Brussels Leo Club marks five-year anniversary with Family Day celebration
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
This Monday, the Brussels Leo Club will be marking its fifth anniversary with a special open house to celebrate the club’s accomplishments since its inception in 2013.
The club is hosting a special come-and-go anniversary celebration on Monday, Feb. 19 from 1-3 p.m. at the Brussels Four Winds Barn.
Kathy Nichol, a Lions Club member who has been instrumental in the mentorship of the club in recent years, said that the Leos have accomplished so much in the last five years and that should be celebrated.
In the May 9, 2013 issue of The Citizen, Brussels Lions Club then-President Paul Mutter said that nearly 20 young people had expressed interest in joining the club. He anticipated it would be up and running by the end of June.
Mutter said the response to the Leo Club within the club had been “overwhelming” and he eagerly anticipated its formation.
The club took its next step on May 12 when Lions Brian Keller, Greg Ducharme, Tim Prior, Gary McCutcheon, Kathy Nichol and Paul Nichol all formed the Leo Club Advisory Committee to help the burgeoning club along in its early days.
The club officially received its charter that September and was in action soon thereafter. Members of the club held a fundraising barbecue at the final Brussels Farmers’ Market of the year the following month and spearheaded a food drive in late October.
They held a road hockey tournament in February, 2014 and made their first donation back into the community that April. The club pledged $550 to the Brussels Library Fund, which aided in the renovation and expansion of the village’s historic library.
In October, 2014, the club was approved for its first-ever grant when it received $7,500 from the Libro Credit Union. That money would eventually go towards the rehabilitation of the Brussels Sports Pad beside the Brussels, Morris and Grey Community Centre, the club’s first major community project.
The grant would prove to be a launching pad for the project, as members were working in the community for months to raise the funds to reinvigorate the pad, which now hosts road hockey, pickle ball and tennis, among other activities.
The pad officially reopened in September, 2015 on the day the Brussels Fall Fair opened.
Members of the club have taken the lead on annual bottle and food drives, raising thousands in the community that has then been reinvested into projects throughout Brussels. They also have made a habit of serving hot apple cider at the Brussels Santa Claus parade every year in addition to lending a hand at a number of Lions Club events throughout the year, such as the annual Elimination Draw, Fiddle Jamboree and community breakfasts.
In addition to the revitalization of the sports pad, the club has placed bicycle racks at the Brussels Library, donated money for new change rooms at the Brussels, Morris and Grey Community Centre and donated to the Brussels Legion for its recent renovation. Members also lay a wreath at the Brussels Remembrance Day service every year.
Seth Nichol was the club’s first president, followed by Sean Mitchell (who would go on to be one of 44 youth nominated for the Rural Ontario Institute’s Youth Engagement Showcase and a University of Guelph scholarship in 2016), Jasmine Vader and Megan Exel.
Nichol said that as an outsider, she has seen such a positive change in many club members over the years. In terms of leadership skills and confidence, those who have stepped up to take on the president’s role, she said, have changed so much.
Several club members have taken advantage of exchange programs offered through the Lions Club organization, travelling to countries such as Italy and Australia.
The club, which has in excess of 15 members, meets on the first and third Mondays of every month. It has built on the tradition of the community’s first Leo Club, which was in operation several decades ago. Many of its alumni still live in the Brussels community.
For more information on the international Leo Club program, visit lionsclubs.org and follow the Leo Club links.