It was fifty years ago that Ron Graves was watching what the 100 Mile House Lions Club was doing for the community, including the initial stages of making Centennial Park, as he was walking home from school every evening.
“I was approached by one of the Lions, who had asked if I was interested in becoming a member. So I went to a couple meetings and decided, yeah, this is for me and the rest speaks for itself,” said Graves, who was awarded a 50th Anniversary pin for his service to the club on Jan. 2.
Graves was involved in various projects over the past five decades, including the Christmas hampers, cutting and delivery of firewood, and putting on various activities to raise money for community functions such as sports facilities, clubs and helping out individuals in a tough spot.
“There’s not one particular activity that stands out as any more than any other because each had their own reasons why the club got involved either at a community level or an individual level. They all sort of blend together as being part of a total package,” he said. “The things that are visible within the community are obviously things that we are, as a club, very proud of and I was fortunate to be part of it.”
One particular project he did mention was the club helping a former student of his, along with the Rotary Club, get a huff-and-puff wheelchair that gave her mobility for the time she had left after she became paraplegic.
“The contributions from this club to the community have been significant and outstanding,” he said, speaking about the park, Parkside Art Gallery, and contributions to the Hospice Society, sports facilities and clubs, and scholarships for students at both the academic and trades level.
Being part of the club for five decades, Graves was a witness to a lot of change and evolution to the club. However, nothing sticks out to him further than when the club, originally founded as a men-only club in Chicago, allowed women to become full-fledged members.
About 25 years ago, the 100 Mile House club saw their members decrease from over 40 to around 10 after chapters formed in 108 Mile Ranch, Forest Grove and the Interlakes area. The 100 Mile House club had to work to rebuild their membership, and fortunately at the same time, Lions International made a significant change.
“Lions International realized there was a tremendous resource in the other half of the population,” said Graves. “Had it not been for the women who joined the club and became active members and in leadership roles, there would not be a 100 Mile House Lions Club. So that was the most significant far-reaching changes that had been made in the organization in our community and Lions International.”
Graves said he will continue to be active with the Lions Club.