Tina Piette, who took over as president of the East Hampton Lions Club in September, has been settling in nicely.The East Hampton Lions Club has served the community for 67 years, but Ms. Piette, 53, is its first female president.
An attorney based in Amagansett who has been involved with the East Hampton community for many years, including as a Lions Club member for the past seven years, Ms. Piette said that in her new position as president she will continue to listen to and address the needs of the community.
“Hearing directly from someone at Project MOST and East End Hospice is great, to really have a chance to talk to these people one on one and tell the rest of the community they need help,” she said. “I like the idea of representing these groups that are coming to speak for the community.”
Before becoming an attorney and after graduating in 1985 from the University of Connecticut, Ms. Piette spent summers working as a waitress and then a bartender at Wings Point, now East Hampton Point, in East Hampton. She continued saving money and traveled, spending time in such places as St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands and Maui, Hawaii.
She moved back to East Hampton full-time around 1990 and had a number of odd jobs before deciding to go to law school in 1992. Ms. Piette earned her Doctor of Law degree from Hofstra Law School in 1995 and was sworn in to work as “assistant corporation counsel” for the New York City Law Department by then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani in the fall of that year.
She started her own practice in Amagansett in March 2000, and has been practicing law in the East Hampton community for the last 16 years.
“It’s odd to put that in writing,” she said in an email. “I feel too young to have been an attorney for 20 years already!”
Ms. Piette’s path to the Lions Club started when she was invited, as an East Hampton Rotary Club member, to a Lions Club meeting by Joe McBride, a member of the latter club. She continued to attend Lions Club meetings in 2006 and 2007, and one meeting in particular stands out in her memory: “[Mr. McBride] invited me once to a very memorable joint meeting at Gurney’s with around 45 members from Sag Harbor, Montauk, East Hampton and Bridgehampton,” she said. “I remember, the district governor spoke and, amazingly, I was the only woman there.”
Today, she noted, “we have 37 active members in our club. Ten are women. My goal is to continue the good work of those who have been leaders of the club before me, and to let the community know what we do and ask them to be a part of it if they’d like to be.”
Ms. Piette said she hopes to bring in new services to the community as well as new members to the club. She added that she hopes the Lions will help provide free eye screenings to children for early detection of childhood diseases and to have high school students become more involved with the club’s work.
“When young leaders get involved in volunteer efforts on a specific project and see it to fruition, and they see their efforts really make a difference in the community, it may inspire them to continue to be a part of an organized service club like the Lions. That’s the best we can hope for,” she said.
As far as the impact of the Lions Club in general, Ms. Piette can see the worth of the club from a basic statistic.
“The Lions Club International Foundation magazine says that one Lion affects 70 people per year on average in some way,” she said. “I hope to increase membership by making people aware of what we do and what we participate in. We’re the eyes and ears of community, so the more in the club the more we can do it.”
Ms. Piette and the Lions Club have raised money and volunteered for services and organizations like Phoenix House, Fighting Chance, East End Hospice, the Eleanor Whitmore Early Childhood Center, and The Retreat. The club’s involvement stretches from promoting the Long Island Blood Bank’s East Hampton Blood Drive at the American Legion to cooking and serving food at the Polar Bear Plunge. The Lions have donated funds for Southampton Hospital’s new maternity wing and to Guild Hall for electronic devices for the hearing-impaired.
“Fundraising is our focal point,” Ms. Piette said of her work with Lions. “Without it, we’re not able to support individuals and organizations. When you live in a community you love, I think it’s a natural tendency to want to help those who need it by volunteering your time.”