Lions, Schmidt proclaims, do extraordinary work, like Mitzi Stockel and Bob Billingsley just to name a couple. Schmidt was president of the Mother Lode Lions Club in 2007-08, but he insists he couldn’t have done it without his dear wife, Annie Schmidt. Without Annie, and her inspiration and emotional support, Mark said, he wouldn’t be the proud, energetic Lion that he is.
Annie became president of the Mother Lode Lions in 2009, and each credits the other for their Lion successes.
“I couldn’t have been president without Mark,” Annie, 56, protested. “Since I was working full-time, Mark did the lion’s share of the work, all the phone calls and follow up … I wouldn’t want to be president again before I retire … but Mark made it possible for me to undertake the job. I loved it, but it’s a big responsibility; I just couldn’t have done it without Mark.”
Mark is a painting contractor and home refurbisher, whose business is called “Mark Schmidt Painting.” His talent and attention to detail have made him a sought-after contractor. But his schedule tended to be more flexible than Annie’s, who is with the in the Human Resources Department at Marshall Hospital, where she was nominated to be a “Hero in Health Care” in 2006.
Not only was Mark named Mother Lode Lion of the Year this year, in 2008 he was voted District Lion of the Year. The Mother Lode Lions Club is part of District 4C5 with over 60 clubs in the Northern California region.
Mark, who has a very sweet and kind presence, is still abashed by the honor. Glancing at the nomination form as Annie produced it for the reporter, he practically blushed beneath his tan.
Signed by Stockel who was 2008 1st vice pPresident , and by Natasha Liu, secretary, the report reveals a man who gave his all to the club during his five years of membership.
The nomination form lists a multitude of activities and scores participation accordingly. With some 1,105 points and an extensive list of over 35 accomplishments and over 15 other Mother Lode Lions Club activities, district officials were impressed with Mark’s resume.
Pages denote Mark’s dedication, including but not limited to 100 percent attendance, and his amazing work with White Cane/Vision (his pet project, among many) progam. Mark’s formulation of the “Business of the Month” and “Lion of the Month” as well as myriad other involvements on both the local and district levels, made him a prime candidate for the honor.
Lionism proud and true
The Mother Lode Lions Club (via Stockel and Liu) recommendation for the honor had glowing words about the young Lion:
“The Mother Lode Lions Club would like to nominate Mark Schmidt as District Lion of the Year,” they wrote. “During his five years as a Mother Lode Lion, he has continuously gone above and beyond in his work for the club, zone, district and the community.”
The accolades didn’t stop there. “When a project needs to be done, Mark Schmidt steps up to organize it and get it finished in a timely manner … Mark has brought energy to this club that wasn’t here before … his favorite is when he can help the kids, so when he was able to put eyeglasses on 50-plus children, he was ecstatic,” the report states, concluding with more:
“Mark has a huge heart and his efforts come from all the right reasons … he does it for what the Lions stand for, not thinking about recognition … He will continue to be a great asset to the Lions and should be recognized for his loyalty and dedication to the true meaning of Lionism … his motto as president is ‘Service with Honor,’ and he is a man who continuously serves Lionism with spirit and honor.”