CHESTERVILLE – With their motto being “We Serve”, Lions Clubs can be found in many communities throughout Eastern Ontario and around the world. For over 100 years, Lions Clubs have had a goal to bring hope and health to humanity. The Lions Clubs International Foundation have five global causes around which the organization’s global service is centered, these include vision, diabetes, hunger, childhood cancer and the environment.

Dundas County Lions Clubs are part of District A-4 with five clubs, including Chesterville & District Lions Club (CDLC); Winchester Lions Club (WLC); Mountain Township and District Lions Club (MTDLC); Iroquois-Matilda Lions Club (IMLC) and Morrisburg & District Lions Club (MDLC). Members of these clubs have volunteered their time and energy to hold fundraisers to provide assistance to community organizations, that provide a helping hand to others; or hold events such as Canada Day celebrations and activities for all members of the family. 

Lion Renee Devenny, who is the incoming District A-4 governor, explained that the Clubs support local food banks, residents, and eye clinics, collaborate in community projects such as park development and provide bursaries to students. Where there is a need in a community this service club is ready, willing, and able to lend a helping hand, responding quickly and often behind the scenes.

In 1987, the CDLC was formed with 39 charter members, including Lion John Edgerton. During a telephone interview Edgerton mentioned that the CDLC Lions Den is located in the basement of the Nelson Laprade Centre in the Chesterville Park, with the club having just under twenty members who are very involved in community work. He explained one of the club projects involved assisting a local young person who was badly hurt in an accident and commented that Lions Clubs throughout the area and beyond provided assistance to the family. The CDLC helps organize food hampers, sort gifts and coordinate client pick up times in collaboration with the North Dundas Christmas Fund and support other community organizations holding local events. Edgerton described the strong commitment of the Club in assisting children and adults with vision care. Like many Lions Clubs around the world, the CDLC collects eyeglasses for use in developing countries. Edgerton suggested for those that want to help that they can contact a member of the Chesterville & District Lions Club if they have glasses to donate. He went on to mention that the CDLC in collaboration with the Winchester Lions Club, sponsor a Leo Club for youth. 

The WLC was founded in March of 1968 according to information received from Lion Bob Porteous.  Since that time, the club has contributed significantly to the community it serves in many ways including the building of the Lions Hall for Senior Citizens and the creation of a thrift store in the community.  Porteous explained the LHSC was built after the formation of a “Golden Years Society” in Winchester during the early 1970s with “around 165 people” needing a place to meet in the village. After being approached by village council for assistance, the Lions Club was able to purchase a building from Harold Lannin, receive a Local Improvement Program grant to renovate the building with LHSC which officially opened in 1974. Over the past 47 years it has served the community as a location for meetings, dinners and during the COVID-19 pandemic, has been a COVID-19 Assessment Centre.  

The MTDLC received its charter in 1982 and currently has 29 members. Lion Karin Ceelen, in a recent email to The Chesterville Record, mentioned Club fundraising activities include a successful 50/50 draw held recently, renting out billboard signs and the Club is planning a July 1 take out chicken barbecue dinner with tickets available from club members. Club projects include the revitalization of South Mountain Park with the township of North Dundas, ongoing roadside cleanup and supporting organizations such as Community Food Share and Prostate Cancer Awareness. The Club has assisted with some medical needs for community members including “the cost of a specialized walker”, “vision therapy for a local youth” and has “contributed towards the cost of a wheelchair ramp for a local resident.”

In 1947 the IMLC was founded and 74 years later, it continues to serve the community. Past president Lion Evonne Delegarde explained in an email to The Chesterville Record that the club has held activities such as Clean-Up days, Senior Citizens’ Christmas Party, St. Patty’s parties, Chicken Barbecues and assisting with community events such as the Iroquois Apple Festival. She continued there is currently a challenge by Lions Club International “to hold a hunger-related service project” before June 25, with ILC planning to “hold a Food Bank Drive at our local Iroquois Foodland, with the date still undetermined.  Next year the club is celebrating their 75th Charter Anniversary and hope “to schedule and organize a celebration throughout the year.” 

The MDLC received its charter on Nov. 16, 1949 and has demonstrated its commitment to the community it serves since that time. Lion Linda Robinson noted in a recent email to The Chesterville Record that the club provides “immediate cheques to any fire victims in the area to help them get back on their feet.” The MDLC, in collaboration with the Riverside Recreation Committee (RRC) funded the church mural located at the intersection of Church Road and County Road 2 and in 2020 working with the RRC and the Municipality of South Dundas refurbished this historic mural. The MDLC has sponsored events such as “Darts for Cancer” tournaments, fundraising bonspiels, assisted in food drives run by the Morrisburg & District Leo Club, Canada Day celebrations and have operated for many years The Docksyde at the waterfront in Morrisburg. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic each of the Lions Clubs have had to suspend in-person meetings and most fundraising activities. Information has been shared between club members by Zoom, email or telephone. Despite these obstacles, Clubs have continued to serve their communities by making donations to local organizations such as the Community Food Share and as much as possible helped people navigate this stressful period. 

Lion Evonne Delegarde, IMLC past president of the IMLC and Lion Linda Robinson from the MDLC told The Chesterville Record that volunteers from their respective clubs have delivered groceries and medications to local residents during the pandemic period. Robinson explained the MDLC collaborated with the Riverside Recreation Committee in October 2020, to safely provide Halloween treats to youngsters of all ages. Delegarde mentioned that the IMLC has delivered seasonal treats at Christmas and Valentine’s Day to people. Lion Bob Porteous from the Winchester Lions Club (WLC) noted “We have donated in excess of $8,000 to various community organizations and personal needs since COVID-19 came on the scene in April 2020.”

It is reassuring in these changing times, to know there are community organizations such as Lions Clubs which seek to serve their communities, taking the time to ensure that all have access to the services they need.