As of Wednesday, Dec. 17, the Salmon Arm Lions Club ceases to exist.
A lack of interest, says John Lund, who has been club president for 10 years.
“We need a group of people that work together,” he says. “We’ve only got four that get out and work and I am worn out.”
Lund says when he told the members he was resigning, nobody else in the group wanted to step up, so the decision was made to disband.
“We’ve done a lot for a lot of people, so it’s something that’s going to be missed in the community for sure,” says Lund, who has been involved with the Lions since 1977.
“I was a charter member of a Sicamous club that we opened in my restaurant and was in the other Salmon Arm club until it disbanded.
From raising money to make possible one man’s trip to Vancouver to get a new heart, to fixing people up with wheelchairs, insulin pumps, hearing aids and glasses, and sending needy children to camp, the club has given back to the community in a big way.
The Lions held an event in Sorrento that raised $25,000 to help send a young girl for brain surgery.
With plans to close underway, the club began doling out most of its remaining funds.
The Shuswap Hospital Foundation received $20,000 to help pay for the CT scanner upgrade. The B.C. Lions Society was given $80,000 – $25,000 for improvements at Camp Winfield, $25,000 for camperships so handicapped kids can go to camp, and $30,000 to Easter Seal House to refurbish one of the units.
“We have used 325 bed days for people in Salmon Arm in the last year,” says Lund, noting the house provides accommodations at reasonable rates for those who are unable to afford hotels while receiving medical treatment in Vancouver.
Six disabled Salmon Arm kids attended Camp Winfield this summer, at a cost of $2,500 per child.
“We sold a building, we do barbecues at events, we do the demo derby and more,” he says. “What we’ve tried to do is put money back into the community to help people.
Every penny that was raised in Salmon Arm stayed in Salmon Arm, even though clubs are supposed to contribute globally.
“We don’t because we prefer to help local people,” says Lund. “We’re going to look at how we can help one more person with a wheelchair.”
The club has also given their annual $1,000 donation to the Salvation Army for Christmas hampers.
As well, the Lions have donated more than 100 wooden toys for the hampers that they acquired from a Lower Mainland workshop run by the Lions.
“A lot of the stuff we don’t push out in the open and say ‘whoopee ding, we did this.’” Lund says. “We’re out there to help people, not just have our horn blown.”
Of his own commitment to service clubs, Lund says he does it to help.
“No matter how beaten down you are yourself, there’s still people that need more help,” he says. “One thing with our club was we never begged merchants for donations.”
If he could get a good price so the merchant didn’t lose on the deal or if the merchant offered something for free, Lund was happy to take it.
As much as he’s looking forward to some down time, Lund is sorry to see the club close.
“It’s a sad thing, but it comes to the point where you’ve got to slow down.”