After 37 years, the Parksville Lioness Club has disbanded.
The service organization of women in the region had fundraised for numerous events in Parksville Qualicum Beach since 1984.
In 2018, Lions Club International decided that sponsoring Lions Clubs could no longer cover the Lioness group under their insurance as of June 30, 2021.
The Parksville chapter was told they were welcome to join the Lions Club but many members said they were unlikely to do so.
“Maybe if we were 40, we might have done that,” said treasurer, Kirsteen McLean, with a chuckle.
“We will all continue to help the community in whatever way we choose, individually, and hopefully we will all stay together as friends,” said president Bev Swann.
On Tuesday, June 22, the Lionesses held one of their last get-togethers at Foster Park to enjoy lunch and reminisce about the good they’ve done for the community.
Although the group was sponsored by the Lions Club, they fundraised and donated to their own various causes.
Their main fundraising efforts were predominately done through catering events, craft fairs and the occasional Christmas raffle.
Over the past five years, McLean said they had donated more than $100,000 to different causes, budgeting approximately $28,000 a year.
“Five years ago we decided to focus on food insecurity in our community,” she said. “And that’s when we started to really ramp up to the Salvation Army.”
Over the course of five years, she said they gave more than $35,000 to the Salvation Army alone.
They have also donated $2,500 in scholarships annually, shared between Ballenas Secondary School and Vancouver Island University students.
The Lionesses were also one of first clubs in 2019 to donate to the Parksville Outdoor Threatre, a project still underway.
They held craft fairs at the Parksville Community Centre, and lament not being able to do so again, regardless of their club disbanding, because of the community centre’s closure to the public at the start of 2021.
One of the remaining founding members, Phyllis Gould, said the club has changed tremendously in the past 37 years.
“We were just a small group that met in a tiny room in the old community hall. We had about 28 members back then.”
Lioness Noreen Giroux said membership had dwindled in the past 10 or 15 years, mostly due to the lack of new women joining, and previous members dying or moving out-of-town.
“Once you’re a volunteer, like all of us are, one of the most important things that you do is volunteer,”said Swann. “Were going to miss the fun, and all the laughter.”