Middletown, N.J. – The Middletown Lions Club recently inducted a new slate of officers, officially beginning a new ‘Lion’ year of charitable service. The induction ceremony was held at Jacques Exclusive Caterers, Middletown.  Past President and former Lions District 16-B Vice-District Governor Al Siano conducted the installation, which included a solemn and moving candle-lighting ceremony and celebratory dinner. The new officers are Lori Anne Oliwa, president; Larry Caminiti, first vice-president; Tony Hernandez, second vice-president; Beverly Bova Scarano, third vice-president; Jo-Ann Lo Sapio, secretary; and Bernice Lopez, treasurer. Indeed, the installation of Oliwa, Lo Sapio, and Lopez – all women – represents a historic moment. It is the first time in the sixty-five year history of the club that the offices of president, secretary and treasurer are held by women. Oliwa plans to continue the successful fundraising and service initiatives of the club and wants to expand support to include additional charities which provide important services in the community. In addition, she has a goal to grow the membership under the slogans of ‘Invite, Unite and Excite’ and ‘Each One Reach One.’ Oliwa stated, “Leadership is a privilege and a gift. I am honored and humbled that I have been elected to lead one of the strongest clubs in the state and will be serving with individuals who are amongst the finest people I have ever known in my life.”

Photo: A notable and historic moment – For the first time in the 65-year history of the Middletown Lions Club, the offices of president, secretary, and treasurer are all held by women. From left to right are President Lori Anne Oliwa, Secretary Jo-Ann Lo Sapio, and Treasurer Bernice Lopez, who gathered around the club banner to celebrate a new ‘Lion’ year.

During the evening, outgoing Lion President James Guerrieri recognized several individuals for distinguished service during his administration. He noted they were instrumental in service or fundraising initiatives.  Honorees included Lions Tom Guarino, recognized for his chairmanship of the Texas ‘Hold-Em’ Poker Tournaments; Beverly Bova Scarano, recognized for her management of both ‘Lion Tamer Third Thursdays’ at St. Marks Food Pantry and the free hearing aid program; Rich LaBarbera, recognized for his leadership of the ‘Knights of Sight,’ the club’s vision screening team; and Craig Finnegan, recognized for his steadfast support of all club initiatives.  

The Middletown Lions Club, chartered in 1946 under Lions International, is a volunteer service organization which supports charitable and service initiatives and assists individuals in need. Lions International is the largest service organization in the world with over 1.3 million members worldwide in over 200 countries. The club supports programs including sight improvement, prevention of blindness, and health screenings. Members also serve directly by volunteering at St. Marks Food Pantry, Keansburg. The club also underwrites free eye exams and eyeglasses for those who cannot afford them and donates to local charities which advocate for disabled individuals and for families and children with special needs. The Middletown Lions Club is well known for signature events like the ‘Super Bowl Sunday Pancake Breakfast,’ ‘White Cane Day,’ and Texas ‘Hold-Em’ Poker Tournaments which directly fund charitable initiatives and allow the club to offer free vision screenings for children in local school districts. Vision screenings are conducted by ‘The Knights of Sight,’ an all-volunteer group of Lions who travel to schools with specially-designed cameras called Welch-Allyn Suresight Vision Screeners. Membership in the Lions is by invitation. The club meets on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month at Fratelli’s Pizzeria & Restaurant, Union Square Mall, Middletown.  For information, contact Lion President Lori Anne Oliwa at [email protected] or visit the club website,

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Allan Dean

Allan Dean is editor, publisher, and founder of the Atlantic Highlands Herald. Published since 1999 and selected in 2000 by the Borough of Atlantic Highlands as one of their official newspapers, making...