Skip to content

Lions across Alberta unite to celebrate 70 years of service

Putting kindness into action
0203 Lions club ab 2 CC
Bill Webber, 88, a member of St. Albert Host Lions Club, proudly stands at Lions Park, an enduring project the club built in the 1970s. ANNA BOROWIECKI/St. Albert Gazette

The St. Albert Host Lions Club does a heck of a lot more than cook pancakes on a griddle. 

It rallies to provide disaster relief support, blood donor clinics, refugee sponsorship, and legacy scholarships for high school students, just to name a few projects. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. 

Throughout its existence, the local chapter has supported projects related to vision, the environment, childhood cancer, hunger, diabetes, and other pressing humanitarian needs across the nation and the world. 

This weekend, the Lions Club celebrates its 70th Charter Anniversary Banquet on Friday, March 4, followed by the District C-1 convention on Saturday, March 5, at St. Albert Inn. The district convention promises to attract province-wide delegates from Red Deer north to Yellowknife. 

The Friday festivities launch with cocktails and dinner, entertainment from hypnotist Wayne Lee and country music entertainer Zach Willier, and Judge Brian Stevenson of Calgary as the keynote speaker. 

A Lion since 1966, Stevenson is also a multiple-award-winner who served as president of the International Association of Lions Club and as its Good Will Ambassador. 

“He will be speaking about commitment to service. He’s a long-time friend, a good speaker, and a good entertainer, as well as providing meaningful insights,” said Bill Webber, 88. The senior Lion joined in 1964 and served as past president in 1967-68 and 1980-81. 

At the Saturday district convention, the keynote speaker will be Dr. Louis Hugo Francescutti, a major driver of the Bridge Healing Program. Based on the Tiny Villages project, this novel approach would combat homelessness using hospital emergency departments as a gateway to temporary housing. 

The Edmonton pilot project’s estimated costs are $1.5 million, which includes the construction of two buildings for the homeless, said Webber. 

“The district would supply kitchen equipment and furnishings. We’re looking to fundraise $150,000,” Webber said. “It’s a fascinating program. The convention is an opportunity to inform the district what is being planned and encourage them to contribute.” 

This is not the first major project where Lions have put kindness into action. The club is perhaps best known for Lions Park, a much-attended, multi-generational recreational park on Sir Winston Churchill Avenue in St. Albert. 

“It was one of the first things in the service club I was involved in. We spent many weekends in the park. It was primarily in the 70s we did the grunt work. It’s been an extremely well-used park. It doesn’t matter when you go, families are always there,” Webber said.  

Another long-standing signature project is support for the 533 Air Cadets — 100 young people who meet once a week at St. Albert Community Hall. The club provides financing to assist cadets taking various programs, including marksmanship, music in marching band, and flying courses. 

“The big attraction, of course, is getting a glider's licence. Once you have a glider’s licence you can get up to a powered licence.” 

One of the club’s most recent projects was pitching in to sort supplies and clothing donated to the Citadel Fire disaster relief. 

“Citadel received an amazing response in donated clothing, but they had difficulty sorting and distributing. Our members assisted with that,” said Webber. 

Whether it’s planting fruit trees at Lacombe Park Community Gardens, fundraising for seeing-eye dogs, or donating to the St. Albert Food Bank, the St. Albert Host Lions Club is always ready to contribute.  

Tickets for the charter anniversary are $50 per person while convention tickets are $130 per person. To purchase, visit www.e-clubhouse.org/sites/stalberthost/