Celebrating 60 Years of Leos: From Club President to Elected Official

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December 5th is the 60th Anniversary of the Leo Club Program. To celebrate 60 years of Leo history, we will feature stories from former Leos around the world on what being a Leo has meant to them. Our second feature comes from Past District Governor Patrick Ene-Okon, who used the experiences and skills he learned as a Leo club president to become a successful elected member in the Nigerian House of Representatives.

While Past District Governor Patrick Ene-Okon has made a career as an elected official and respected academic, he credits his time as the Calabar Leo Club President as the basis for his leadership success. As Leo club president, he developed skills in budgeting, community needs assessment, and report building, which he found easily transferrable when he was elected to the Nigerian Fourth Republic House of Representatives. Of the most important lessons learned as club president, he notes, “the Robert’s Rules of Order (a widely used set of parliamentary procedures) that were used during Leo club meetings were remarkably used in the House of Representatives. When I was elected into my state legislature, I had more experience than any of my fellow newly-elected lawmakers, something I wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t been a Leo.”

PDG Ene-Okon now works as a professor at the University of Calabar, teaching journalism, public relations, advertising and organizational communications. When asked what advice he would give Leos today, he says, “Be passionate in serving youth, and take every advantage of the leadership development opportunities in the program. It may be very handy in the future. ”


For more information on becoming a Leo or to sponsor a Leo Club, visit our website at


Celebrating 60 Years of Leos: A Leo Family

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December 5th is the 60th Anniversary of the Leo Club Program. To celebrate 60 years of Leo history, we will feature stories from former Leos around the world on what being a Leo has meant to them. Our first feature comes from Past International Director Roberto Fresia who, inspired by his father, became a Leo in his home country of Italy. Today, he reflects on how being a Leo helped him find success and on his proudest moments watching his three daughters serve as Leos.

Past International Director Roberto Fresia knows that being a Leo is a family affair. As the son and husband of Lions and father to two Leos and a Lion, the Fresia family has spent a collective 50 years serving their community through the organization. When reflecting back on what inspired him to join Leos, he points to his father’s passing as a major catalyst. “My father encouraged me to become a Leo, and after his passing I hoped to honor my father’s legacy as a Leo.” He became a member of the Savona Leo Club in 1972, later chartering his own club as a founding member of the Varazze Leo Club in 1975. Even after becoming a Lion, he continued to encourage and support youth, developing the official “Italian Leo” magazine for Multiple District 108 and serving as a Youth Exchange Chairperson and Leo Chairperson for over a decade.

When asked what advice he has for today’s Leos, PID Fresia points to the importance of engaging as Leo club members. “Being a Leo teaches you to be a leader in life through experiences in managing groups, coordinating activities, and making big decisions. Being a Leo was the base of success of my life without my father, and I encourage all young people to find success by becoming a Leo.” Though he assumed international leadership as a member of the board from 2013 – 2015, he says that his greatest achievement is knowing his daughters are continuing their family’s legacy as Leos. “My proudest moments are seeing my daughters serve as leaders for Leos. My daughter Eleonora was recently chosen to be a Leo representative at District Governor-Elect School and Lions Day at the UN in Geneva, and my daughter Emilia was elected this year as president of Leo District 108. In Emilia’s acceptance speech, she began by thanking my wife, Raffaella, and I for having ‘obliged’ her to become a Leo. With a big smile, she proclaimed it had proven to be one of the best decisions in her life.”


For more information on becoming a Leo or to sponsor a Leo Club, visit our website at


Touchstone Story #20–Vision Screening

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Lions clubs’ local efforts can change lives

Vision screening has been a part of Lions Clubs International’s mission since its founding and continues today. In 1962, the Lowell Lions Club in Massachusetts staffed concession booths at a fashion show to raise money to screen young children for amblyopia, also known as lazy eye. A condition that is easy to miss, it can lead to loss of vision over time. But if it’s caught at an early age, the chances of successful treatment greatly increase. The Lowell Lions Club raised more than $1,500 during the two-day event.

Decades later, vision screening continues to save children’s eyesight—and sometimes it saves lives. In 2013, kindergartener Brianna Leitten took part in a vision screening organized by the Bloomfield Lions Club in Bloomfield, New York.

After initial screening, Brianna was recommended for further testing. Though her parents hadn’t noticed anything wrong with her vision, Brianna’s eyesight was starting to get blurry by the time of her doctor’s appointment three weeks later. The doctor discovered that Brianna’s retina was completely detached in one eye due to a tumor. It was not known at the time whether the tumor was cancerous, Doctors suggested immediate surgery. But to remove the tumor would require removing the eye.

