A former president of the Sarnia Kinsmen has cut ties with the service club and is planning to launch a new organization called the Bluewater Kin Club.
“The biggest thing was personalities, and not willing to accept change or ideas,” Randy Samms said of the break.
The Sarnia Kinsmen is an all-Canadian service club that has operated in the area the past 86 years and is best known for organizing Sarnia Ribfest and the Santa Claus Parade.
Samms, who served as president in 2013 and 2014, said the club voting 60% in favour of accepting women but some of the membership has been slow to accept them.
“There’s still some members that don’t recognize or don’t appreciate having women in. They haven’t changed the name to allow the female members to feel a part of it,” he said.
Another issue is new fundraising projects that were ignored, Samms said, which resulted in a loss of members.
But the final straw was a legal issue involving the president, he added. Despite being required under the rules of Kin Canada to step down, the president refused, Samms said.
Samms said when he called the president on it he was issued a letter stating he was no longer a member of the club.
Bob Marks, a director with the Sarnia Kinsmen Club, agreed there was some initial reluctance about female members but that everyone is now fully accepting of their membership.
He said the club values new ideas, and if a fundraising project is financially feasible the members embraces it.
“We entertain anybody’s ideas, and that’s the idea of the club,” he said.
As for the issue with the president, Marks agreed Samms had a different interpretation of the bylaws, and the club dealt with the matter to the satisfaction of it membership.
“It’s just that he had an opinion that differed from everyone else. It’s simply that,” Marks said.
Samms said he isn’t bitter but believes it’s time for an all-new Kin Club with fresh ideas serving the Sarnia area. He’s received expressions of interest from seven individuals and needs 15 to 20 get it off the ground, along with the sponsorship of another club.
A member of Kin for 27 years, Samms moved to Sarnia with his wife four years ago. Before that he was active in expanding and governing Ontario chapters in Timmins, Kirkland Lake, Mississauga and North Bay.
The new club could even work together with the Kinsmen on future projects, Samms said.
“Let’s have some fun with it. Let’s get some things done in the community, but have fun doing it,” he said. “What we can do for the city is absolutely endless.”
For more on Samms’ proposal visit www.bluewaterkin.com
As for a breakaway club starting up in Sarnia, Marks said fellowship is a hallmark of the organization. The Kinsmen frequently socialize and collaborate with fellow clubs in Wallaceburg, Blenheim and Chatham, he said.
“We have a very close relationship with each other, and our goals are all the same — serving the community’s greatest needs.”