AMHERST – Lionism is synonymous with giving in Amherst.
The Amherst Lions Club celebrated 64 years during its annual anniversary dinner, doing something it has done since the first meeting in 1954 – giving money to community groups such as little league, minor soccer, the kidney foundation and the Cumberland Health Care Auxiliary.
It’s something that hasn’t gone unrecognized by the area’s district governor.
“Just pause and think, if you were not here for the past 64 years, who would have done everything you have done for your community. Who would have raised the millions of dollars that you give away without a second thought,” district governor Rhonda Trickett told Lions members and representatives of the groups the club has supported. “Just like our Lions pin, one Lion looking to the past and one to the future. Lions, be proud of not only what you have done in the past, but look forward to the great things that you will do for your community.”
Trickett said the Amherst Lions Club has been a huge supporter of little league baseball, being the only original sponsor from when the league began offering free baseball to children ages five to 12.
It supports little league financially, as well as by volunteering as coaching, scorekeepers, umpires and executive members.
Lions have also been huge supporters of its playground that officially opened in its new home last year on Hickman Street and is in the midst of a five-year development plan that received a $100,000 boost on charter night from the Community Credit Union.
This year, the park will see the construction of a washroom/change room facility.
It has supported minor hockey, soccer, figure skating, basketball, boxing, the Victorian Order of Nurses and much more.
Trickett also congratulated the club for its ongoing commitment to the district and the international Lions Foundation of Canada and its support for guide dogs for the blind and visually impaired.
Club president Steve Butler said it has been another busy year for his group. Along with its charitable work for its traditional partners, he said applauded Phil and Barb Baxter for their work with Christmas for Kids.
“Since we took over that organization a lot of boys and girls in Cumberland County have had a Christmas they wouldn’t otherwise have,” Butler said. “Last year that was 715 children in all of Cumberland County, with the exception of Springhill that is looked after by our friends with the Springhill Lions Club.”
Butler said the club continues to support law enforcement and health agencies through Racing Against Drugs for Grade 5 students. It continues to support the Highland Fling for the Cumberland Health Care Auxiliary and is a big supporter of Police Week.
There are also scholarships at ARHS, eye exams and glasses and scooters and wheelchairs for those in need, breakfasts for community groups and Christmas caroling for seniors at Amherst nursing homes.
Butler also took the time to honour several members of the club with awards.
George Damery was presented the Tail Twister Award while Tim Ripley was recognized for his work as club secretary. Honourary Lion Carol O’Regan was given a president’s appreciation award as was Rita Damery, while Ethan Pettigrew was named rookie of the year.
Barb Baxter was presented with the club’s Distinguished Service Award and Debra Millard was recognized as Lion of the Year.
Longtime Lion Richard Stanley was honoured with the highest honour in Lionism, being presented a Melvin Jones Fellow.