O Canada! We Stand on Guard for Thee

With support from Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF), brave and compassionate Lions across the world have banded together to help communities safely navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Southern Ontario, Canada Lions are no exception. True to the lyrics of their country’s national anthem, District A-3 Lions have stood “on guard for thee,” helping protect dedicated frontline medical workers caring tirelessly for patients in 44 Ontario long-term-care facilities.

Women hold trays of snacks
In addition to providing needed PPE, Lions used money from an LCIF grant to ensure medical workers had meals, snacks, and coffee to sustain them through their long work days.

With manufacturers of personal protective equipment (PPE) unable to keep pace with demand, and transport services carrying this precious cargo equally taxed, PPE was in short supply in Ontario. Basic supply and demand economics also meant the little equipment still available had become unusually expensive. Compounding the problem? Staffing shortages found healthcare workers pushed beyond their limits. Those desperately needed to provide skilled care now required relief themselves.

Knowing the challenges, and health and safety concerns, Lions stepped in.

Adopt a Facility
“Being in lockdown was shocking, but Lions rose to the occasion,” said Past District Governor Susan Taylor, in office at the time Lions learned of a nearby nursing home that had experienced a COVID outbreak and, sadly, lost several patients. Lions were determined to help local facilities by sourcing and purchasing PPE and providing meals for staff.

LCIF supported their efforts by awarding a US$10,000 Emergency grant. To begin the project, then-Vice District Governor Don Radnor ignited a 42-club initiative to “adopt” long-term-care facilities. More than 800 Lions joined the effort. Each club paired with one or two local facilities, spending US$227 on each to purchase reusable masks, touchless thermometers, as well as meals, coffee, and ‘grab and go’ snacks for medical staff working long hours. In addition, one Lion’s granddaughter created thank you cards for the workers noting words of encouragement such as “You are a star” and “Thank you for being there.” More than 2,500 frontline medical heroes received support.

Some clubs spent less than the funds allotted for their facility, so a portion of the grant was given to a local hospital’s COVID-19 relief program. The hospital sends staff to local long-term-care facilities to train workers in handling specific situations during a pandemic.

Strength and Hope
Thanks to LCIF and brave and generous Lions, medical workers had protection needed to safely care for patients and gained both physical and mental strength from the meals, snacks, coffee, and encouragement Lions provided.

Having been put to very good use, initial LCIF grant funds are now gone, but the relationships between many clubs and the facilities they adopted are not! Clubs continue to support the healthcare workers, bringing them meals, coffee, and all-important hope. Grateful for the help and support received, many of the facilities sent notes thanking LCIF and Lions for their generosity. “It was also evident in their smiles,” noted Taylor.

“I’m extremely proud of the A-3 Lions,” said Taylor. “Vice district governors at the time Don Radnor and Mark Kelso and I worked tirelessly to ensure the success of this project. Clubs became creative and found it easy to serve the community with masks and social distancing.” The Lions have truly lived the words of their national anthem, standing on guard to help those in times of great need.

LCIF has awarded Lions more than 350 grants totaling more than US$5.2 million for pandemic relief efforts in every constitutional area. Whether providing funding for PPE, food for families out of work, or technology to keep elderly nursing home patients in contact with their families, LCIF is there with Lions across the world.