Ser­vice clubs are still big con­trib­u­tors

My dad showed me the good work they can do, and I still see it to­day in Hamilton

The Hamilton Spectator - - COMMENT - DEIRDRE PIKE Deirdre Pike is a free­lance colum­nist for the Hamilton Spec­ta­tor. You can write her at dpikeatthes­ or fol­low her on Twit­ter @deirdrepike.

I have dis­cov­ered stay­ca­tion days, par­tic­u­larly rainy ones, are good days to un­cover boxes of mem­o­ries I moved into this house al­most 11 years ago with­out open­ing and likely hadn’t been touched for a decade be­fore that. I was never much help when it came to pack­ing up and trans­port­ing all my me­men­tos, so with each flip of the lid I am sur­prised by joy.

One box in­cluded a colour­ful ar­ray of pre­vi­ously im­pec­ca­bly ironed rib­bons won at swim­ming com­pe­ti­tions across south­ern On­tario in the early ’70s by yours truly.

Comb­ing through the re­spectable pile of reds and golds down through the blues, greens and whites, I found the names of swim­ming pools long since swum in by me and in some cases by any­one as out­door ce­ment ponds have be­come less favoured over gleam­ing-win­dowed in­door fa­cil­i­ties.

I, be­ing some­what of a queer tra­di­tion­al­ist, pre­fer the out­door kind where, in my mind’s eye, sun­screen was only for the fair kids, not for those of us who turned “brown as a berry” as my mom said, the change rooms smelled of bleach, the pool wa­ter smelled of chlo­rine and the life­guards, some of whom were also my babysit­ters, let me be the fake drown­ing vic­tim in their swim­ming lessons.

Most of the pools I swam in, from Strathroy to Sar­nia and Thames­ford to Till­son­burg, were named af­ter the ser­vice clubs that had orig­i­nally spear­headed the fa­cil­ity. The Kins­men and the Jaycees are iden­ti­fied on a few of the rib­bons but the ma­jor­ity name the Lions Club as the dig­ger of lo­cal swim­ming holes.

My dad was a mem­ber and past-pres­i­dent of the Strathroy Lions Club for many years, and I proudly ac­com­pa­nied him to an­nual fa­ther/daugh­ter din­ners and heard him speak or in­tro­duce oth­ers to do so. He was a funny guy and peo­ple lis­tened to him. They also watched him when he called the num­bers each Tues­day night on the Lions TV Bingo while my mom and I played along, eat­ing our favourite “no-dad” meals which was pretty much any­thing with pasta.

Then the Lions’ Fall Fair would roll around, and there was my dad spin­ning the wheel on the Birth­day Game or flip­ping burg­ers at the bar­be­cue to raise funds for Guide Dogs. I al­ways saw him ac­tive in com­mu­nity ser­vice, and that was years af­ter he’d al­ready been the ex­ec­u­tive vice-pres­i­dent and a sen­a­tor of the Jaycees of Canada.

When I learned Ca­ble 14 had TV Bingo on Tues­day nights, I wanted to join the Ki­wa­nis Club of Hamilton East that runs it. The mem­bers of that club use their funds to meet the needs of thou­sands of vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren in this city, such as the 33,000 stu­dents who eat nu­tri­tious meals each day at school be­cause of Taste­buds, Hamilton’s Stu­dent Nu­tri­tion Col­lab­o­ra­tive.

Then this spring I was in­vited to speak about LGBTQ In­clu­sion at the Ro­tary Club of Hamilton A.M., which meets Wed­nes­day at Wil­liam’s on the wa­ter­front. I was so im­pressed they were open to dis­cussing this topic and, while I pro­vided them im­por­tant in­for­ma­tion about the needs and gaps in ser­vice for LGBTQ peo­ple of all ages and in­ter­sec­tions in our com­mu­nity, I learned some­thing key from them. The Ro­tary club is an in­stru­men­tal part­ner in end­ing po­lio around the world, a dis­ease my dad had as a young boy. That made me want to join them, too!

Ser­vice clubs still con­trib­ute such a tremen­dous amount in our com­mu­ni­ties. Each one has its own vi­sion and val­ues and sup­ports those through var­i­ous means of rais­ing funds and ex­pend­ing them, usu­ally both lo­cally and glob­ally. They are a great ve­hi­cle for do­ing good for oth­ers while help­ing mem­bers ex­pand their com­mu­nity knowl­edge and net­works, and build friend­ships.

While I highly rec­om­mend join­ing ser­vice clubs to peo­ple seek­ing those ob­jec­tives, there isn’t a mem­ber­ship to one in my im­me­di­ate fu­ture. How­ever, as I re­sponded to the Ro­tary club pres­i­dent’s in­vi­ta­tion to con­sider, I will sign on the line with the first ser­vice club in this com­mu­nity that makes the cre­ation of an LGBTQ Com­mu­nity Cen­tre its fo­cus. Since the Ro­tary club seems to have helped end po­lio, maybe the time is right for a change in vi­sion.

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