With the awarding of its annual university student bursaries, the Smithers chapter of the Lions Club has completed its final service to the community.
Earlier this year, the club announced that due to “aging and dwindling membership” it would dissolve at the end of 2020 after 56 years.
The Lions received nine applications for the bursaries and awarded three recipients $1,000 each. The students were Trichelle Reay, Chantal Gammie and Nadine Kerr.
In her standout eassay, which appears in full on Page A8, Reay, a criminology student at Vancouver Island University who plans to complete a law degree, addressed the very issue that led to the end for the Lions in Smithers. She argues in the time of COVID-19, volunteering is more important that ever.
“The need for volunteer-based community services reached an unprecedented high during a time when the very people that volunteer are among the group of most at-risk individuals, being that many of our volunteers are retirees within our communities,” she wrote.
“Additionally, those volunteers not in the more at-risk groups, found that because of the age or health of their family members, the risks of volunteering prevented them from engaging in activities they normally would participate in.”
In addition to wrapping up its activitie,s the club has also been busy divesting itself of its assets.
In July, CICK, Smithers Community Radio, bought the railcar, which the Lions brought to Smithers in 1975 and from which the station has been broadcasting for the past seven years.
More recently, the Lions sold the Lions Den (food concession booth) and shelter at the fairgrounds to the Royal Canadian Legion.
One thing that is going to survive the dissolution of the club is its annual Cub 222 raffle. Over the years, the fundraiser has been one of the Lions’ largest sources of revenue raising more than $200,000 that sponsored sports teams, paid for sport facility upgrades, helped individuals travel out of the area for medical reasons, helped purchase medical equipment for individuals, helped to cover the costs of making homes wheelchair accessible and provided bursaries for both high school and university students.
In September the Lions announced Smithers Fire Rescue was taking over the raffle. The fire department said it will use the funds to support Muscular Dystrophy Canada, its long-term charity that its Harley Davidson raffle used to fund.