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Giving Rye: Meet Rye City Lions Club

(PHOTO: Lions Barbara Brunner and Co-President Ann Higgins ringing the bell in downtown Rye for the Salvation Army.)
(PHOTO: Lions Barbara Brunner and Co-President Ann Higgins ringing the bell in downtown Rye for the Salvation Army.)

Giving Rye is a new occasional feature highlighting non-profits and community groups in and around the City of Rye. Today meet Ann Higgins of Rye City Lions Club.

Your Name: Ann Higgins

Organization: Rye City Lions Club

Your role: Co-President [along with Catherine Parker]

MyRye.com: Tell us your organization’s mission.

Higgins: The mission of the Lions Club is to serve our neighbors in whatever way we can and to encourage service-minded men and women in volunteer efforts that make their community a better place to live and work.

Historically, Lions have focused primarily on providing services for the vision impaired, but we go beyond these efforts to support various community organizations that are providing other needed services to the families of Rye.

How long have you operated in Rye?

Higgins: The Rye City Lions Club is a chapter of Lions Club International and was founded in 1927. We are the oldest active service club in Rye!

International Headquarters is located in Oak Brook, Illinois, and there are over 1,500,000 members in over 43,000 clubs in over 184 nations and geographic areas.

(PHOTO: Lions Club Athlete of the Year Ashley Kessner receives a proclamation from City of Rye Mayor Josh Cohn.)
(PHOTO: The 2023 Lions Club Athlete of the Year Ashley Kessner receives a proclamation from City of Rye Mayor Josh Cohn.)

What programming or work in Rye is the organization best known for? 


  1. Rye Lions Club sponsors the Scholar Athlete of the Month recognition and then honors all the recipients and the Scholar Athlete of the Year (who is chosen by the students at Rye High School) at a luncheon each Spring. It is our privilege to promote athleticism and scholarly excellence with this recognition and award.
  2. We encourage volunteerism in our community by awarding the James A. and Marian M. Shea Community Service Award for Outstanding Volunteerism each year.
  3. The other thing we are probably best known for is our support of the visually impaired. We not only collect used eyeglasses for recycling and distribution, but we also support organizations like Visions of Westchester and Guiding Eyes for the Blind. Here in Rye, we provide funding for large print books and audio books for the Rye Free Reading Room.
(PHOTO: Members of different Lions Clubs along the Sound Shore. Lion Co-President and Westchester County Legislator Catherine Parker is second from the left.)
(PHOTO: Members of different Lions Clubs along the Sound Shore. Lion Co-President and Westchester County Legislator Catherine Parker is second from the left.)

Looking forward to 2024, what will be your top initiatives? 


  1. We plan to continue our long standing traditions of honoring Rye High School Scholar Athletes and recognizing outstanding volunteerism with our Community Service Award next Fall.
  2. We are also excited about the Leo Club at Rye High School which, in its third year, continues to empower young leaders and provide opportunities for them to grow in their commitment to community service. Leo stands for “Leadership, Experience, Opportunity” and we are excited to support and partner with them in their efforts to give back to their community.
  3. We will continue to support local organizations like the Rye YMCA and Rye Recreation and look forward to jumping in where needed to assist other volunteer organizations as we are able.

Tell us about the population you serve and how they can get involved with your programming and services. 

Higgins: We serve the citizens of Rye and the surrounding areas. The only additional thing I would add is that as Lions, we encourage and support volunteerism in all its forms to better the community and broaden opportunities for those in need.

Are you a 501(c)(3) non-profit with tax exempt status? 

Higgins: Yes, we are a non-profit organization, and all our efforts are funded through the tax-deductible donations we receive from the members and the community. We are non-sectarian and non-political. We encourage our members to become interested and involved in community and civic affairs.  

Looking back across 2023, what were your organization’s top achievements?

