By Bob Groeneveld/Langley Advance Times
Langley has had the benefit of Lions community service for 75 years, as of this month.
And perhaps no part of the community seen greater service from the Langley Lions than our seniors.
The biggest, most ambitious project undertaken by the Langley Lions in its 75-year history was – and continues to be – the services provided to seniors through the Langley Lions Housing Society.
The society was formed in the early 1970s to ensure that affordable housing would be available to the community’s aging population.
It started with the Rainbow Lodge cluster of seniors housing, which expanded from three original buildings including almost 300 units to a complex roughly twice that size, in addition to further expansions in other parts of Langley.
The Langley Prairie Lions Club was chartered in the village of Langley Prairie on June 12, 1944.
Both the club and the village have undergone significant changes since then.
Langley Prairie, once one of six “wards” that made up Langley Township, is now Langley City, a separate municipality.
And the Lions have long since dropped the “Prairie” from their name.
Some things haven’t changed over the years.
The Langley Lions Club still has at its heart the community spirit that has driven it to do so much for Langley in its 75 years of service.
Current president Yvonne Stearns noted, “We have many special projects, but I do believe one of the many that we do in the community which has major impact is our Christmas Kettle Drive. We start this at the end on November and go until Christmas Eve. We then donate all the proceeds to The Langley Christmas Bureau.”
One of the Lions’ most important sources of revenue is its highly visible mobile food concession, seen at virtually every significant community event in Langley.
“We raise funds for Lions Foundation of Canada, for Dog Guides,” said Stearns, “and recently we’ve held Pet Valu Walk for Dog Guides, in which participants raise funds to complete the walk. And 100 per cent of those funds go directly to the foundation to provide dogs.”
She added that an especially “wonderful” aspect to this year’s event was that “we had two families from Langley participate that had received the Guide Dogs.”
In the past, when the Lions perceived a need for a paddling pool for children in Langley, they built one in what was then Langley Athletic Park.
They played an important role in building minor hockey in Langley, with financial support, while many Lions members were directly involved as coaches, parents, and behind-the-scenes boosters.
The Lions bought an Easter Seal bus for Langley, to help people with physical disabilities get around, and have since provided manual and electric wheelchairs to those who have needed them.
They bought equipment for Langley’s hospital, for the local fire department, and for other service organizations, and their scholarships and bursaries helped innumerable young men and women through university and other post secondary education.
The Lions have supported Langley Christmas Bureau, Langley Lodge, and numerous other important caring community initiatives.
The Lions Mothers Day Breakfast has been a mainstay in Langley since 1961.
Historically – and currently – the list of services provided to Langley by their local Lions Club seems endless.
In January 2010, the Lions took over management of the West Langley Hall by renting out the facility to various community and private event groups.
It was there that the approximately three dozen current members of the Langley Lions held a dinner in May to mark their 75th anniversary – a relatively quiet event for a group that has such a booming impact on Langley as a whole.