Since its founding in Chicago more than a century ago, the Lions Club has expanded globally to encompass some 1.4 million members, including longstanding chapters in Woolwich and Wellesley townships. Among the newest clubs, the Ariss and Maryhill Lions recently marked their 10th anniversary.
Members held a digital ceremony April 13 to mark the occasion and reflect on the accomplishments of the club in its brief but eventful history.
“We’ve been a busy club, and certainly dedicated – I’m honored to work and serve with such a dedicated, fun group of Lions,” said club president Larry Wainwright.
In the decade since its formation, the Ariss-Maryhill Lions’ list of accomplishments includes one that pre-dates its formal charter (prior to that it was the Ariss and District Lions Club): a 10-year commitment from seven members in 2009 to provide $15,000 to go towards a scoreboard for the Royal Distributing Athletic Performance Centre in Marden. The goal was met on time in 2019.
The list also includes purchasing a custom-designed three-wheel tricycle for a family of an autistic child, a roll-out awning for the Heritage Park Community Centre in Maryhill where the club meets, a Jaws of Life device to the Maryhill fire station and a lift-assist device to Sick Children’s hospital as a memorial donation in the name of a deceased member. The group has also sponsored three youth for the Monkton Lions camp and donated 6 Christmas hampers to families in the area over the past five years.
Back in 2014, the club promised to donate $50,000 to the Lions Foundation of Dog Guides program, sponsoring a dog in each program: Ariss, a hearing-ear dog; Gore, a canine vision dog; Nick, a diabetes alert dog; Kurtz, a service dog that will graduate this year, and funds for Davis, a seizure-response dog.
Club secretary Pat Kurtz notes all of the dogs were named after people involved with the club’s former presidents.
As with many service clubs, the Ariss-Maryhill group has seen its membership fluctuate, part of a general decline in participation – membership now stands at 11, down from 26 when the charter was issued. The pandemic has not been helpful in that regard, nor in allowing the Lions to provide the kind of service they’d like to.
“Until COVID hit, we had a couple months when we [met] in my garage. And since we can’t meet in person any more, we’ve been doing them (the meetings) virtually every month. It’s really hard because a couple of our members are older members, and they don’t have internet. And they really don’t feel comfortable sitting on the phone for an hour or whatever. So, it’s very difficult because sometimes we feel like we’re excluding some of our members,” said Kurtz.
“I try to keep them up to date on what’s going on after the meeting and that kind of stuff, but my concern is we might lose some.”
Plans for this year that have had to be postponed included a special night honouring community members that was first slated for March 19, as well as planting 30 trees at the Maryhill community centre last year that was pushed back until September.