The Verona Lions – A Short History
In 1949, the Kingston Lions Club asked a group of Verona men to form a Lions Club. “I didn’t have a clue what we were getting into,” said charter member Ben Lappen. “It seemed like a good cause, though.”
The club’s first big project was to team up with the Women’s Institute to buy the Verona School House for $1000.00. It served as a meeting hall for many community organizations, including the Lions Club, until the new Lions Hall was built in 1969. The new hall was the pride of the club. Local trades and craftsmen volunteered their labour for every special detail, but the joy lasted only a few short days. Fire destroyed the original building before it was ever used, and the building we use today was built on the ashes of that first hall. In the mid ‘50’s, the club created the “swimming hole” on Rock Lake and maintained it for over 30 years. In the ‘60’s the club bought the ball park and in 1965 installed its lights and bleachers. In 1974 the club bought eight acres of land on Verona Sand Road and created the Verona Lions Mini Park., which was upgraded and renovated in 2003-4 with the help of local parents and a grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation.
Over the years the club has: donated $30,000 toward the North Frontenac Arena; teamed with Sharbot Lake Lions to buy the arena’s Zamboni; bought the Portland Township Emergency Vehicle; and donated tens of thousands of dollars to local individuals and groups in need.
Since 1951 the club’s chief fundraiser has been the Lions Jamboree, which continues to be a Verona tradition where people still come for the burgers and the fun, the Annual Garlic Festival, the long May weekend Road Toll and the rental of the hall facilities.
At the Charter Banquet in 1949, Verona Lions first President, Lorne Genge said, “I hope it will be said some day that Verona is a better place to live, work and play because of its Lions Club.” Over 60 years later we can proudly say that Lorne’s hope has been fulfilled, and add our own hope that it will continue to be for many years to come.