St. Davids Lion Allen Snider hopes to become an international director. (Photo supplied)
The International Association of Lions’ motto is “We Serve.”
It’s a motto that was easy for St. Davids Lion Al Snider to make his own — it’s as deeply-rooted in who he is as in the service club he joined about 40 years ago. Now he’s hoping to serve at an international level.
Snider’s service to his community, and to the wider Lions community, began before he was a member, when he was drawn into helping out at the annual St. Davids Lions Carnival.
He remembers his early years spent in the bingo tent, happy to help but wishing there was a different job he could do.
When he mentioned he might like to try his hand at something else, he was told the way to get out of the bingo tent was to join the club, so he did.
It took a few more carnivals before he graduated from bingo, but since then, he’s been club president three times, club treasurer, carnival treasurer, district governor, and has taken on other offices and training roles, both locally and across the A-2 district, which includes 40 Lions clubs from Fort Erie to Tillsonburg.
He’s received many Lions awards, and one from the Town for community service.
He’s been a trustee for the local board of education, as well as chair and vice-chair. He was a town councillor for one term, and is now the chair of the Town’s committee of adjustment.
When it comes to volunteerism, his parents, Mary and George Snider, set an example for the family. His brother Doug, sister Betty, and now his son Richard have all followed in a commitment to Lionism. His wife Susan, a paramedic, is also a St. Davids Lion, and her oldest daughter is about to join the club as well.
Now, with the blessing and some financial support from his club, he’s set his sights on becoming the international director for Lions clubs across the country. If successful, he will be the only Canadian sitting on the board of the international association, with 35 other Lions from around the world.
The job, he says, “is 75 per cent about being an ambassador for Lionism in North America. There will be a lot of travelling through the U.S. and Canada, especially during the winter months when the district conventions are held,” says Snider.
A small portion will be attending board meetings around the world, wherever they’re held, he says.
So far, he’s feeling good about the chances of earning the title — there isn’t anyone running against him. The vote occurs during the provincial Lions convention in May, so there is still a possibility someone might go up against him.
“If there are people out there who don’t think I’m doing a good job, or taking this seriously, they might run against me,” he says, but he’s been travelling across the province for almost a year now, talking to other clubs, and feels he has good support.
In Canada, the role of international director is a two-year term, Snider explains. The country is divided into three sections, west, east, and Ontario with part of Quebec. Every two years, the international representative is elected from one of those three rotating areas, so the candidate does not have to campaign across the country, which would be too expensive.
He’s fortunate that the St. Davids Lions Club is behind him. With 80 members, it’s at the top of the list for membership, and because of the membership, can organize the activities that help the club give back to the community.
The money from the club that is partially funding his campaign is not from fundraising, all of which goes back to the community, he says. It comes from a levy on all members each year to support candidates for positions outside the club.
“I pay for my own gas, food and hotel room. They pay for the conventions,” he says.
Administration funds also help pay for members who want to travel to events outside their club, he adds.
“We’re fortunate to have the money to these activities,” he says, noting it helps that the club has its own building.
Each club in Ontario can send one delegate to vote for every 10 members, which means his club will have eight votes. He’s hoping each of the Niagara clubs sends the maximum number of delegates to vote, he says.
If elected, Snider’s travel expenses will be paid for by the international association, again from funds elected from Lions’ membership dues that goes to administrative costs. Money raised by the international foundation goes to disaster relief around the world, such as to Australia to help those affected by the fires the country is battling.
Snider says he’s always been intrigued by the work of the international association. He’s been retired from General Motors for 10 years, and now, with his wife Susan planning to retire, if he’s elected, she’ll be able to travel with him. With all the other district positions he’s held, he says, “this is the next step.”
Their first trip would be to the international convention in Singapore in June, with a side trip of their own to Thailand, Cambodia and Viet Nam.
Will there be a benefit to his club to have an international director?
He doesn’t have any particular cause he wants to promote — as a board member, he will be making decisions on international issues — but he will be able to promote a greater awareness not only of what his club does for its community, but the community itself.
“It will be an opportunity to promote Niagara-on-the-Lake. When you meet other members, they ask lots of questions. It’s surprising how many people have been here, and they always want to come back. It’s an easy sell,” says Snider.
“I talk about the wineries, the fort, the town’s history, the breweries. When you’re out and about, people don’t necessarily want to talk about Lions, they want to know where you’re from. And it’s so easy to talk about Niagara-on-the-Lake, and tell them they’ve got to come for a visit.”