Lion Red Emond was the guest speaker at the Cloyne and District Historical Society Annual General Meeting on June 20th, 2022. He is accompanied by Lion Doug Galt and other Lions members as they share the history of Lions Club Internation and the local Lions Club of Land O’ Lakes Inc. The following is transcribed from Red’s and Doug’s audio recorded speeches.
The Lions history started in 1917
Our history started in 1917 with a businessman named Melvin Jones who resided in Chicago. He was a military captain in the US Army. He recognized a social problem after WWI and with other businessmen in the US formed a club called The Lions. The Lions stand for Liberty, Intelligence, Our Nation’s Security. It’s not often you hear us repeat this, but you will hear us repeat ‘We Serve‘ in many capacities. We are here to serve communities. I believe we have been doing some here but we would like to do more and in the future, as we do more we will have more service in the community.
In 1920 the Lions became international. This is when the Lions Club in Windsor joined the clubs across the river in Detroit. At that time, there were Lions clubs in 23 of the US states with 6,400 members. Today we have 1.4 million members. It is the largest organization in the world. We are not a charitable organization. That’s why a lot of people wish to give us money but we cannot issue a tax receipt. Today, there are 46,000 Lions clubs worldwide in over 200 countries.
Helen Keller challenges the Lions
In 1925 a schoolteacher, Helen Keller, addressed the Lions at a convention in Cedar Point, Ohio. Helen challenged the Lions to become ‘Life of the Blind’ in a crusade against darkness. Helen became blind when she was 19 months old from scarlet fever, they believe. She was also deaf and almost mute after. The Lions started to collect glasses and have continued to collect glasses for quite a while. I was at a Lions convention in Cobourg a few months ago and I had never seen so many pairs of glasses! The glasses are recycled and shipped to countries that need them.
In 1945, the Lions and representatives from 46 nations established an NGO (non-governmental agency) a section of the United Nations, to underscore our commitment to certain and lasting peace for the world.
Leos were formed for personal development
In 1957 the Leos were formed to provide youths the opportunity for personal development through volunteering. Leos are kids aged 8-16 years. We can see the kids developing into very good citizens. My grandson just finished, he is going to turn 19 and he just finished seven years with the Lions (Leos). He will be going to Queen’s University this summer. I left for the Air Force when I was aged 17 and you can imagine it was difficult for me to go. I served 31.5 years with the Air Force. The Leos now have 175,000 youths.
Today there are 7000 clubs in 140 countries. In our District, our Zone 11-west we have 8 clubs.
The Lions Club International Foundation
In 1968, we established a foundation called Lions Club International Foundation (LCIF). The foundation can receive cheques from donors and issue tax receipts. This fund gives grants to Lions clubs and their partners and it will also send money to areas in distress. Like, Fort MacMurray received a lot of money from the Lions but the more recent and current situation is the war in Ukraine which I hope will not last years but it doesn’t look very good. They have received 1,282,00 US$ and that’s a lot of money and is an ongoing thing. The money is primarily used for sick people and moving people, that is food and giving them clothing and so on.
Women join the Lions
In 1989, the Lions admitted women into the Lions, and I’ll tell you we have had some very, very good women in our organization. They are much more organized than I am! The international convention will take place in Montreal on the June 25th this year. I cannot attend this year, but the owners of Myers Cave Lodge will be attending. They have been Lions in Lebanon and Dubai and will be going to the convention. I attended the parade at the convention in Calgary and it was over 4 hours – it was huge and everyone had a different costume. China had two groups with 2,500 people walking and another group of about 1,000, and Japan and so on. You can imagine how good that is for the economy.
Since 1990 when the Lions took on ‘First Sight’ they have impacted the lives of 490 million people. We were testing kids at the school (NAEC) for some time but that has stopped due to the direction of the school board. We did find some kids that were having difficulty with their vision. We had a lady stop at our toll road and donated $20 which is now the normal donation. She said that her daughter now has glasses but if she hadn’t been tested by the Lions no one would have known she had a problem with her vision.
In 2017, we turned 100 years old. We celebrated at the hall in Northbrook and we had 15 past presidents there, nine District Governors, the Reeve, the Mayor, MPP Darryl Kramp, and Dr. Doug Galt who was also an MPP in attendance. Lion Doug is a good Lion. You may see him at the 506 dump picking up bottles for the Lions and taking them to our shed in Northbrook and sorting them. Thank you Doug.
Bottle collection is a major fundraiser
Kindness matters and we hear that a lot. And we take this seriously. We support five causes: Vision, Hunger, Diabetes, Childhood Cancer, and the Environment. For us, the environment is picking up bottles from the dumps. You would be very surprised how many we pick up. To give you an example, when I started picking up bottles for the Lions 10 years ago we were making $2,200/year by selling the bottles back to the Beer Store. As a monopoly, the Beer Store has to take back any bottles from the LCBO or the Beer Store. Last year we had over $27,000 worth of bottles we took out of the dump. The economy is bad north of #7, but keep on drinking folks!
