As the renovated purple barbecue trailer was pulled into view, Taft Lion’s Club President Susan Walker choked back tears, because the immediate meaning to her was beyond measure.
“It means that we can do more for the community,” Walker said.
On Wednesday, the Lions Club received the Santa Maria-style barbecue trailer as a gift from Aera Energy and oilfield services company KSI, one of Aera’s contractors. What once fed oilfield workers will now feed the broader Taft community, and the Lion’s Club members who attended the presentation at Aera’s Midway-Sunset Oil Field’s offices couldn’t be happier.
“Our previous trailer was just in rags,” said Walker, a nearly lifelong resident of Taft and a member of the Lion’s Club for the last eight years. “The bottom was falling out of our old trailer. This opportunity came along and it means the world to us.”
For decades barbecues have been one of the main fundraising tools for the club, which focuses its efforts on a wide range of community projects, including promoting eye health and giving glasses to children in need. Walker said the eye glass program remains one of the most important the group offers.
The Taft Lion’s Club also maintains the Taft Veteran’s Hall, helps with youth programs and has played an active role in providing humanitarian assistance whenever needed, including the 2016 Erskine Fire, which destroyed more than 80 homes in and around Lake Isabella.
The work of the club was recognized by many at Aera and at KSI, which worked together to make the commercial-sized barbecue trailer good as new.
“It brings us great joy to have the opportunity to provide the Lions Club of Taft with this barbecue trailer, and we know that great things will be achieved because of the work of the club,” said Brian Jameson, a process specialist at Midway Sunset and president of an Aera employee group focused on community service in Taft.
Jameson said the project was aligned with Aera’s commitment to helping the community and neighbors.
“We believe that this was an opportunity for our companies to give back not only to Taft, but also help the Lion’s Club thrive and continue its work,” Jameson said.
Aera and KSI worked for several months to renovate the trailer, which features a wood-fired grill, two propane-powered burners and a storage cabinet for their tools. The trailer was repainted purple, the Lion’s Club colors, and given new tires, brakes, lights and a Lion’s Club logo.
“We appreciate Aera, we appreciate KSI and we appreciate everybody,’’ Walker said. “We need this for our community.”