26 August 2021

Lions Club still on the job as funds secured for Quaama Memorial Park

| Katrina Condie
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Lions Tool Library volunteers in the Bega Valley

Despite COVID-19 restrictions, Lions volunteers are still doing all they can to help the community recover from the Black Summer bushfires. Photo: Lions Tool Library.

Lions Clubs from across the globe have contributed funds towards the upgrade of Quaama Memorial Park.

The Lions Club International Foundation has granted more than $500,000 to four projects in southern NSW, including the Quaama park, which will provide a sanctuary for reflection and relaxation for people hit hard by the Black Summer bushfires and COVID-19 pandemic.

In October 2020, local Lions clubs applied for the grant, and Lions District Governor Gordon Matthews was thrilled to receive the good news during the past weekend (21-22 August, 2021).

He says about $100,000 will be put towards a barbecue shelter and picnic facilities in the park, with work expected to commence within weeks.

“The park will have picnic areas as well as playground facilities for the kids,” says Gordon.

“Council staff and builders will carry out most of the work, but our Lions members will be right there doing a lot of the hard labour.”

A masterplan for the park includes improved accessibility, as well as level areas to host small markets, occasional food van evenings and local entertainment events.

Gordon says the park will provide “a place where people can go to sit down and reflect, look at the present and make plans for the future”.

“It’s an area where people can go to totally relax and relieve some of the mental stress of the bushfires and COVID-19,” he adds.

Since the bushfires, which impacted 80 per cent of his district, Gordon says hundreds of Lions volunteers have worked tirelessly to help as many people and impacted communities as possible.

They’ve been working with dozens of different groups and agencies to set up services such as a mobile tool library, helping with fencing rural properties, and establishing housing pods for fire victims.

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While COVID-19 has thrown a spanner in the works as far as funding goes, the Lions Clubs are still doing whatever they can to lend a hand.

“We haven’t been able to have our golf days, music festivals or fundraising barbecues due to COVID-19 so that’s had a big impact, but we have had incredible financial support from the Lions network around the world,” says Gordon.

“We’ve received assistance from our partners and many organisations, such as Bankstown Sports Club that donated $31,000 towards a park at Callala Bay.”

Gordon says during the latest COVID-19 lockdown, Lions members are still checking in with vulnerable people in their communities via regular phone calls.

“We’re doing as much as we can and people know that if they need something, they can call us and we’ll help out,” he explains.

With hundreds of members working hard behind the scenes throughout southeast NSW – from Fairfield in the north to the Victorian border in the south, and west to Canberra and Yass – Gordon says Lions plays an essential role in local communities.

“We have some very large clubs in our district, and then you have the smallest club at Bermagui and Cobargo, which has nine members but they do the work of 90,” he says.

From caring for kids in quarantine and delivering food to hospitals and vaccination hubs, to sending oxygen machines to countries in need overseas, Lions volunteers across Australia continue to go above and beyond during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lions Australia CEO Rob Oerlemans says he is delighted to see how volunteers across Australia are continuing to support their communities.

“At Lions, we pride ourselves on the work we do to help others and make our communities better places to live,” he says.

“Right now, our service is needed more than ever.

“From raffles, sausage sizzles and trivia nights, to environmental work and supporting the deaf, blind and vulnerable, our volunteers are traditionally very hands-on and involved in their communities.”

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