“It’s a difficult decision to make as a parent,” said Brianna’s father, Gerry. “Understanding you may be making the wrong decision if it’s not cancer.”

Brianna’s parents decided to go ahead with the surgery, and further tests revealed that they made the right decision. The tumor was cancerous, but it was removed before the cancer spread to other parts of Brianna’s body.

The Lions club continued to support the Leitten family throughout the procedure and Brianna’s recovery and helped pay for a prosthetic eye for the courageous and resilient kindergartener.

“Her biggest concern was to get back to school to learn her kindergarten song for graduation,” said Brianna’s mother, Dorie.

The Leittens, in turn, became avid supporters of Lions Clubs International and vision screening efforts for other children. In 2015, Brianna and her parents attended the annual Lions Day at the United Nations in New York and the Lions Clubs International Convention in Hawaii, telling their story and hoping to inspire more Lions clubs to conduct vision screenings.

Vision screening is a simple, fast procedure that can make a big difference in children’s lives. Lions Clubs International’s KidSight program screens more than 500,000 children each year in the United States, and vision screening is a long-standing Lions tradition that saves sight and saves lives.

Explore the exciting history of Lions Clubs International with our exclusive Touchstone Stories series. Don’t forget to share these stories with new members so they gain an understanding of Lions history!


LCIF Awards Disaster Grants, October 2017

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Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) offers a variety of funding options to support various stages for disaster relief operations, including Disaster Preparedness, Emergency, Community Recovery and Major Catastrophe Grants.

For districts impacted by a natural disaster including tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, and tsunamis, Emergency Grants provide up to US$10,000. Lions district governors may apply for disaster relief funds to help meet immediate needs such as food, water, clothing and medical supplies. LCIF typically awards more than US$2 million in Emergency Grant funding each year. Community Recovery Grants aid districts interested in supporting short-term cleanup and repair efforts in situations where other organizations have already addressed immediate needs. Lions district governors may submit proposals for community recovery grants.

In October 2017, LCIF awarded 14 Emergency Grants, 1 Disaster Preparedness Grant, and 1 Community Recovery Grant totaling US$147,750. These grants are addressing immediate needs in:

Louisiana, USA, District 8-S
US$10,000 for disaster preparedness

Guadeloupe, District 63
US$10,000 for hurricane relief

Somalia, District 411-A
US$9,000 for flood relief

Nicaragua, District D-5
US$10,000 for hurricane relief

Paraguay, District M-1
US$5,000 for windstorm relief

California, USA, District 4-C2
US$10,000 for wildfire relief

Indonesia, District 307-B2
US$10,000 for volcano relief

Mexico, District B-7
US$10,000 for flood relief

Republic of South Africa, District 410-B
US$10,000 for tornado relief

Turkey, District 118-R
US$3,750 for community recovery

MD300 Taiwan, District 3oo-F
US$10,000 for typhoon relief

Portugal, District 115-CS
US$10,000 for wildfire relief

Guatemala, District D-3
US$10,000 for flood relief

Uganda, District 411-B
US$10,000 for flood relief

Thailand, District 310-A2
US$10,000 for flood relief

Thailand, District 310-E
US$10,000 for flood relief


Please consider making a donation to LCIF’s disaster fund today.

Donate to LCIF


Leo Latin America Forum: Bolivia 2017

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In August, Leos from Latin America gathered in Bolivia at the 37th Leo Latin America Forum.  Forum organizer Leo Janeth Pedriel shares her thoughts on what made this event so special.


What was great about this event?

Something great for us was the large participation of Bolivia. It made us feel very happy to see our goal fulfilled, which was to motivate Leos and Lions to participate as much as possible in our great event for Leos of Latin America and the Caribbean.


What inspired you to lead this event?

We were inspired by service. First, to carry out an activity together and have the whole district work together along with other Leo and Lions districts to provide a great ELAC for all the Leos of Latin America and the Caribbean. And at the same time, to raise awareness of Bolivian Leos and bring this great event back to Bolivia after 10 years.


What was the most memorable part of the event?

The most memorable part for us was our service activity and leadership training workshops. With our service activity, we spent the day at a senior center and were able to help many elders to brighten their day with our presence and bring them things they need. With our leadership workshops, we were able to learn more and motivated each other to continue with our leadership development.


Don’t miss out on upcoming international Leo events! For a list of events near you, check out the Leo events webpage.



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