When it comes to community service, Lions Club members are global leaders. Their motto is, 'We serve.' The local chapter in Bradford lives out that motto and its members are very active in the community.
In fact, the club has supported various community causes and initiatives for several decades.
The Bradford Lions Club was the main funder of the original Community Centre Arena through the now famous Cadillac car draw in 1954.
The Lions also built the original Lions pool (now gone), Lion’s Park, the tennis courts at Lions Park, contributed to Bob Fallis Arena and Joe Magani Park, the pump house at Henderson Park, and purchased the naming rights of the Aquatic Centre at the new Bradford Leisure Centre.
So much of what Bradford residents often take for granted was provided through the efforts of this community service organization and its hard-working volunteers, said Bradford Lions Club President, Jim Slykhuis.
“We started 86 years ago," said Slykhuis. "Originally it was an all men’s club, now it includes men and women. About 50 per cent of our club is women and if it weren’t for them we wouldn’t exist.”
The Bradford Lions have an ongoing fundraiser, Catch the Ace, a progressive lottery. The money raised from this event, like all Lions Club events, goes back into the community, Slykhuis explained.
The last Catch the Ace event raised $5,334.71 for the Canadian Tire Jumpstart program, which funds youth participation in sports. Funds were also given to youth camps for those with Diabetes and those who are blind. Each ticket is $5 and the winner of the jackpot for May 1 took home a minimum of $2,000.
Another event the local Lions Club organizes is the e-waste and scrap metal drive, which will take place May 20, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Sobeys parking lot at 40 Melbourne Dr.
E-waste includes cell/smart phones, laptops, monitors, keyboards, and other electronics. It's a great way to clean out and dispose of unused technology and metal for a good cause and keep the waste out of landfills, Slykhuis said.
The Lions are also supporting the Pet Valu Walk for Dog Guides. This event will be held Sunday, May 28, and all the proceeds raised go directly towards providing life-changing dog guides relied upon by Canadians with disabilities.
Simply show up with your dog or on your own and go for a walk with others to raise finances and awareness. To register you can stop in to the store and pick up a pledge form, or you can register virtually at www.walkfordogguides.com.
The Lions clubhouse is located behind ball diamond No. 1 at Joe Magani Park. Previously, the Lions were located at Lions Park.
This past weekend, local Lions Club volunteers were doing a cleanup of Joe Magani Park, which is one of the many behind-the-scenes services they provide, Slykhuis noted.
Currently, there are 32 members in the Bradford Lions Club, which is part of Lions Clubs international that boasts 1.35 million members in more than 45,000 clubs in over 200 countries and geographic areas.
The local club would love to grow.
“We can always use more volunteers," Slykhuis said. "I don’t know of any club that has enough volunteers. Some events we have lots of people out, some events we could use more.
"Some months we have three to four events, other months we don’t have any. Winter is slower, but spring, summer and fall are busy," he explained.
The Town of Bradford and the Bradford Lions work together on various community building events. The Lions Park is located in Ward 2.
“The Bradford Lions club is the definition of a fantastic community organization," said Ward 2 Coun. Jonathan Scott. "They do so much to support youth, provide recreation and build community – and they’ve done it for so long. They’re a true community-minded organization who do a lot of good.”
Mayor James Leduc echoed Scott’s sentiment.
“As a past member of the Bradford Lions Club, I have witnessed first-hand all the great work they have done and continue to do for this community," said Leduc.
For anyone wanting to join the Bradford Lions, Slykhuis said it's easy and all are welcome.
“We meet on the first Monday of every month, which is a dinner meeting," he explained. "When events come up, I email everyone. If anyone is interested in joining, reach out to a Lions member or look us up in the Leisure Guide and contact us. You can come to a meeting and meet the people.”