Growing up in 100 Mile House, Justin Case remembers seeing the local Lions Club out in the community, serving up burgers at the car shows and raising money for important projects.
He never forgot it.
Now, 36, Case is well into his first year as president of the 100 Mile Lions Club, having taken the reins last summer in the midst of a global pandemic that posed many challenges for his and other community groups.
“The 100 Mile Lions has been a huge part of building this community for families,” Case told the Free Press. “That’s part of why I always wanted to get involved.”
With the encouragement of several longtime Lions members, Case first joined the club in 2019. One member who has been especially helpful with his transition to his presidential role is Lion Ron Graves, who has been with the club for decades,
“It’s something that I’ve really enjoyed doing over the various years,” Graves said. “Especially the camaraderie that goes along with being a member of a group that has common interests.”
The club’s motto is “we serve,” and as Graves notes, each individual club – of which there are 42,000 worldwide – decides how their community might be best served by their work. Local projects involving the 100 Mile Lions Club include the development of the soccer fields, construction of Centennial Park, forest fire relief and annual scholarships offered to Peter Skene Ogden students.
READ MORE: 100 Mile Lions launch cash lottery
Funds are raised in the community by way of barbecues, raffles and the club’s annual dinner and auction. The latter event was cancelled last year due to COVID-19 restrictions, which has impacted the club’s fundraising efforts and posed the biggest pandemic-related challenge, according to Case.
“The community usually supports us hugely with donations, but right now, going to a business that has had its income cut in some cases by 80 per cent, I personally couldn’t do that,” Case explained. “Don’t get me wrong, this community is known for helping out a lot.”
Another big adjustment for the club and its 32 members has been moving their twice-monthly meetings online, which Case notes took some time to get used to. While the club is grateful to be able to stay connected via Zoom, Case admits that without being able to gather in person, the sense of togetherness is not quite the same.
Looking ahead to the future of the 100 Mile Lions, Case said he is grateful for the support and mentorship of long-term members who can reflect on the club’s 63-year history and the changes that have taken place over the decades. When asked what some of the biggest changes have been during his many years with the Lions, Graves is quick to respond.
“The realization that we were leaving out half the population,” Graves said, referring to the club’s former men-only policy within its membership, which was revoked more than 20 years ago.
Graves recalled some resistance to the change – and even the departure of a handful of members over it – but said the benefit of including women in the club has been immense.
“100 Mile would not have a Lions Club in any form if they had not opened up the membership to women,” Graves said, adding that more than half of the current members are women.
Next up for the 100 Mile Lions is a cash raffle that kicks off today (April 1). Just 2,000 tickets will be for sale at various business fronts around the community, including Midori Day Spa, Exquisite Florals and Gifts and the Free Press. The lottery, which runs until Aug. 14, has three prizes up for grabs: $7,000, $2,000 and $1,000.
Case hinted at another project in the works to help local seniors, but says details can’t be fully revealed until the plans are solidified.
The group is always welcoming new members of all ages, Case said, and more information can be found on its Facebook page.
“I think some people can be a little put off by the amount of time commitment it would take to be involved, but because we’re such a big group, the volunteering is really spread out throughout the group,” Case said. “All of our members contribute in different ways.”