It was a full evening for Elk Grove Lions on June 22 as they installed officers for the 2009-10 year, inducted a new member, and handed out numerous awards to about two dozen members, following dinner at Vince’s Ristorante in Elk Grove.

Danny DiBenedetto III is the new president, and one of the youngest to hold the office, according to proud grandfather and former president Dan DiBenedetto. He takes over from 2008-09 president Jim Switzgable.

Member Ellard Whisman received the Melvin Jones award, Lions International top honor.

Lifetime Member award went to Jim Parino and new president DiBenedetto, and Lion of the Year was shared by Bill Heston and Dan Pearson.

A new award, the Paul Betschart Iron Lion was given to longtime member John Zehnder. Betschart, who was a charter member of the club who held a record for perfect attendance, died earlier this year.

Others receiving awards included Warren Weaver, Larry Turbovsky award; Randy Feist and Vern Vincent, Harry J. Aslan and Dwight E. Stanford Fellowships; David Simpson, Richard Merz award; Jerry Salamy and Tom Anderson, Fred O. Sullivan award; Bill Hibbard, Pancho Sanchez and Matthew Switzgable, Gordon Daniels Founders award.

Also Andy Anderson, President’s award; Fred Handley and Bob Brewer, Gordon Daniels Member award; Mel Oneto, Kay K. Fukushima award; David Ogden, Knights of the Blind; Heinz Leonhardt, Kay K. Fukushima Sustaining Member; David King and Rod Dixon, Don Ring award; and Danny DiBenedetto III, Paul Shimada Leadership award.

Don Ring, Past District Governor and member of the Orangevale Lions installed the new officers pointing out that Lions International is the largest service organization in the world.

Serving with DiBenedetto are vice presidents, first, Dave King, second, Rich Schriver and third, Randy Feist; Fred Handley, secretary; Bob Brewer, treasurer; Mel Oneto, membership director; Heinz Leonhardt and Dan Pearson, one-year directors; Vern Vincent and Rigo De La Torre, two-year directors; Bill Heston, Lion Tamer; David Simpson, Bulletin Editor; Jim Switzgable, past president; and Ellard Whisman, Tail Twister.

Ring’s wife, Carol Ring, who is also a Past District Governor and a member of Folsom Lake Lions, inducted new member Howard MacDonald.

The Elk Grove Lions Club is the oldest service organization in Elk Grove, and during the past year provided more than 3,000 hours of service to the Elk Grove community, along with donating more than $150,000 in support of local organizations.

Some of these organizations include the Senior Center of Elk Grove, FFA, Jessie Baker School games, Elk Grove Police and Sacramento County Sheriff’s departments, Toys for Troops, Strauss Festival, American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, CSD’s Camp in the Park and Creek Cleanup, Boy Scouts, and a variety of support for graduating seniors at Elk Grove and Pleasant Grove high schools along with elementary and junior high students.