Higgins: Aside from what was already mentioned above in terms of our ongoing work, in 2023 …

  1. We were delighted to honor the long time volunteer efforts of Nancy Haneman as the recipient of the James A. and Marion M. Shea Community Service Award at a celebration dinner held at Whitby Castle in November.
  2. And in June, we awarded Ashley Kessner the Scholar Athlete of the Year and recognized all the other Athletes of the Month, their coaches, and their parents at a special luncheon held in their honor.
  3. We provided funding for scholarships to send children to Rye Rec’s summer camp program to ensure that all children have an opportunity to experience the fun and friendships of summer camp. We also support Rye YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program to help lower the risk for type-2 diabetes.

How can local residents support your organization?

Higgins: We are happy to welcome new members who live or work in Rye and would like to be a part of what we are doing. Please be our guest at one of our meetings and find out more about who we are (we meet twice a month at Whitby Castle for lunch). We are also grateful for any tax-deductible donations which fully go toward funding our initiatives to serve the community. You may mail a check to the Rye City Lions Club, P.O. Box 354, Rye NY 10580, or VENMO (@RyeCityLions). Any amount is greatly appreciated.  

We would also welcome nominations for the Community Service Award that is presented at a special dinner each fall. The form can be found on our website.

Right now, we are looking forward to “ringing the bell” for the Salvation Army on December 23rd in downtown Rye – look for us and stop by and say “Hi!” (And maybe drop a little something in the kettle?)

What local Rye residents and area businesses have been the longest, steadiest supporters of your organization?

Higgins: We are grateful for everyone in the community who has dropped off eyeglasses, put money in the Salvation Army kettle, or attended any of our functions. We are also grateful to the businesses in Rye (you know who you are) who consistently donate goods and services or who purchase ads in our event programs. Thank YOU!

Tell us about you:

How long have you been in your current role?

Higgins: Catherine and I have been co-President since July 2023, and I (Ann)  have been a member of the Lions Club since 2017. Catherine joined Rye Lions in 2011.

Is the role full time or part time? Paid or volunteer? 

Higgins: We are both unpaid volunteers. Catherine has her hands full as a Westchester County Legislator and I work part-time as the Director of Development for Camp Brookwoods, Deer Run, and Moose River Outpost. (I spend the summer in New Hampshire and work remotely the rest of the year.)

How would your friends and family describe you in one word? 

Higgins: Multi-faceted (I am interested in all kinds of things!)

Pick one:



Select from:

Your Pick:
Coke or Pepsi? Pepsi (But I have a soft spot for Coke, being from Georgia)
Regular or diet? Diet
Action movie or rom com? Depends on my mood
Cook, order in or eat out? I usually cook, but love a break!
Dog, cat or no pet? No pet at the moment
Balsamic vinaigrette or ranch? Balsamic for sure
Ruffles Original, Lay’s Barbeque or Funyuns? Ruffles
Still, sparkling or tap? Tap, but sparkling if I’m feeling fancy


What is the kindest thing someone has ever done for you?

Higgins: My girlfriends surprised me by replacing a sentimental piece of crockery (a cookie jar) after it was irreparably broken.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why, and who would you take with you?

Higgins: I’d take my whole family to Italy and Greece because I’ve always wanted to visit (the food, the history, the beaches!) and they are my favorite people to spend time with.

What is your favorite streaming / TV series? 

Higgins: So hard to answer, but at the moment I’m loving “All Creatures, Great and Small” and “Only Murders in the Building”

What is your favorite movie? 

Higgins: So hard to choose but I’ll say: Princess Bride – it’s just so quotable.

Where do you live in Rye and how many years have you lived in the City? 

Higgins: I have lived in Rye for 29 years. We lived near the Milton Firehouse for 9 years and are now near Playland. I just love being able to walk to the water!

Thanks, Ann!

Organization’s website.

Specific donation link. (n/a You may mail a check to the Rye City Lions Club, P.O. Box 354, Rye NY 10580, or VENMO (@RyeCityLions))


Jay Sears, MyRye.com
Jay Sears, MyRye.comhttps://myrye.com
Jay Sears is the owner and publisher of MyRye.com. He is a 20+ year Rye resident. Contact Jay here: https://myrye.com/tips-letters/


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