From the Lions Den By Gord Taylor

This January marked the 75th anniversary of the Millbrook and District Lions Club. In 1948, forty-two men from this township formed the club; amongst them landowners, farmers, businessmen and doctors with familiar names such as Fallis, Lowery, Medd, Challis, Wright, and Brackenridge. These men came together and with the sponsorship of the Peterborough Lions Club formed a club that would serve the community as well as assist others in the world who were in need.

According to the writings of the late Ron Wismer, the clubs first action was to raise money from draws to purchase glasses for a young girl and to help a needy family in the village. Assisting with the cause of preventing blindness and assisting the visually impaired is an cause that Lions Clubs throughout the world accepted when Helen Kellar challenged them to be her “Knights of the Blind in the fight against darkness” in 1925.

Under the leadership of the first President, Lion Gord Powell the club cleaned out a spring fed creek in the village, dammed it up and made a wading pool for the children.

In the winter of 1948-49, they built a skating rink on township property across from the mill and started a fund to raise money for a covered rink. With the help from the municipalities of Millbrook, Cavan, South Monaghan and Manvers, a block and covered rink with ice making capability was built in 1950

In 1975, a house explosion, 100 yards from the arena, damaged it so badly, it had to be demolished, and in January 1976, the Lions Club with the support of the community sponsored a fundraiser to rebuild. The new arena opened in 1976 in time for the opening of hockey.

In 1987, Lions Clubs International declared that the clubs would no longer be for men only and not too long after, the first three women joined the Millbrook Club. The club is now made up of men and women and is proud to have women serving on the Board as well as having had three women serve as club president in recent years.

The club continued to raise funds to support those in need both at home and overseas and the next major construction in the village was the Medical Building. The Lions Club organized the raising of money and later continued their support with fundraising for the elevator and extension. A representative of the Lions Club still sits on the Medical Centre Board.

It was time to find a permanent home for the club and attention was turned to having a Den and Community Hall. The club rented a Heritage School House from Cavan Township for 20 years at a dollar a year renewable and started renovations. The Lions, with assistance from a government grant have added a kitchen, bar area, washrooms, an office and a basement area to the school house as well as adding a garage and sign which displays community happenings as well as messages from the club. The Den is situated at Larmer Line and County Road 10.

The club has been working in the Millbrook and District area for 75years now and assist with such things as Community Care, Foodshare, the annual road cleanup of County Road 10, and school and library programs in the local community, as well as assisting families or individuals in need. Each year the club donates funds for awards to the local schools and assists with parent and school sponsored activities and have supported the local assistance programme for Belize.

A team of Lions members and other volunteers goes into the local schools every year to screen the vision of early primary students for vision difficulties, so that they can be referred to optometrists or ophthalmologists for diagnosis and treatment.

The club makes a large contribution annually to the Peterborough Regional Health Centre, as well as the Medical Centre to help ensure that members of the community have the best in health care. It has recently initiated a Literacy Initiative and provides books for primary children in our local schools each year and has built a Little Free Library which was installed at the Lions Den parking lot for all in the community to use. The Library was recently knocked over and will be reinstalled when the weather improves.

As well as assisting with local needs, the Lions contribute to the Guide Dog programme of Lions Foundation of Canada that provides service dogs for the blind, hearing impaired, physically disabled, as well as those with diabetes and those with convulsive disorders such as epilepsy. An annual Walk for Dogguides occurs in the spring to raise funds for this organization and utilizes the trails of Medds Mountain. The club also supports Leader Dogs in the United States who provide helper dogs for blind individuals including a local resident.

The Lions charitable foundation, Lions Club International Foundation has raised millions of dollars and has assisted in wiping out River Blindness, a disease which was a plague in underdeveloped countries. They recently teamed with the Gates Foundation to battle measles epidemics throughout the world and the Foundation continues to combat all types of preventable blindness through the Campaign Sight First programmes. They have also contributed large sums of money for disaster relief, including funds for Peterborough during the flooding a few years ago, Tsunami relief and assistance with relief for hurricane victims in the United States, Haiti, New Zealand and Pakistan.

Over the last few years, the Millbrook and District Lions Club began to serve monthly community breakfasts on the last Sunday of the month from September to April except in December. The club also purchased a large trailer and had it converted for food services. The trailer and the barbecue is made available at the Millbrook Fair and throughout the township when requested. As well, the Den and Lions Community Centre is rented out for small parties at a very reasonable rate.

It is the rule with Lions Clubs that moneys raised from the community will be returned to the community or spent on larger service projects. None of the money raised in the community can go to assist Lions members or the club to pay for meals, dues or other administrative costs, except to cover the costs incurred running the service project.

The Club continues to attract citizens who are interested in serving their local and global community and have a membership of over 60 members. Dinner meetings are held at    6:30 pm on the first and Monday of each month from September to June and Board of Directors meetings on the second Monday of each month.

It is the goal of the Millbrook and District Lions Club to live up to the Lions motto ``WE SERVE``. 

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