Witnessing Lions’ Service in Action

Dear Lions,

I recently had the distinct privilege of visiting areas of Texas, USA, that were severely damaged by Hurricane Harvey. As I was preparing for the trip, I knew I wanted to do more than just see Texas. I wanted to do something meaningful. I wanted to serve. More importantly, I wanted to serve alongside my fellow Lions, people who value service just as much as I do.

You see, I’ve been a Lion for nearly 40 years. In that time, I’ve held a lot of offices within the Lions organization, from club president all the way up to international president. But no matter my title, I have always been a Lion. And I am a Lion because I know that community service – whether local, global or both – is my duty. I began this journey because I wanted to help people. The journey continues because being a Lion allows me to fulfill my duty in ways bigger than I ever imagined.

If you have never seen the aftermath of a hurricane, let me paint a picture for you. There are roads entirely submerged underwater, leaving towns accessible only by boat. When the sun sets, there is  darkness in places where electricity hasn’t yet been restored. Playgrounds and hospitals, once beacons within their communities, are now barely visible. Water rose 25 feet in some places! What once were lovely homes are now just piles of rubble, and I was overcome thinking of how these people have lost everything they spent their lives building. The quiet can be deafening. But not for long, because the flurry of yellow vests get right to work!

I spent several days with district governors and international directors from the affected districts (A-3, S-1, S-2 and S-4), which stretch a few hundred miles. We toured an area by boat. Then, I donned a pair of combat boots and got my hands dirty. Interestingly, the boots were from a batch donated by the Cinco Ranch Lions Club, which was inaugurated during my year as international president. We quickly got to work unloading trucks full of supplies and stocking a Lions distribution center. I spoke personally with people who lost everything to the hurricane, offering them what comforting words I could find. I met families living in shelters supported by Lions, unsure of what was next for them.  It was a powerful reminder of my commitment to serve.

It was a busy few days with plenty of hard work, loading and unloading trucks, organizing aisles of donated items, and distributing those items to the people who need them most. I can’t help but look back on this experience and wonder how those people are faring now. They have so much work ahead of them, but I know that Lions have given them some comfort and some respite. I am so honored to be one of those Lions.

It is often said that Lions’ strength is that they are right there, living in the communities that need them. There are two reasons for this: 1) Lions know exactly what their communities need and 2) Lions remain in the communities, continuing to serve for as long as they are needed. But that also means that Lions are often affected by the very same disasters from which they are providing relief. And yet, there they are, serving their communities and neighboring communities, more worried about other people than themselves. This generosity of heart – this very essence of Lionism – will stay with me forever.

Thank you, Lions, for your unending service to your communities, for always answering the call and serving with a smile. Thank you, also, for your generous support of LCIF, your foundation. Together, we continue to make this world a better place for everyone, one family, one community, at a time.

Sincerely,

Chancellor Bob Corlew
Chairman, Lions Clubs International Foundation

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