The Central Saanich Lions Club 

Was Chartered March 20, 1969 by 28 local men who saw a need for a service club, the Central Saanich Lions Club remains committed to community volunteer work by helping, leading, planning and supporting citizens and groups at the local, regional, national and international levels. The Central Saanich Lions was originally sponsored by the Sidney Lions Club and is part of Lions Club International whose mission statement is

“to empower volunteers to serve their communities, meet humanitarian needs, encourage peace and promote international understanding through Lions clubs.”

Over the past four decades, Central Saanich Lions Club members continue to uphold their motto—“we serve” by extending their acts of charity in two ways: (1) awarding grants to local, regional and national organizations such as the Canadian Diabetes Foundation, Victoria Prostate Cancer Centre, Victoria Therapeutic Riding Association and Sidney Lions Food Bank (Christmas Fund); and (2) providing manual labour and event coordination for such initiatives as the annual Christmas tree chip, firewood sales, annual Easter Egg Hunt, annual Halloween bonfire, various cookouts on the Saanich Peninsula as well as general landscaping and maintenance at Mount Newton Centre…just to name a few. Lions Club International is best known for its work in ensuring vision for all. In upholding this commitment, the Central Saanich Lions Club, in cooperation with School District #63 and local optometrists, provide vision screening/testing and eye glasses to elementary students in need who require vision correction.

 Most notably, the Central Saanich Lions Club’s initial acts of charity began in 1969 with Club members volunteering their time, labour as well as fundraising skills for various projects at Centennial Park on Wallace Drive. In Central Saanich Lions involvement in Centennial Park, Past Lions Ken MacDonald and Joe Sparrow documented the Club’s history with Centennial Park which included, but was not limited to, the following projects—“one of the first Centennial Park projects that the new Lions Club undertook was the building of a lacrosse box (1971)….In 1973, the Club prepared the ground, constructed the brick wall and assembled all of the equipment in the old (children’s) playground….In September 1983, the Municipality (of Central Saanich) approached the Lions about the possibility of creating a much needed lawn bowling green in the Park….In 1990, the Club spent 40 hours seeding the Park’s soccer pitches. In a later project, the Club supplied labour for fencing the soccer area…the Club supplied labour to construct the Babe Ruth concession and washroom facilities….Centennial Park is a prime example of the value of voluntary work in drawing people together to supply needed facilities.

According to Ken Marriette, Central Saanich Lions Club Member, “approximately 75% of the work that we do, stays in the community…the remaining 25% of our work supports projects on southern Vancouver Island and select national and international initiatives.” Marriette is the Central Saanich Lions Club’s Public Relations Representative where he liaises with the media about upcoming Club events, coordinates guest speakers for presentations to the Club membership, and promotes Club membership.

For Lion Ken Marriette, volunteering with the Club is about giving back to the community. He recalled how his parents shared with him at an early age that “charity begins at home.” This September, Marriette is entering his sixth year as a Central Saanich Lions Club Member. When Marriette initially joined the Central Saanich Lions Club, he was invited as a perspective member by a Lions Club “sponsor” to attend one of the Club’s general meetings. Marriette was moved by the Club members’ approval of funds to be provided to a local family in need for specific disability resources. After bearing witness to the approval of said funds in a unanimous vote, Marriette knew right then and there that this was the service club that aligned with his core values of commitment, camaraderie, volunteerism and connection to one’s community in terms of helping local citizens and their families when they are in need of assistance.

At present, Central Saanich Lions Club members are raising funds for the creation of a skateboard park which may “potentially” be located at Stelly’s High School. This fall, at the start of the school year in September, you will see the Lions “in action” cooking for several schools in the District. Other upcoming events in September 2014 are the Terry Fox Run (September 14, 2014 at 9:00 am—Centennial Park on Wallace Drive) where the Lions will be preparing breakfast for the annual Run, and “An English car affair in the park” (September 14, 2014 from 11:00 am—2:00 pm at Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site) where the Lions will be serving meals at this event which is coordinated by the Victoria English Car Club.

Led by Ken Burkowski (President of the Central SaanichLions Club), the Lions meet at their “den” (aka. the Lions Hall at 6994 East Saanich Road in Saanichton, BC) on the second and fourth Thursdays of each month for their general meetings. Marriette and his fellow Lions recognize that to sustain their community projects and fundraising endeavours, capacity building is needed in the form of increased Club membership. The Central Saanich Lions Club currently has 42 members and, on average, they are approximately 50+ years of age. Marriette indicated that “through the Club Improvement Program, we are looking for ways to attract new members and engage in promotion about our service to the community…in particular, we are exploring concepts related to having a portable information booth when we are hosting or participating in various community events, creating a Junior Chapter Program of the Central Saanich Lions to engage ‘the next generation’ of Lions which includes establishing a social media presence. In order to achieve all that we want to do and raise the money that will be required to do it, we need to increase our (membership) numbers to continue our commitment to serving our community.”

Did you know?

The Central Saanich Lions Club is part of Lions International District “I-19” which includes 51 other Lions clubs on Vancouver Island, BC and the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state.

Saanich Peninsula trivia: The lions “den”

According to Past Central Saanich Lion Joe Sparrow, the Central Saanich Lions’ current “den” (aka. Lions Hall Building on East Saanich Road) served the Saanich Peninsula in one semblance or another since 1894. The Hall was originally built by the Temperance Society with the original trustees being Harry Tanner, Alfred Gale, Harold Oates, William Michell and Andrew Stewart.

The Temperance Hall was built to provide a place where abstainers could conduct social activities and was available for use by other organizations strictly on a non-alcoholic basis. Organizations such as the South Saanich Women’s Institute and the South Saanich Farmers’ Institute utilized said facility in the early 20th century.

The Central Saanich Lions Club’s original “den” was at the Keating Coffee Shop near the Peninsula Co-op Store. In 1974, Lions Club President Ron Tidman, along with fellow Lions Ed Gait and Dick Gibson, convinced the District of Central Saanich Council that the former Temperance Hall (owned by the District) had a viable future, and that it was still valuable to the community if placed in the hands of the Lions Club. The council concurred. From 1974 to present, the Lions Club has held the Hall on East Saanich Road.

Did you know?

The Central Saanich Lions Club stores its cookout trailer and truck at the Central Saanich fire hall. The cookout trailer & truck has grills, tents and chairs that can be utilized as a remote/mobile kitchen for cooking at a triage center in the event of an emergency or related disaster in Central Saanich.

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