This isn’t the summer Al Snider was expecting.
With his wife Susan, he was hoping to take his first trip outside the country as the only Canadian director on the 35-member board of Lions around the world. They were looking forward to the Lions Clubs International convention in Singapore in June, with a side trip of their own to Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.
“Everything we had planned came to an end,” says Snider.
“It’s been a disappointment. This year would have been an opportunity to meet other Lions from around the world and that won’t happen as planned.”
There was to be a vote last May at a Lions convention in Ontario to elect him as Canada’s international director, and since he was the only one running, he’d set his sights on representing Lions clubs across the country, which he will.
There was no convention, and no vote, but last week the long-standing St. Davids Lions Club member was “endorsed” as Canada’s international director at a virtual meeting of representatives from 10 districts.
The job, he said last winter when he was in the running for the position, “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.”
But of course the world has changed, and the only meetings at this time are virtual.
He is hoping international borders will open this fall and there will be opportunities to attend some meetings, but he has no interest in travelling to the U.S. any time soon, with its rate of new cases continuing to rise in some states.
His term as international director is for two years, and the next Lions International Convention is scheduled to be held in June 2021. At that time, if it goes ahead, he will be officially elected, he says, and his term begins. Leading up to that, he has a year of training for the position.
Snider’s introduction to Lionism began decades ago when he began helping out in the bingo tent at the annual carnival.
Since he joined the St. Davids club, 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.
Volunteerism runs in his family, with his parents, Mary and George, setting an example for him and his siblings, and it has carried on through the next generation.
Susan, a paramedic about to retire, is also a St. Davids Lions, and Al says whatever comes along for him as a director, they’ll do as a team.
He’s fortunate that the St. Davids Lions Club backed him when he decided to run for the international position, he says. The money from the club that partially funded his campaign, which started more than a year ago, is not from fundraising, all of which goes back to the community. It comes from a levy on all members each year to support candidates for positions outside the club.
Snider’s travel expenses as director will be paid for by the international association, again from funds elected from Lions’ membership dues that go to administrative costs. Money raised by the international foundation goes to disaster relief around the world.
Although the local club’s activities, such as the popular fish fry and the annual carnival have had to be cancelled, the club is still giving back to the community, although it has to be “judicious” in allocating funds with no revenue coming in, and no idea when fundraising activities can begin again, says Snider.
In the meantime, while he would typically be spending this time of year preparing for the carnival, he and other members have been doing some maintenance around the club — projects that needed doing, but were put off because there was never enough taime to do them.
Now, of course, he says, there is nothing but time.