Tatamagouche and District Lions Club King Lion Gary Johnson, middle, accepted the club’s charter designation from District Governor Perry Oliver, left, and Past International Director Rodd Wright. Raissa Tetanish photo

It was a memorable afternoon last month as the Tatamagouche and District Lions Club received its charter.

King Lion Gary Johnson accepted the charter on behalf of his fellow Lions, many of whom were gathered at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 62 that day.

“It’s with heartfelt gratitude to be part of this…we are eager to start our service,” Johnson said, in front of Lions club members from throughout the province, as well as his own. “We’ll use the Lions motto to guide our community service. We’re looking forward to fellowship, team work, and satisfaction. Together, we’ll be able to make a difference in the lives of the less fortunate, and in our own. Let us demonstrate to everyone the true meaning of ‘we serve.’”

During the charter designation ceremony, the local Lions were joined by Past International Director Rodd Wright, District Governor Perry Oliver, and Past District Governor of Nova Scotia Clair Brunelle, who was also sponsoring the club.

Oliver said there has been a lot of work done to prepare for the charter designation, and that it was about two years in the making.

“We’re asking all members to keep in mind membership, growth, leadership, and service,” said Oliver. “It’s great to see service can be done in this community to extend the neighbourhood, and that people have stepped up and are already taking on leadership of this club.”

While the club has already grown from five to 24 members at the time of the charter designation, Oliver told those gathered new ideas are needed in leadership.

“We’ll need people to take over what we do and to keep it going,” he said.

It had been more than 20 years since Tatamagouche had seen a Lions Club, but a group of people got together almost two years ago now for a revitalization.

During the charter designation, Johnson paid tribute to three men who were in attendance – Tip Smith, Floyd Tucker, and Warren Jollimore.

The three were members of the original Lions Club in Tatamagouche more than two decades ago.

“It’s Lions like them who put us where we are today,” said Johnson.

Since the club was revitalized, members have been involved in the community in a variety of ways, such as hosting barbecues to raise funds to help purchase an accessible van for Coulson Mattatall, and a specialized car seat for Paige Doucette.

They’ve hosted yard sales and bottle drives, raising money to keep in the community. Members have helped out with Meals on Wheels, assisted with acquiring a cane from the CNIB, and collected and distributed medical equipment to those in need, just to name only a few.

They’ve helped clean the library, fixed picnic tables, and painted community benches, and have worked on joint ventures with other organizations, including the River John Lions Club and Odd Fellows Club.

There are also a number of things planned for the future, including working on the creation of a Leos Club for youth.

Dressed in a suit and bow tie, Wright told the newly designated club they are part of the family of Lions that are alive and well throughout the world.

“I’m still just a Lion,” said Wright, adding if members attend a meeting and someone has a suit on, they’re still just a Lion. “It’s about what’s coming from the inside. It’s what you feel, and what you do in your community. We’re Lions and we do what we have to do to work together.”

Wright said the best comment he’s heard is to have fun while serving the community.

“Lions clubs that forget to have fun don’t last. The people leave,” he said.

Knowing what the club has been doing since it began last year, Wright said it’s been tremendous.

“You need to be proud of what you’ve done,” he said, while also reminding members to support national and international programs the Lions organization supports, such as a dog guide program.

He also told them the light comes on at different times for different people as to when they realize they’re a ‘true Lion.’

He gave an example of taking a Christmas basket, complete with dinner, toys for the kids, and a gift for the single mom, to a home. There was no tree, no gifts, no decorations, and no wreath on the door.

He said the children were playing with a cardboard box and a small ball.

The single mother stood in the doorway with tears in her eyes.

“She didn’t know how she was going to tell her kids there was no Santa,” Wright said. “She didn’t have the money for a Christmas.

“You don’t know what impact you’re going to have. That’s the service Lions do. That’s the rejuvenation the Lions Club has.”

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The Tatamagouche Recycling Depot, located at 102 Main St., has given permission for the Tatamagouche and District Lions Club to collect funds from donated pop, beer, and liqueur bottles, as well as juice cans, bottles, boxes, and cartons. When dropping off refundables, mention they are for the Lions Club.