Catherine and Oliver and Ethan and I were the guests of the Winsloe Lions Club last night at their annual Charter Night dinner – a sort of “closing ceremonies” for the Lions year where pins and awards are given out and steaks and lobsters consumed.
Lions Clubs existed at the very periphery of my awareness until this year: I knew they did good works (pancake breakfasts at Prince Street School to support the Breakfast Program, for example), but otherwise I had them stored away in that part of my mind reserved for fraternal organizations, around the corner from Rotary and across the street from the Kinsmen. And that part of my mind is way, way in the back.
But Lions Foundation of Canada, an umbrella charity supported by Lions Clubs across the country, operates the Dog Guides, the program whence Ethan came into our Oliver’s life and spending a week at the Dog Guides training centre in Oakville and seeing the tremendous generosity of clubs from coast to coast to coast endeared me to the organization in a way that’s hard to describe.
We were in Winsloe mostly because Catherine and Oliver ran into King Lion Jason and his wife Michelle running a photo booth at the Charlottetown Mall where kids could get their picture taken with the Easter Bunny, with the proceeds going to Dog Guides. They saw Ethan, offered to take his photo with Oliver, and talked to Catherine about the upcoming Walk for Dog Guides. And then a few weeks later we got invited to come out to the Charter Night as special guests to allow the club to meet Oliver and Ethan and to allow us to tell them something about how their generosity pays off in our family.
Going to a Lions Club dinner is something that, as anyone who knows me will attest, falls way, way outside my comfort zone. But I feel we have a responsibility to share our story, especially with Lions, and so we happily agreed to attend.
It was an interesting night: we got to meet all of the Winsloe Lions, learn more about what they do, see their dedicated members receive awards for things like “taking the crib night to another level this year,” got a feed of lobster and steak (wherein I learned, again, that I have no idea how to eat a lobster) and a chance at the dessert table (pumpkin pie!).
And then I got to tell the story of Ethan – you can read my speech here.
Everyone we met was generous and supportive and deeply committed to the Dog Guides program. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better bunch of folks on the Island.
Doug Ford is the Lion on Prince Edward Island who represents Lions Foundation (he got his 40-year service pin last night) and I’ve offered to tell the same story to any club who’ll have us on PEI. As Doug is something of a dynamo, I expect we’ll be visiting a lot of clubs over the next while.