When devastating floods hit Paraguay in December 2015, more than 130,000 people were displaced. As relief workers and supplies poured in, Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) provided a US$200,000 Major Catastrophe grant.
Part of that grant money is being used to provide mobile classrooms, like those pictured here, to serve the 17,000 students affected by the flood. The Ministry of Education, in partnership with UNICEF and supported by LCIF, will provide 7 of these classrooms. They are made of durable materials and designed to stay 10 degrees cooler than the outside temperature. Each classroom can accommodate 50 students.
You continue to amaze me every day. No matter where I go, I see Lions and Leos embracing our spirit of service. Your dedication to service is admirable and you make me proud to share your stories with Lions and the world.
When you step out into your community, you show the world that “We Serve.” You understand the need to serve locally and globally, and you know that LCIF helps extend your reach. Seeing young Lions in action has shown me that service is not bound by age.
I recently visited three young and very enthusiastic clubs. A Branch Lions Club made up of young businessmen and women in Malaysia has taken on some global environmental projects. The new Campus Lions Club at Texas State University understands and supports LCIF because LCIF has responded to the recent flooding and tornadoes in their area. I visited with Leos in Mumbai who support LCIF because LCIF helped fund a much needed local blood bank.
I love being a Lion, and I love what LCIF does to support what we do as Lions. If I had to sum up LCIF in one word it would be “hope.” Like my song says, “Because we care, we’re always there, LCIF.”
In this spirit of service, I appeal to all Lions. Recently, cities in India and Paraguay have suffered from devastating floods. Multiple District 300 Taiwan is recovering from a tragic earthquake in Tainan. With the generous support of Lions from around the world, LCIF awarded grants for relief efforts in each of these areas. Please consider making a donation to LCIF’s Disaster fund so that our foundation can continue to respond immediately whenever and wherever disaster strikes.
Together in Service,
Chairperson, Lions Clubs International Foundation
Read the rest of the February 2016 LCIF newsletter here
For the past century, Lions around the world have been willing to meet the call to lead their fellow members. Whether at the club level or the board level, Lions international presidents help set a vision of service and do whatever it takes to enable the association to thrive.
Dr. W.P. Woods (pictured above), a physician from Evansville, Indiana, was elected the new association’s first international president in 1917 at the first Lions Clubs International Convention. Lions also elected a first vice president and second vice president, and ever since, the vice president positions have helped prepare future leaders for the responsibilities and rigors of the office.
Serving as the president of the world’s largest service organization is an honor, but it is also a challenge. The international president travels the globe almost the entire year, visiting clubs, attending board meetings, speaking with dignitaries and bringing attention to special projects, among many other activities. “I think I traveled about 330 days,” Past International President Dr. Tae-Sup Lee from South Korea said of his year in office, 2003 to 2004, which focused on building up membership numbers.
Efforts to visit clubs strengthen the bonds of friendship and keep Lions connected. Seeing firsthand the scale of Lions’ programs and their impact on individuals is also life-changing.
“I once used the terminology that we were improving the quality of life for a lot of people,” said Past International President Jim Ervin from Albany, Georgia, who served from 1999 to 2000. “I didn’t really know and understand what that meant until I began to travel and see the real quality of life—that we were making a difference with people.” Ervin, who resided in the same Lions district as former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, was instrumental in connecting Lions with the Carter Center and Pfizer to launch a SightFirst initiative against river blindness.
Lions’ leaders have emerged from every background imaginable. Johnny Balbo from LaGrange, Illinois, who served as international president from 1974 to 1975, was once a professional wrestler known as “The Great Balbo.” João Fernando Sobral, who served from 1976 to 1977, was a university professor from Sao Paulo, Brazil. Brian Stevenson, a judge from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, served as international president from 1987 to 1988, while Sid L. Scruggs III from Vass, North Carolina, a retired military and commercial airline pilot, served from 2010 to 2011.
Most presidents have come from the United States, and many hail from the Midwest where Lions got its start. The town of Wichita, Kansas, holds the distinction of providing three Lions presidents—Charles Hatton (1932-33), Claude De Vorss (1964-65) and Dr. William Wunder (1995-96). But as Lions has expanded globally, so have its leaders. Members from New Zealand to Chile, Italy to Thailand have led Lions Clubs. Four presidents have come from Canada. Brazil, India, France, and Sweden have each had two of their citizens become president.
In many ways, the international president is a service position for life. Past international presidents have a wealth of knowledge and experience to share, and they continue to chair committees, visit clubs and offer guidance long past their official terms. The immediate past president also serves as the chairperson of Lions Clubs International Foundation the year following the presidency.
For all their efforts, past, present and future, Lions have only one thing to say: “Thank you!”
In December, Leos and Lions in Latin America and the Caribbean came together to alleviate hunger on International Leo Day as part of the Relieving the Hunger Centennial Service Challenge. Over 800 clubs and nearly 13,000 Leos from 17 countries participated in the initiative.
“For us, it was an opportunity to work with Lions clubs and our communities in order to achieve a common goal, providing food and nutrition to poor families,” said Leo Sebastian of Chile. Lions and Leos collected food donations from community members and distributed the food to vulnerable families.
Are you interested in building better relationships between Lions and Leos? Consider planning and executing a joint service project. Lions and Leos have a great opportunity to learn from each other, so start building the relationship today and serve together!
The Abington Lions Club in Massachusetts, USA, were hesitant when they first kicked off the Million Penny Project. The goal was to collect 1 million pennies for their community – that’s $10,000 that they planned to donate to the Abington Library for iPads, large print books and new technology for conference rooms.
Watch the video above to learn how Lions and their community rallied around the Million Penny Project, reaching their goal of 1 million pennies within eight months.
Visit the Lions Videos page for more videos of Lions around the world serving people in need. Download videos from the site to share at your next meeting or event, share on social media, and help spread the Lions message!
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