Little Current Lions celebrate 75 years

LITTLE CURRENT—Members of the Little Current Lions Club were joined by their colleagues from other clubs, former Lions, Zone officials and the district governor of Lions International along with friends, local politicians and family members in an evening of celebration of the 75th anniversary of the club’s charter held at the Little Current Curling Club this past Saturday, November 30.

Sitting at the head table were Wendy Gauthier, President Steve Nunn, Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing MP Carol Hughes, Ann Closs and Lions International District A5 governor Brian Closs.

Following some spirited conversation and reminiscences over cocktails, the Lions were called to order by master of ceremonies Lion Marcel Gauthier. Ms. Gauthier led the gathering in the singing of O’ Canada after which Lion (and past president) Bruce Burnett delivered the toast to the Queen and Lion Ruth Ann Bastert delivered the toast to the guests.

Past Lion Don Cooper delivered the invocation before the assembly rose to a roast beef and chicken buffet dinner catered by Little Current’s Don Cook.

Guest speaker for the evening was Governor Closs, who brought greetings from the district and from Lion International president Barry Palmer.

Governor Closs reminded the assembly that the theme for 2023-2014 is ‘Follow Your Dream.’ “Nearly every great accomplishment began as a wildly ambitious dream, whether it was landing a man on the moon, running a four-minute mile or webbing together an entire world through computers,” he said. “Everyone should have a dream, a vision, a goal—something as unique to each of us as our very DNA. The challenge is two-fold, first to identify your dream and then to work to achieve your dream.”

“This year,” he said, “Lions are challenged to follow their dream to reach new heights.”

The governor pointed out that the Lions’ overall dream as an organization is to serve those in need in every community in the world. “To achieve this dream, we must expand our reach by strengthening existing clubs, adding new clubs and recruiting new members,” said Governor Closs. “We have to remember that service is more than a dream, it’s our identity.”

Governor Closs went on to describe a number of the organization’s good works, including the Lions Reading Action Program and his own Governor’s Project, the CNIB Eye Van. “What a great project for the Lions,” he said, “as we are known as the Knights of the Blind.”

Governor Closs also brought a sombre note, pointing out that Lionism has been in decline in District A5 over the past 10 years, dropping from 73 clubs and 1,689 members a decade ago to today’s 54 clubs and 1,253.

“That, Lions, is a decrease of 19 clubs and a loss of almost 440 members,” he said. “At 1,250 members, we lose our status as a district.”

That revelation brought longtime Lion stalwart Doug Tracy to declare his intention to join the Little Current Lions Club in order to do his small part to bring the numbers back up.

The governor noted that a major challenge set by President Palmer to the Lions is to bring the number of women Lions up from its current 24.5 percent to 30 percent by June of 2014. In this it was noted the Little Current Lions are well ahead of the curve, currently boasting that 55 percent of its membership are now women. The club has added seven new members in the past year.

The governor noted that next year Toronto will be hosting the International Lions Convention, this past year’s convention having been hosted by Hamburg, Germany.

Northeast Town Mayor Al MacNevin addressed the assembly by pointing out the important role the organization has played in the community since its inception in 1938. “We would be hard pressed to provide many of the services available in our community without the Lions,” he said, describing them as “my community, my family and my friends. We are very fortunate that they are here and I hope they are here for another 75 years.”

Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing MP Carol Hughes brought greetings from her provincial counterpart Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Mike Mantha, who was covering for her at the Espanola Santa Claus Parade.

“It is wonderful to be able to have the opportunity to be with you and to be able to get to know you,” she said. “We try to get to as many events as we can.”

“Lions Clubs are one of the organizations that are not just involved,” she said, “you are so involved in so many ways. I tip my hat to you.”

Ms. Hughes delivered congratulatory certificates to the club, from both herself and Mr. Mantha, recognizing the Club’s 75th Charter Night.

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Greetings were extended by the Sudbury Lions Club president Steve Brazeau (the original sponsors of the Little Current Club) and the Espanola Lions Club president Art Dubreuil.

Little Current Lions Club President Steve Nunn delivered the closing remarks for the evening, thanking his fellow members of the Charter Night committee Lions Bruce Burnett, Marcel Gauthier, Barb Eadie, Alicia McCutcheon, Lisa Moore, Ruth Ann Bastert and Lori Draper.

“Thank you to the Lions Club for making me feel welcome in a small town,” said Lion Nunn, as he extolled the camaraderie and sense of inclusion that has enriched his own 20 years as a member.

See complete coverage of the Little Current Lions Club 75th Charter Night in a supplement in next week’s edition of The Expositor.

Michael Erskine