Lions re­group­ing fol­low­ing ‘set­back’

O ld Per­li­can-based ser vice club work­ing hard to re­store trust

The Compass - - PORTHTE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER

A prom­i­nent ser­vice club in Old Per­li­can is at­tempt­ing to re­build trust among its sup­port­ers fol­low­ing al­le­ga­tions that a long­time mem­ber em­bez­zled funds.

An RCMP spokesper­son con­firmed re­cently that an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into al­leged theft of funds from the Bac­calieu Lions Club had been launched, but that no crim­i­nal charges were laid.

A veteran mem­ber of the club ver­i­fied last week the group has en­dured a “set­back” in re­cent months, but em­pha­sized that the club re­mains very vi­able and will con­tinue its ef­forts to sup­port com­mu­ni­ties from Browns­dale to Job’s Cove, and be­yond.

The mem­ber asked not to be named be­cause of the sen­si­tiv­ity of the mat­ter.

“All of the mem­bers have re­ally pulled up their socks,” he said.

Spec­u­la­tion has run ram­pant in re­cent months about fi­nan­cial ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties in the club, with sources con­firm­ing that a long­time mem­ber was re­cently dis­missed.

Mem­bers have been tight-lipped about the sit­u­a­tion, since ef­forts are on­go­ing to re­cover their losses. It’s not clear how much money is miss­ing, or how long the al­leged theft was tak­ing place.

The Old Per­li­can-based club is widely re­garded as one of the strong­est ser­vice clubs in east­ern New­found­land, hav­ing do­nated some $350,000 to char­ity since it was founded 24 year ago.

Though many Lions Clubs are tee­ter­ing on the brink of col­lapse, the Bac­calieu Club boosts 30 ac­tive mem­bers, and sup­ports a wide ar­ray of causes and com­mu­nity events.

The un­named mem­ber said the set­back has sparked a re­newed de­ter­mi­na­tion to re­store faith in the club.

“If you don’t do any­thing, peo­ple will start to lose trust,” he said. “So we haven’t slacked one bit.”

Cur­rently, club mem­bers are busy pre­par­ing to host its an­nual public speak­ing com­pe­ti­tion Feb. 16 at Bac­calieu Col­le­giate in Old Per­li­can.

Prin­ci­pal Roger Gillingham heaped praise on the club, say­ing it has done “great work” in the school, and rou­tinely makes a dif­fer­ence in peo­ple’s lives.

Whether it is gas vouch­ers for peo­ple driv­ing to St. John’s for med­i­cal ap­point­ments, or spon­sor­ing a guide dog for a visu­ally im­paired per­son in Til­ton, the club has a proud rep­u­ta­tion to up­hold, said the mem­ber.

For in­stance, club mem­bers still cut fire­wood for an el­derly woman in Old Per­li­can whose hus­band passed away a cou­ple of years ago. “It is a tire­less ef­fort,” said the mem­ber. Next sum­mer, the Lions Club in Old Per­li­can will cel­e­brate its 25th an­niver­sary, he said, adding that there will bet­ter days ahead for the club.

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