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Joe - Lion Volunteer

52 years of being a Lion Volunteer (Joe Huevel)

Joseph (Joe) Van Den Heuvel’s Lions story as a Lion Volunteer (as described by Joe) and a little history of the Lions Club of Richmond Inc. In 1969/1970, 6 men (all originally immigrants from Holland), were asked to join the Lions Club of Richmond Inc. One of these was Joe Van Den Heuvel. 

The Club was struggling for new members at the time, but the 6 new members raised the member numbers to 21.

The new members did not know anything about ‘Lionism’ but were keen to learn and to participate.

The old members were mostly business people. Men wore black suits and ties to the meetings.

The new members discovered there was a President, 1st, 2nd and 3rd Vice Presidents, Secretary, Treasurer, and floor members.

The Club met at a hotel every month on Monday nights.

The first meeting was a business meeting. This meeting commenced with the Song of Australia and God Save The Queen.

The second meeting in the month included partners.

The third meeting was a Board meeting at the Presidents home.

At Business meetings, there was discussion regarding what could be done in the local council area of West Torrens, (one member was a Councillor for the Council) so the Club got on well with the Mayor and Council officers. The Club did small jobs around the West Torrens Council area, mostly gardening etc for the elderly.

Then the Club started a different form of activity.

We started doing garage sales from members’ homes and started to make some money. Then Xmas cake sales started as well. We went door-to-door with a sleigh, with cakes also being sold at the Council and a local chemist and a bank. A friend worked at a factory and sold a lot of cakes. My brother Henk became President in 1974/1975 and I became President in 1977/1978 and again in 1980/1981. The Club continued to develop and look to new initiatives. We were able to get some money from the Government to help the West Torrens Council to build the Steve Hamra Retirement Village. The Club put in floor coverings and electrical fittings.

We lost a few members and the Club fell to only 13 members. At one point in time many of the original Dutch group left to live at Willunga. However, the Club did attract some new members.

Lion Frank Norton talked the Council into building a double garage on Streeters Road for the Club. We did garage sales from there. We won a car lottery and sold it for $25,000 and bought a van. The Club also used my ute as well. We started picking up paper and bottles from hotels and hospitals.

Joe was Shed Manager and Treasurer during this time. The Club gave many small donations but were also able to buy a bus for the West Torrens Council for use as a community bus.

In January 2002, an arsonist burnt the shed used for garage sales. A major shock to the Club. The Council let the Club store items in the Former Camden Park primary School Gymnasium, while they looked for a new site for a shed.

After a month, I talked the Council into letting the Club do some garage sales while the Council continued to look for another site.

The Council gave permission for garage sales. The Club received a lot of help from several people. They helped set up tables and sort goods so as to be ready for a sale.

We started to collect donated furniture from the local area. We also started to collect papers and bottles and cans from the State Administration Centre.

I was still Shed Manager and so Dean Backhouse (who was a bank manager) took over the role of Treasurer.

We started to get volunteers helping us. We could not have achieved the sales without their help. Membership grew to about 16 at this time.

With the success of the sales we were able to make lots of small donations. Western Youth Centre and Children’s hospital, Foodbank, long Street Church Hall, West Torrens Council bus etc.

I also did some work at the Hearing Dogs Centre.

The President and Secretary of the Richmond Lions Club believe that Joe has been very modest in his story.

He has been awarded a Melvin Jones Fellowship and many other awards. He refuses to accept any awards for his past and current commitment.

Joe continues to be one of the most active members of the Club, providing service for over 60 hours a month, undertaking a variety of activities including driving one of the Clubs two vans.