Former zone chairman for Clearwater-Vavenby Lions Club, Len Sonneson (l), receives his 40-year pin from Lions Club first vice district governor, Wayne Atkinson (r), on Nov. 1, 2017. Due to declining membership, the local club disbanded in March of 2019. Photo submitted

Former zone chairman for Clearwater-Vavenby Lions Club, Len Sonneson (l), receives his 40-year pin from Lions Club first vice district governor, Wayne Atkinson (r), on Nov. 1, 2017. Due to declining membership, the local club disbanded in March of 2019. Photo submitted

Farewell to the Clearwater-Vavenby Lions Club

Due to declining membership, the local club disbanded in March of 2019

Submitted

The Clearwater-Vavenby Lions Club was a local group of service-minded men and women who volunteered to support our community.

The Clearwater Lions Club was started in 1963; the Vavenby Lions Club was founded in 1977. Len Sonneson was a charter member of the Vavenby Lions Club. These two clubs amalgamated in 1991 and due to declining membership, the local club disbanded in March of 2019.

Originally there were six Lions Clubs in our North Thompson Valley: Valemount, Blue River, Vavenby, Clearwater, Little Fort, and Barriere. Therefore, a Zone Chairman was responsible for overseeing the Lions Clubs from Valemount to Heffley Creek. Some past Zone Chairmen from our club include Alf Graffunder (four years), Garwin Gebert (one year), Len Sonneson (one year), Dave Pease (two years), Al Hack (one year), Jake Bergen (three years), Rene Simson (one year), Bruce Grant (one year), Susan Williams (one year), Greg Penny (two years) to name a few.

When the Clearwater-Vavenby Lions Club disbanded, it had only a few active members left.

A short list of our local Lions Club fundraising or service past projects includes: the Lions Club birthday calendars, Dutch Lake Canoe Regatta, fishing derbies on Graffunder Lake, moved a cook shack from the Vavenby Mill to the Vavenby ballpark, built a dock on Momich Beach on Adams Lake, Mother’s Day pancake breakfasts, Snowrama, fall fairs, mud bogs, weddings, dances, and other such functions.

Lions Clubs dying out with aging population

Provincially, the Lions Clubs of BC sponsor Easter Seal House in Vancouver for families with children who have a long hospital stay. Lions Clubs also raise money for Camp Winfield, a camp for children with special needs. Our local Lions Club sponsored local children to attend this camp.

Our Lions Club helped to support and improve lives in our community. As recently as the winter of 2018, our Lions Club partnered with Brett Turcotte, a local snowmobile phenomenon and X-Games gold medal winner, to raise funds and awareness for Camp Winfield by sponsoring snowmobile races and daredevil exhibition riding in Clearwater.

The Lions Clubs played a large part in the building of Evergreen Acres, the independent living seniors apartments located in Clearwater near Dr. Helmcken Memorial Hospital. In the past, the North Thompson Valley Lions Clubs supported the “Amanda Project.” Lions Clubs from Valemount, Blue River, Vavenby, Clearwater, Little Fort, and Barriere contributed money to help a little girl from Blue River. Annually our Lions Club has provided bursaries for graduates of Clearwater Secondary School.

Traditionally our local Lions Club has provided money ($200) to victims of house fires, wheelchair ramps, and assistance for those traveling far from home for medical needs. The Lions Club has provided small cuddly teddy bears for Dr. Helmcken Memorial Hospital, ambulance, and RCMP members to distribute to children undergoing sudden trauma.

Faithfully, at each year’s end, our Lions Club served a free Christmas dinner to the seniors of our community. Unless another group steps up to take this on, there will be no free Christmas dinner for seniors, a long-standing tradition in our community. Lions Clubs have had a long, productive history in our valley.

Thank you, Lions, for all you have done. You will be missed!

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