Two members of the Signal Mountain Lions Club have been selected for top honors in Lions Club District 12-O, which covers the eastern area of the state. Chris Cole has been named Lion of the Decade for the District and George Davenport has been named Lion of the Year for 2013 in the District. Both are active members of Signal Mountain Lions Club. It is unusual, according to John Moon, president of the club, for both awards to be awarded to members of the same club.
Chris Cole "has been a dedicated Lion who has gone above and beyond all expectations in serving the club, district and community, and has previously been honored with both the Melvin Jones and Progressive Melvin Jones awards," according to Jerry Pala, chairman of the Signal Mountain Lions awards committee, in making the nomination.
Of George Davenport, Mr. Pala said, "he has been a model Lion and highly respected for his enthusiasm and passion for work" with the club since he became a Lion in 2009.
Mr. Cole has been a member of the club since 1995 and has served on almost every committee with the club. He served as club treasurer for the past 10 years when no one else wanted toe job. This is substantial work because of the club's numerous fundraising projects. In this position he keeps the accounts of the club's administration account and the club's charity account. He files all the necessary reports with the IRS and the state of Tennessee.
Mr. Cole is active on the club scholarship committee since it was formed and keeps all records of scholarships awarded and payments made to the schools on behalf of the scholarship recipients. Since its beginning the club has given 232 scholarships to needy students in the community worth over $45,000.
He has also served as the secretary of the Hamilton County Sight Service Association. He has been active on the committee, collecting glasses, packing them for shipment and taking applications. When one would volunteer for the position of secretary, Mr. Cole stepped up and has done this job for the past 10 years. He attends every meeting of the committee and all application sessions when the committee takes applications from the public once a month at Erlanger Hospital.
He has also served the community with equal dedication and passion. He is retired from the U.S. Army, where he was a helicopter pilot, serving in combat in Vietnam, where his helicopter was shot down and he was severely wounded. He received the Purple Heart and Air Medal for his courageous actions. Now retired from the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, he managed the Office of Veteran Employment in Chattanooga, helping many veterans find work when they returned form serving our country.
He has served as commander of the Chattanooga Military Order of the Purple Heart, Ernie Pyle Chapter 1945, and represents the association at all veteran ceremonies in town. He is also active with the Junior ROTC program at local area high schools.
Mr. Davenport since joining the club has been very active in club and district activities, Mr. Pala said in nominating him as Lion of the Year. "In working with club committees, he saw a need in the community for service to senior citizens. He proposed a plan to the club's board of directors to form a Senior Service Committee. He became the chairman of the committee and recruited other members to also serve. The first project was to start a weekly Senior Lunch and Bingo event. He is the chief cook and Lions serve a simple lunch of soup and bread to seniors and then lead the group in an afternoon of bingo. This has become a big hit in the community and has expanded the club's service profile."
Mr. Davenport is also organizing a Lions visitation group to visit shut-in Lions and others in the community who need a little attention and good will. The group gathered to do Christmas Caroling at the homes of members who cannot get out to the Christmas Party, widows of past members and anyone in the community who needed some holiday cheer. "This was a big hit in the community and will continue in the future," Mr. Pala said.
The Senior Service Committee with Mr. Davenport in charge has reached out to work with the Bachman Community Center to serve a monthly Saturday morning breakfast to the public. This will be a fundraiser for the community center and be an opportunity for the public to gather. It has again broadened the Lions' service in the community. The first breakfast was held in November and will continue in 2014.
On the district level, he served as district 12-O Cabinet Treasurer and was a valuable help to the District Governor and cabinet. He served as a facilitator for the Club Excellence Process at the South Pittsburg and Cleveland clubs.
Mr. Davenport is a key member of the Lions Military History Group, open to the public which meets once a month to discuss topics of interest. He is one of the frequent presenters to the group. He has also made military history presentations at other Lions Clubs to share this idea as a way to attract the community and attract new members
He has also found time to serve in the community. He is a certified tax preparer and volunteers at the community center every week to help seniors and needy people complete their annual tax returns. He is active at the National Medal of Honor Museum as a volunteer, board member and presenter. He regularly makes presentations to various community groups to inform them of the Museum activities and to raise funds. He works in a program to make presentations to school children to teach them about the value of service to the country and about Medal of Honor recipients.
A retired engineer, he has made presentations on leadership and project management to the Association of Professional Engjneers. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and served in the Army, including a tour in Vietnam. He and his wife are active members of Signal Mountain Presbyterian Church.
"This year Lion George has set a new standard for all Lions to aspire and has expanded his involvement in service activities in the District level and in the community," Mr. Pala said in making the nomination. "We know of no one more deserving of the title Lion of the Year for 2013."