Legacy of Lions activism continuing in Leaside

Raija Rosenthal started with equality fight, now launching new local charter

Raija Rosenthal has accomplished a lot with the Lions Club.

She became a charter president of a club she formed in 1989 in North York. From 1994 to 1995, she was one of two female governors of a Lions district in Canada. And she was there in 1986 when the international body allowed women to become members.

A Lioness for her first 14 years with the club, in a time when women “didn’t have equality,” the Leaside resident said she never aspired to rising in the ranks. She just wanted to be “part of the decision making.”

“All I ever wanted to do was get the right to vote,” she said. “I wanted the opportunity to put my ballot in the box and be part of the decision making.

“I never aspired to go any further to become involved with district affairs or be in the cabinet.”

Now, Rosenthal is continuing her work within the club and has the Lions Club roaring back into Leaside.

Officially named the Leaside Centennial Lions Club, it was given approval by the international body on Feb. 28 to become a charter, after getting together the minimum 20 members and submitting the request in mid-February.

In order to become a charter, the club needed to be sponsored by another existing club. By coincidence, they were sponsored by Forest Hill Lions Club — which had become a charter in 1952 after being sponsored by a now-defunct Leaside Lions Club.

“We have come full circle,” Rosenthal said. “It’s just amazing.”

Leaside Centennial Lions Club will be focusing its efforts on Spinal Cord Injury Ontario, as well as on the Canadian National Institute for the Blind and on local efforts as they arise.

Even before the Leaside Centennial Lions Club came to be, Rosenthal was making strides, working late last year with Toronto Cathay Lions Club to send 3,000 pairs of reading glasses to a Lions charter in Uganda.

While the club has formed, its doors are not closed. Rosenthal said they are still looking for new members.

“We want people who want to serve the community,” she said.

The club meets on the first Tuesday of each month, on the second floor of 93 Laird Dr. Longos supermarket.

The club is also holding a major event June 6 at St. Clement of Ohrid Macedonian Orthodox Church in Thorncliffe Park. Terry Graham, past international director of the Lions Club will be speaking, and MP John Carmichael and Councillor Jon Burnside will be special guests.

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Posted: Mar 13 2015 2:17 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto