Leos celebrate 30 years of community service

The Leo Club of Grand Cayman celebrates its 30th anniversary next week, making it the oldest continuously active youth service organisation in the islands.

The 24-member club boasts a roster of alumni that reads like a Who’s Who of the Cayman Islands. It has been involved in community projects, fundraising and relationship building since 1975. President Rosa McLean, 28, said they looked forward to doing more in the coming months.

‘More activities for youth are needed,’ she said, ‘especially since we lost so much (to Ivan). We want to get back to our regular calendar: Diabetes Week, a walk-a-thon, we do Teen Jams, and the club always needs to do something different.’

The biggest community project the club undertakes has been ongoing for almost 20 years, when the government gave them responsibility in 1986 for maintaining the West Bay Public Beach.

‘It’s a joint effort. The government provides the rest rooms and the electricity and we maintain the cabanas and the grounds, all the environmental aspects,’ Ms McLean said.

The club also runs the Cayman Islands Miss Teen pageant, entering its 27th year in August in conjunction with corporate sponsor Cable and Wireless.

‘It’s our biggest revenue-generating project with ticket sales, concession stands, sponsorship of trophies and advertising,’ Ms McLean said.

The club is the youth wing of the Lion’s Club, and first met in George Town’s Catholic Church under founding president Donovan McField.

Today, the Cayman Leos are part of an international organisation of 5,600 Leo Clubs in 137 countries with a membership of more than 140,000 people between the ages of 14 and 28.

Caribbean focus

The club meets and manages its activities from the Lion’s Community Centre on Crewe Road and is ‘very much Caribbean focused,’ said past president Rosandi Weatherford, 26.

‘We have links to Trinidad, Jamaica and Grenada,’ she said. ‘A Leo president can travel 15 to 20 times each year, and we attend quarterly conventions both here and in Jamaica.’

Because the club is tightly tied to Lion’s organisations throughout the region, it is able to offer members ample opportunities for ‘interclubbing’ travel throughout the region, Ms McLean said.

Famous Leos include Lee Ramoon, the Director of the government’s Revenue Unit and an internationally recognised football player; Liz Walton, Deputy Chief Immigration Officer; Wesley Howell, Director of Computer Services; Alfonso Wright, a current political candidate and the owner of the Hampstead; Tarron Jackman, a partner at Deloitte; and Ruthlyn Pomares, a doctor with the Health Services Authority.

‘Most charter members are now prominent business people, connected and contributing to the community,’ Ms McLean said.

‘Because we are the oldest club on the island, and most of the people who were members are still here, we have a huge family, with people everywhere,’ she said.

Other projects the Leos have done include AIDS Awareness, Reading Week, a $500 IT scholarship called the National Child of the Year, pot luck dinners, pizza nights, movie nights and even crowning the annual prom king and queen at John Gray High School.

‘We adopted a grandmother at one point, took her meals, did home visits and still buy her groceries,’ said Ms McLean.

Other activities include seawall painting, hosting quarterly birthday parties, bowling, barbeques, camping and karaoke nights.

The most recent activity was a series of public service announcements on Radio Cayman advocating safe driving.

Building membership

Ms McLean said membership levels at the moment were a little low, but would grow.

‘It’s workable,’ she said. ‘The membership used to be a lot bigger, but there has always been a core that is active and has run the (activities).

‘It would be good to have 35 people or 40 people, but not a lot more. The 24 we have now are active and efficient but we are trying to build the organisation. The numbers we have now are not adequate for our plans. With the money we have raised from the public, we need more activities.’

A prospective member must attend six consecutive general meetings, three consecutive committee meetings, one board meeting and two consecutive projects, fundraisers or recreational events. The club meets on the first and third Wednesday of each month at 6.30pm at the Lions Centre.

Anyone interested in joining, she said, ‘should contact the Leos either through email, at [email protected], or telephone me on 916-8292.’

The Leos 30th anniversary dinner will be held at the Grand Old House on Saturday, 23 April at 7pm, and will feature a slide show and a detailed list of the activities and accomplishments of the last three decades.

Ms Mclean welcomed the public to attend, and then to join the group for Sunday services at East End’s High Rock New Testament Church of God at 11am.

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