We were getting to the point we could not put more bottles in the shed because it was too full. So, we applied for a grant because, during the pandemic, the Beer Store would only take 2 cases of beer bottles at the time. People with returns were told to take them to the Lions and that’s what they did and good for us. We used to drive all the bottles from Northbrook to Beaver Lake, truck and trailer, and sell them there, every week, two trucks and trailers at a time. Now we have a truck that comes almost every week in the summer. We got a $69,000 grant from the Foundation for a new insulated shed with a concrete floor, water, and power (for bottle storage). A truck comes in with an electric forklift to pick up all the bins and leaves. Last Tuesday we made $1400 in one load, that’s pretty good.
Land O’ Lakes Lions celebrate 50 years
At our 50th Anniversary, we had three Charter Members attend: Harold O’Brien, Terry Holtzauer, and Don Wannamaker. The last two passed away this year. Our first President was Weldon Bahm. Our current President is Pam Lemke and she will be replaced after one year by Nawar Hage, the co-owner of Myers Cave Lodge. Our District Governor is Mark Kelso. The skatepark at the Lions Hall (a Township project on Lions Club property) was given up because of liability and is now under the ownership of the Township of Addington Highlands. That is one of the biggest challenges we have, liability.
You probably noticed we had a very good Farmer’s Market last year and we would love to have it again this year. We have very good insurance for our Lions but as soon as someone comes in to sell stuff you have to have your own insurance. That can be costly. You can call your insurance company and ask for insurance for particular days and you are covered. Some of the vendors do not want to pay for insurance and we don’t blame them since they don’t make much money, but we have to do something because the Farmer’s Market was very positive. It helped bring people into the community and it helped us a lot by selling coffee, and muffins, just a little bit but that little bit helped.
We have two things we have to abide by as Lions. Funding that comes from the public must be returned to the public. Funding that we raise on our own such as the bottles, rent for the hall (we are now renting to the Alzheimer’s society) and our rent is cheap, and also to Dr. Mitch Broser (Chiropractor). So that helps maintain the hall. Maintaining the hall as you all know cost a lot of money. In the past, it’s been $42,000/year. The hall is used Mondays for cards, Euchre is Tuesday nights (as many as 40 people attend), Wednesday is LARC (Lennox & Addington Resources for Children), and exercise classes. Thursday is BINGO. There is no smoking anymore with 30-45 people attending BINGO. We can charge a bit to OLG (Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp.) for rent.
Our Zone 11-West includes Denbigh, Tamworth, Verona, Odessa, two clubs in Napanee, and Sharbot Lake – a total of eight clubs.
As far as projects we pledged the Pine Meadow Nursing Home and we have given over $140,000 to Pine Meadow and some members guaranteed funding for a certain amount of money if Pine Meadow failed and once the debt had been paid off enough the guarantees were gone (input from Shirley Sedore). We are still giving to Pine Meadow. We gave away the last two years $27,000 to the community and two organizations: Diabetes and the Lions Foundation. The Trenton hospital got a grant from them for roughly $300,000 so Canada has done well.
We gave $4000 to the Fire Department for tracks on a utility vehicle. We give bursaries to the school each year ($1500). We gave $2000 for the Ottawa tornado damage. We have a budget each year and we stick pretty close to it and we have a very good Treasurer (Gary Shortt).
We helped in the community a while back by raking leaves for people. Doug and Cathy (Galt) were raking for someone much younger than them as a matter of fact. We did quite a few yards and some people would give us money and we never said no.
You probably noticed our fence at the hall – it’s become quite a thing. I’m not on Facebook but it’s become popular, and we change it with the season. Santa will be at the hall again this Christmas, and I know him personally! This year he will have real reindeer, so you don’t want to miss it. This year we will be a bit earlier, maybe the 29th of November and we will have a marching band again.
We have two Lions that help with the Food Bank, I mentioned Hunger was one of the five…We go to Gleaners who provide food to the different banks. My truck was full of food. I had to break the boxes to spread the food around in my truck. It’s a big job. People get three food boxes once a month and we do many other things. Many hands make light work.
Red leaves the microphone and Doug Galt addresses the attendees.
Doug Galt adds, “In my opinion, (Red) is the man the club should be named after. If he hadn’t stepped forward I don’t think we would be here today discussing the Lions Club of Land O’ Lakes. He stepped in and joined, brought it up from the ashes and we now have the second top numbers in the club in the District and I give him full credit for bringing us forward and making the Lions club what it is today.”
A round of applause was given.