Storrington Lions Club is celebrating 50 years this June. The group of volunteers in South Frontenac Township have worked hard over the years to make the community closer and stronger, allowing it to persevere and thrive.
“I’m proud of what our club has accomplished,” said Lion Shirley O’Neil, a club member for approximately 25 years. “There’s been a lot of money raised by this club in the past 50 years, and it’s all gone back into the community. When we had a little bit of money, we gave it out.”
According to a release from the Lions Club, the club has helped Battersea, Sunbury and Inverary by supporting people in need. The club may be best known for holding special events, meals, and food bank drives in its community hall.
Among other accomplishments over the past 50 years, the Club has purchased an emergency vehicle for the fire department; donated $10,000 to the race track at Storrington Public School; helped purchase a rescue boat for the Perth Road Fire Department; donated $5,000 to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Kingston General Hospital; purchased Christmas hampers, vision, hearing and medical supplies for residents and groups; placed proper signs at local cemeteries; and held countless fundraisers and events in its hall, including pandemic relief activities, firearms training, blood donor drives, and polling for provincial/federal elections.
The club members are delighted to recognize the 50 year anniversary of this Lions Club. Don McCallum is the only original charter member alive who is still a member of the club, and Jack Babcock has been a member of the club for 47 years.
Babcock spoke with pride about its past accomplishments and sees a future for the organization. “Al Toth put-up the $2 token fee back in 1974/1975 for the Club to buy the Latimer United Church on Holmes Road,” Babcock said. “Eventually, the club saved enough money to buy the Sunbury School in 1980, which had been sitting vacant for a while. We lacked $15,000 of the purchase price and two members loaned the club the money.”
The Club added a community hall to the school in the late 80s and remains at the same location to this day. The community hall is still in operation and hosts everything from weddings to funerals.
Babcock reminisced about the club’s work, which is an integral part of the history of Storrington District and an important contributor to the broader work of Lions International.
“One of the things we did for years was operate and sponsor a three-week swim program at Davidson Beach every summer from about 1972 to 2000,” he said. “It fizzled out after amalgamation, but we were incredibly proud of our work with that program and even donated the aluminum raft to the township with the request that it remain at the beach. It’s still there today.”
The Club has also supported local plowing matches and hosted a series of farmers’ nights that included a meal and guest speaker, which was popular with the agricultural community in South Frontenac Township.
Although membership is less than half today than what it was it its glory days, Babcock sees a role for the Club, which continues to quietly support causes such as the Salvation Army’s Christmas fundraising campaign, local seniors’ homes, and education programs/activities for children and youth.
“The Storrington Lions Club Hall has been a place for people to celebrate and grieve together for five decades,” noted Ron Sleeth, Storrington District Councillor with South Frontenac Township. “The Club has raised a countless amount of money that has been returned to the community to support and help so many people. I salute the past and present members for their tireless work in our community.”
Currently closed because of the pandemic, the Club hopes to resume operations as soon as the COVID-19 global health crisis is over. According to the release, the Club continues to help residents in need by holding food bank drives and donating bingo funds (held in reserve) to groups that are making a social impact. To mitigate the damage of social isolation and boredom caused by the pandemic, the club allowed residents to play pickleball indoors last winter to help keep the community physically active and connected.
Speaking on behalf of the Storrington Lions Club, President D’Arcy Marconi noted, “It is with great pride that I have been asked to represent our Club as president during the year of our 50th anniversary. The support from our great community and the dedication shown by the members and volunteers for the last five decades have been the contributing factors that make ours a great Club to be a member of. Even in trying times, our Club has done whatever it takes to help the community. Here’s hoping for 50 more years to celebrate!”
Storrington Lions Club said it is proud of its past, focused on the present and excited about the future. The club welcomes new members who can reach them at 613-353-6920 or [email protected].