Guildford Lions Club members Joe Brown and Theresa Williams fear for the viability of the community group, which has seen a decline in membership. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

‘We’re panicking’: Guildford Lions Club appeals for new members to remain active in Surrey

Just three members showed up for the club’s last meeting, so it was cancelled

Joe Brown and Theresa Williams are desperate for help to save the organization that helps others in the community.

“I’m really worried,” said Brown, a 30-year member of Guildford Lions Club. “We had a meeting last week and only three of us were there, so it was cancelled. It weighs heavy on my heart to think we might no longer be here, be operating.”

His thoughts are echoed by Williams, the club’s current president.

The primary goal of the non-profit group is to support needy people in the community, according to Brown who, like Williams, is a retiree.

“We do pancake breakfasts and any other event where we’re needed, for seniors and other people in the community, that kind of thing,” Brown explained. “When we raise money, we give it to people who need it, with bursaries and scholarships, dry grads, for programs in the community.”

Funds have dried up, meaning those donations are all but gone – at least for the time being.

Low club membership numbers caused the loss of a provincial gaming grant, Brown said.

“People are just so busy, we know that,” Williams said. “It’s just the way society is nowadays, you know. A lot of them don’t mind coming to the meetings and having supper, all that, but it’s sometimes a different story when it comes to projects and being there for those, there’s always an excuse – too busy or whatever.”

Last month, Brown wrote to the Now-Leader appealing for new club members, “so we can continue to help and serve, and carry on the work that has been ongoing for over 40 years.”

Brown got involved in the club in the late-1980s, when membership totalled 16 people. The high-water mark was 32 members in the early 1990s, he said.

Williams got involved three years ago, after meeting Brown for the first time at Prairie Cafe on Fraser Highway.

“Everybody knows each other there,” she said, “and I was in seventh heaven about all the stuff Joe was saying, about how the club helps people, and works. I had never heard about the Lions Club until that day, and I’d been out here for years. I’ve always loved helping people, that’s been a passion since I was just little.”

Club members meet on the second and fourth Tuesday of every month at the Boston Pizza restaurant in Guildford, 15125 100th Ave., starting at 6:30 p.m. Club contact information can be found at e-clubhouse.org/sites/guildfordbc, or call Brown at 778-319-9606.

The club’s work isn’t limited to the Guildford area, Brown noted, and recent members have lived as far away as Langley and Abbotsford.

“We’re both retired, and we’re the most active members,” Brown, a Newton-area resident, told the Now-Leader. “We’re panicking in here,” he said, pointing to his chest. “Things have changed. The city is big now, and it’s tough to attract attention, especially with young people, in their mid-20s or even mid-30s. If it’s not on their iPhone or iPad, forget about it, so that’s what we’re faced with.”

In 2016, the club was recognized by its governing organization for attracting eight new members, with another seven new recruits added last year, but that helped has all but dried up.

”We had good members,” Williams said, “but some have health problems and can’t make the meetings, or they’ve gotten jobs or just moved away. We need to replace them.”



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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