Central Manitoulin Lions welcome 14 new members to its pride

Pictured are the newest members of the Central Manitoulin Lions Club along with executive members. The enthusiasm of the inductees bodes well for this particular organization. photo by Betty Bardswich

MINDEMOYA—The Central Manitoulin Lions Club, which started in 1976, held a dinner meeting at the curling club on December 16 to induct 14 new members. Lions were elated to see so many new members, especially many young members, and were profuse in welcoming them to the club. Central Manitoulin Lion President Owen Legge welcomed the newcomers as well as those who already belong to the organization, saying, “It is very thrilling to have this many coming in to the Lions Club. The Lions Club is very beneficial in all communities as all the money raised by the club in every community goes back to that community.” President Legge shared the head table with his wife Shirley, who serves as vice-president, Brian Mitchell, the past president of the Providence Bay/Spring Bay Lions, who now serves as zone chairperson, and Brian Huhtanen, of Sudbury, the District Governor, and his wife.

After a delicious meal, Lion Huhtanen took some time to explain to the new members what the Lions were all about. “There are 10 districts in the province,” he explained. “I visit each club every year. The districts are broken up into zones and regions. Lion Brian looks after visiting clubs and arranging meetings.” Lion Huhtanen then remarked how nice it was to see so many younger people coming in. “Fourteen new members. I am really impressed by that. We are all getting older,” he told the inductees, “but just one word of caution. After you have joined, don’t get disturbed if things don’t fall into place right away. I will set up a meeting, just a two-hour meeting—an orientation to tell you about Lionism and to get some ideas from you.”

When Lion Huhtanen asked for questions, Lion Allan Tustian was curious about what a Lion could do who has a lot of pins. Lion Huhtanen suggested giving some to new members, putting them on the wall as one Lions Club did or perhaps the club could have a banner with all different pins on it.

Central Manitoulin Lion Jeanine Desmaris was happy to welcome the new members. She has been a member for 15 years, first joining in Wawa and the joining the Central Manitoulin club when she moved to the Island. “The Lions seemed to be having a lot of fun with their fish derbies and things like Summerfest,” she said when asked why she joined the organization, “and I was looking for volunteer work, something to do. You get to know so many people. And the Lions do so much. School donations, CNIB Eye Van, CNIB dogs, minor hockey, figure skating, a lot of different events that involve children. This year we had Homecoming Weekend as well as a Hallowe’en dance and next year we will have a Valentine’s dance. After the Homecoming parade, we are planning to have a lot of activities for kids, to fill the void.”

Janice Abbott joined the Lions at this meeting and she had a special story to tell. Lion Abbott grew up in Armstrong, which is about four hours north of Thunder Bay, and special events in the community such as a Christmas celebration and an Ice Sculpture Week came about because of a Lions Club. “When I was young,” Lion Abbott noted, “if people needed help, it was always the Lions who helped. If it wasn’t for them, we didn’t have any festivities.”

Lion Legge pointed out during the induction program that the large turnout to join the club came from Mathew Hallett. “Mathew Hallett said, ‘how do you become a Lion’ and this went from there. Mr. Hallett and his wife Laura are both interested in helping to have more activities for the kids.”

The 14 new members of Central Manitoulin Lions are Janice Abbott, Arlene Finlay, Peter Finlay, Mathew and Laura Hallett, Jeff Horula, Dorothy Mercer, Stuart Yanke, Stacy Chilholm, John Finlay, Linda Hagen, Jason Heins, Andrew McGauley and Samantha Wymans. Marg Jones is the secretary for the club and Bruce Mercer is the treasurer. For more information, or to join the Central Manitoulin Lions Club, call 705-377-4687.

by Betty Bardswich