Mount Forest Lions Club celebrating 85 years of ‘Lionism’

MOUNT FOREST – The Mount Forest Lions Club is one of many in a global network of 47,000 clubs with more than 1.4 million volunteers supporting global and local causes.

The club’s motto – “we serve” – is emblematic of the type of people who volunteer with the Mount Forest Lions Club, which celebrates its 85th anniversary this month.

“Lions are a proud but humble group of residents,” says longtime local member Vern Job.

“We are doing our part to make Mount Forest a better place to live.”

The Mount Forest Lions Club began in 1938 with 15 original “charter” members. It has since expanded to around 62 people, both men and women, who form a cross-section of the community.

Of that membership, at least 25 have received the Melvin Jones Fellowship Award – the highest a club can bestow on a member – in recognition of their dedicated community service.

“We’re always looking for new members,” Job says, adding those who are “community-bound” and want to contribute “new ideas” are wanted.

“New people coming in have new ideas, and they see the community though a different set of eyes than us who have been here for a lot of years.”

In addition to supporting global causes related to childhood cancer, diabetes, vision, hunger and the environment, the local club organizes events, such as barbecue dinners and “road tolls” throughout the year to fundraise for local community groups, organizations and individuals.

According to Job, in recent years, the club has managed to donate at least $100,000 annually to local causes and initiatives, including the community food pantry and the Children’s Foundation of Guelph Wellington – to name a couple.

The club is also responsible for bringing Santa Claus to Mount Forest each year during the parade, and members can be seen regularly volunteering at community events and performing road and park cleanups through the year.

“We can see the fact that if it weren’t for Lions or service clubs in general, these things wouldn’t happen,” Job says, adding the community steps up to “support us and make donations so we can do these things.”

cleaning crew – Lions Club volunteers at a past spring road clean-up. Submitted photo

Although Job says “many volunteer organizations have suffered severely,” the Mount Forest Lions Club has been “blessed” with good leadership and an open-minded membership that’s receptive to new members and trying new things — even if they’ve been unsuccessful before.

“You have to be open to allowing people to express their beliefs, to give them an opportunity to follow through with ideas and thoughts,” Job says.

Each year the club recruits new members “who have a genuine interest in the overall community,” Job says.

Members are able to commit as much time as they have available and can express interest in joining at any of the club’s fundraising or service events. 

The Lions also hold a “fall blitz” event, inviting people to come out and discover what “Lionism” is all about.

Job believes the organization will rise to meet a growing community and its needs.

“There will always be community-minded people that want to fulfil those needs, and the Lions would be an excellent way of doing that,” he said.