The intoxicating smell of sausages and onions frying on a Saturday morning in Urunga means that the Urunga Lions Club are hard at it. Again!! “Only torrential rain or wind can keep us away” says Emily Struik, Urunga Lions Treasurer, (above far right, with from left Nora Brooks, Pam Hayne & Japanese exchange student Wakana). “If we miss a Saturday, the locals aren’t happy,” laughs Emily.
This is the Club that could. It is only 5 short years since the Club was formally chartered, but in that time has managed to support innumerable local groups and initiatives. “Every cent raised in the community goes back to the community,” says Emily.
Just some of the worthwhile causes and projects that have benefited from the hardworking Urunga Lions team include the Sail Training Club in Urunga, who were gifted special water mats for the disabled. “The mats allow disabled children to be transported out to the sail boats,” says Emily.
The Raleigh Urunga Masonic Village were also gifted indoor bowls mats and balls. In fact, the list goes on. One could be curious about just how far the money raised from the weekly BBQ can stretch. “We also raise funds through our Christmas cakes and mints. For major projects we can apply for a grant from the Australian Lions Foundation and if approved they will match the funds we raise dollar for dollar,” says Emily.
And Emily’s ingenious plan to take advantage of the ‘Return and Earn’ for recyclables is a real boost to the club’s coffers. “So far this year we have raised an extra $3000 for the Club. Give me something I’m passionate about and I’m off,” says Emily.
Emily’s particular passion is the Lions International Student Exchange Program. “I’ve been a host for international students for years, even before I was a Lion. The Urunga Lions Club has hosted more than 30 International students through this program in the past 5 years,” says Emily.
Lions Clubs across the district will often assist each other with larger projects. “We are like one big family,” says Emily. In fact, each year a portion of each club’s funds will be be donated to the current District Governor’s Project. This year’s project is the Australian Lions Children’s Mobility Foundation- assisting kids with mobility issues to be able to walk through provision of aids.
Emily and her equally industrious colleagues commit hours each week to the cause. Emily is currently working up to 30 hours per week on Lion’s business. “This club has a core group of extremely dedicated workers. Jo and Peter Brotherton and Nora and Ken Brookes got the Club off the ground and continue to work tirelessly for the Lions,” says Emily.
The group see a need and act. Whether it’s Christmas food hampers for families in need or the annual funding of 3 local primary school children to attend ‘Camp Getaway’ on the Central Coast, this group make it happen.
And for those Bellingen Shire locals who have watched with interest the erection of the BBQs and shelter on the Kalang River in what was always ‘Lion’s Park’, there is more to come. Tables will soon be added before the official opening later in the year.
So again next Saturday the Urunga-Myelstom community can be assured that it will wake to the smell of the reliable egg and bacon rolls and sausage sandwiches, knowing that the community is in very capable hands.