MANITOWANING—Without an influx of new members, the Southeast Manitoulin Lions Club is in peril of cancelling its charter and closing down, ending a storied history of helping the Assiginack community and hosting one of Manitoulin’s most loved events, Summerfest and the annual smash-up derby.
An ad in last week’s Expositor thanked the sponsors of this year’s Summerfest weekend and the visitors who attended and supported the major community event, but at the end of the ad an ominous note read: “We are sending out an urgent request to all interested people to come and join our club. Our membership is too low and without new members we will have to fold up our club after almost 40 years.” The ad ends with Lion Dorothy Chapman’s contact number.
Lion Dorothy is the acting president and has been tasked with helping the club to recruit new members, and quickly.
“We’re needing members, big time,” Lion Dorothy told The Expositor in a Friday interview.
After a quick count of the membership list, she noted that there are 11 Lions, but many of them are aging or in poor health.
Besides Summerfest Weekend in July, the Lions do much in their community, including for those that need it the most. Not a month goes by that the club doesn’t receive a request from someone in the municipality with a request for assistance and whenever they can, they answer that call.
Buying Nevada tickets at the Manitowaning Guardian Pharmacy, A Lions Club fundraiser, means that you are supporting members of the community who utilize Lifelines—a medical alert bracelet. The funds raised through Nevadas goes to help pay for the monthly subscription that literally is a life line for the people it serves. It worries Lion Dorothy greatly that should the club fold this fall, those people will no longer receive this service.
“We also donated to the Anglican and United churches, public and secondary school, the horticultural and agricultural societies and more,” she continued. “A lot of people rely on that money from us.”
This year’s Summerfest was a stretch for the struggling club too. “I don’t know what we would have done without the township,” she said.
At the Club’s last meeting it was decided that if things aren’t turned around by the end of September, they would fold.
Life as a Lion means meeting twice a month (Tuesdays in the Family Health Team basement), good camaraderie and a willingness to help the people of your community, Lion Dorothy said.
The club would like to see more events throughout the year besides Summerfest, but the lack of members makes that impossible right now, she noted.
“Come to meeting and see what it’s like,” Lion Dorothy urged.
“I’d hate like heck to see it fold,” she said, obvious sadness in her voice. If expressions of interest aren’t heard by the end of the month, the club will likely close. “And that would be the end of the smashup derby.”
Contact Lion Dorothy for more information on the Southeast Manitoulin Lions Club by calling 705-859-3503.