Lions roar on
The Prince Albert Lions Club celebrates 70 years of service
“It gives you great satisfaction, helping out somebody” -- Garry Beaudry
Garry Beaudry’s memories of the Prince Albert Lions Club begin long before he officially joined them.
The biggest that stand out were the peanut sales and snake dances the club conducted while he was in high school. His father was also a Lion, prior to moving away from Prince Albert.
On the day the club celebrated its 70th anniversary, it was those memories that came flooding back.
“That was a lot of fun, as a high school student,” chuckled Beaudry, who currently serves as the club’s president. “Remembering back, I think the Lions themselves used to have just as much fun with it.”
Times have changed since Beaudry first joined the Lions, but the club’s mission hasn’t.
Originally chartered in September 1947 at the Prince Albert Municipal Airport’s Airliner Club, the Lion’s first goal was to support the blind and visually impaired. Dr. D. V. Chipperfield was named the club’s first president, overseeing a body of 39 charter members.
The club still supports that cause today through the used eye glasses collection drive and the Lions Eye Bank, but they’ve also expanded their service to include the sponsorship of high school scholarships, and the operation of Operation Red Nose, among others.
For 70 years, providing service has been the goal, and Beaudry said he’s proud of the organization’s past efforts.
“It gives you great satisfaction, helping out somebody,” he said. “Some of our projects, you feel really good when you’ve completed them.”
On Saturday, the remaining club members and a few special guests gathered at the Prince Albert Travelodge to celebrate those years of service. Lions Club district governor Dan Babyak and past international director Marvin Chambers were both in attendance, and to celebrate the occasion, the club made a series of donations, including $1,000 to the STARS air ambulance service. At its peak, the club boasted more than 100 members, but these days it’s down to 33.
Regardless, long time members like Jim Wilm, who joined in 1970, say the passion for service is still there, as is the need in the community.
“It’s really important, I think, to the community that you have groups that they can turn to (and) say, ‘we need some help,” he explained. “Because we’re in the business of serving the community … we’re always getting those requests.”
Wilm has put a lot of hours into the club, serving in just about every role imaginable. Currently he’s the club’s secretary, but he also served a stint as the district governor, where he represented the region at international conventions in San Francisco and Taiwan.
He’s hopeful that new Lion’s will rise up and carry on the club’s work in the future, but finding new members is getting difficult.
“It’s getting harder and harder to make those commitments to their community,” Wilm said. “Organizations like ours are no different than anybody else’s. Membership is a big thing.”
The decline in club members is something Beaudry has noticed too. He says lifestyles have changed, making people busier than ever. There’s no guarantee Lion’s Club members will gather for another celebration in 70 years, but he still remains hopeful.
“It would be nice,” Beaudry said. “You put your heart and soul into something, so yes, I hope they’re still around.”
Long-time Prince Albert Lions Club member Bill Skomorowski (seated) receives a special commendation from past international director Mervin Chambers (standing) for 66 years of service.