The Kemptville Lions Club are marking sixty years of service to the people of their community in 2018, and three of those first members who met back in 1958 are still around to help celebrate.
Ralph Raina, Sam Gaw and Jack Higgins were among the 38 men who elected Don Armstrong as the first President, with Ted Root as Secretary and Ralph himself as the first Treasurer at the very first Kemptville Lions meeting on March 24, 1958. The Merrickville Lions Club acted as sponsor for the new Kemptville group, which has proved itself a vital and valued part of our area ever since. For many years, meetings were held in the old Kemptville Hotel and St. John’s United Church, before settling into a regular venue at the old Bright Spot Restaurant. And from those meetings have come a host of projects to benefit the community, the province and even other countries.
It was the Lions who supplied house numbers for very home in Kemptville when the Town Council first assigned street addresses to the homes in the town. The Lions provided $2,000 a year to pay for the community’s swimming pool in Riverside Park, beginning in 1966 and continuing until the pool was fully paid for.
Over the years, the Lions have supplied baseball diamonds in Riverside Park, as well as installing a lighting system to allow for evening and night-time games there. They have sponsored a community room at the North Grenville Municipal Centre, provided BBQ’s for Canada Day, and an annual BBQ in aid of Kemptville & District Home Support’s seniors, as well as numerous other charitable events.
Their support of North Grenville Accessible Transportation, the Kemptville District Hospital, the Community Service Council and so many other great causes cannot be overestimated: they have simply been indispensable in the life of North Grenville over sixty years. Volunteers are vital: the Kemptville Lions Club have taken volunteerism to new heights on our behalf.
But it is on an international stage that the Kemptville Lions played an almost unique role. Back in 1961, Lion Ralph Raina proposed that the Club “undertake sight conservation and work for the blind as our major project”. That resolution was carried and it began a project that continues to this day. Used eye glasses are collected and cleaned, and recycled through the Lions Recycle for Sight program. Every two weeks, Lions meet at the Christian Reformed Church in Kemptville, which supplies them with a room for storage and cleaning of donated glasses.
Charter members, March 24, 1958
These are the names of the men who attended the charter meeting of the Kemptville Lions Club 60 years ago. Many of the names are still represented in our community today. Others represent families who played an important part in the story of North Grenville over many years.
Claire (Sam) Gaw
Stan Van Allen