Hear the West Shore Lions Club roar as it celebrates 60 years of community service.
The only thing is, President Ed Vishek and the other members of the club seem to be too busy lending a helping hand to truly be able to celebrate.
Vishek said the club is celebrating its 60th anniversary in modest ways, which reflects the club’s general attitude about spending money on itself.
“We raise a lot of money and we give it all away,” Vishek said.
The main event saw members come together for a November dinner at the Royal Colwood Golf Club to celebrate.
“That’s our celebration. Low key,” Vishek said. “We put efforts into the community, not ourselves.”
The club started as the Langford and District Lions Club in October of 1953. About 20 years later, the name changed to South Van Isle Lions Club. The Metchosin Lions Club started up, with sponsorship from the Langford-based club, about 25 years ago.
Due to dwindling numbers, the two clubs merged in 2008 to form the West Shore Lions.
Vishek has now been a Lion for 22 years and is in his fourth term as president of the West Shore club. There are some members who have been involved for more than 40 years, Vishek said.
The Lions motto is “We serve,” with each club generally focused on a specific area of interest.
“We look after things like sight, hearing, speech, diabetes, youth outreach, international relations and environmental issues,” Vishek said. “We try and stay non-political.”
On the West Shore, they fund three $1,500 scholarships awarded to Belmont secondary school grads each year. Money is also used to sponsor Girl Guides, Boy Scouts and all factions of the cadets. Donations are made to the Goldstream Food Bank and the Christmas hamper fund.
The future effectiveness of the Lions is uncertain at this point, due again to low numbers.
“Service clubs across Canada are in trouble,” Vishek said. “We have an aging population, there’s too many other things to do for younger people and we’re having a hard time getting members.”
The average age for the club today is older than 70, Vishek said, and numbers are down to about 30 members. At one time the club had about 50 members, but has also hit points as low as 14 members.
The right type of person to join is the person who likes to give back to the community, Vishek said.
“You do what you can, when you can,” he said. “I enjoy working with other people who have the same interest that I have in helping out the community.”
One of the club’s biggest events is the annual Christmas tree mulch at Westshore Town Centre, where the club chips trees by donations to Easter Seals Camp Shawnigan, a summer camp for children with disabilities. This holiday season the mulch will be held Jan. 4 and 5.