Penhold Lions Club may be about to fold

For nearly four decades, the Penhold Lions Club has been volunteering and raising money for local causes.

For nearly four decades, the Penhold Lions Club has been volunteering and raising money for local causes.

It looks like that long history may come to an end in the next few weeks, the fate of the town’s only service club sealed by dwindling membership and a lack of community interest.

The club’s struggles have been well publicized lately, but there has been no response from the community, said president Jim Carton.

“Nothing’s changed. We’ve had no phone calls, no nothing.

“If nothing happens in the next week, we’ll probably pull the pin at the end of the year.”

Carton said the Penhold Lions aren’t the only organization that has struggled. He noted the Blackfalds Lions Club folded years ago and the Red Deer Royal Canadian Legion is looking at leasing out more of its building for commercial space to help cover rising costs at a time when membership numbers are falling.

“I don’t think it’s just the Lions. I think every organization is in the same way.

“People are too busy doing other things.” Many people still volunteer, but it is often done individually and not through local organizations.

Carton said the 38-year-old club has put a lot of money into the community over the years.

“There’s pages of stuff they’ve done. I don’t think half the community even knows.”

In recent weeks, $22,000 has been doled out as the organization looks to clear its bank account. STARS, a guide dogs organization, the Penhold Drop-In Centre, Penhold Museum and the Penhold Tranquility Park are just a few of the initiatives that were supported.

The demise of the club has been coming for some time. It’s been three years since a fundraiser was held, a steak dinner night organized with the local firefighters.

“The end of it is it’s not a shortage of money. It’s a shortage of people and it’s a shortage of interest,” he said.

Penhold Mayor Julia King said disbanding the Lions would be a loss to the community.

“It’s truly sad to see a good organization like this look at closing,” King said. “It’s been a staple in the community for a long time.”

The service club news has been better in Sylvan Lake. The recently formed Lakeview Optimist Club held its charter banquet last week and a couple of fundraising events have been organized.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com