The Kemptville Lions Club are marking sixty years of service to the people of their community on April 28. A very special Charter Meeting will be held at the North Grenville Municipal Centre that evening, and there will be three very special guests among the many coming from all over the region to be part of the event. Three men who were there on March 24, 1958 will be on hand to witness the Diamond Jubilee of the Club: Ralph Raina, Sam Gaw and Jack Higgins were among the 38 men who elected Don Armstrong as the first President, with Ted Root as Secretary and Ralph himself as the first Treasurer.
The Club had its origins in a meeting held the previous January 22, when representatives of the Lions International. The Merrickville Lions Club acted as sponsor for the new Kemptville grup, which has proved itself a vital and valued part of our area ever since. For many years, meetings were held in the old Kemptville Hotel and St. John’s United Church, before settling into a regular venue at the old Bright Spot Restaurant. And from those meetings have come a host of projects to benefit the community, the province and even other countries.
Over the coming year, we hope to feature some of those projects in the Times, to acknowledge the role the Kemptville Lions Club has played over the past sixty years. Everyone living in North Grenville today has been touched by the Kemptville Lions, whether they know it or not. It was the Lions who supplied house numbers for very home in Kemptville when the Town Council first assigned street addresses to the homes in the town. The Lions provided $2,000 a year to pay for the community’s swimming pool in Riverside Park, beginning in 1966 and continuing until the pool was fully paid for.
Over the years, the Lions have supplied baseball diamonds in Riverside Park, as well as installing a lighting system to allow for evening and night-time games there. They have sponsored a community room at the North Grenville Municipal Centre, provided BBQ’s for Canada Day, and an annual BBQ in aid of Kemptville & District Home Support’s seniors, as well as numerous other charitable events.
Their support of North Grenville Accessible Transportation, the Kemptville District Hospital, the Community Service Council and so many other great causes cannot be overestimated: they have simply been indispensable in the life of North Grenville over sixty years. Volunteers are vital: the Kemptville Lions Club have taken volunteerism to new heights on our behalf.
But it is on an international stage that the Kemptville Lions played an almost unique role. Back in 1961, Lion Ralph Raina proposed that the Club “undertake sight conservation and work for the blind as our major project”. That resolution was carried and it began a project that continues to this day. Used eye glasses are collected and cleaned, and recycled through the Lions Recycle for Sight program. Every two weeks, Lions meet at the Christian Reformed Church in Kemptville, which supplies them with a room for storage and cleaning of donated glasses. The details of this project deserve an article of its own, and you can read all about it in an upcoming issue of the Times.
In the meantime, the Kemptville Lions Club will celebrate 60 years of uninterrupted service to the people of North Grenville, the Province and the world on April 28. It should be and deserves to be, quite a celebration. Congratulations to each and every Lion.