I know Lions around the world join me in expressing sincere condolences to the family of past international president Sten Akestam, who passed away December 18th. I was deeply saddened when I received the news. His loss will be felt for some time to come.
Sten had the unique ability to bring people together for the good of others, and devoted his life to serving the underserved. He believed there were no boundaries between countries and that Lions should extend their hand of service to all in need.
He has been as a mentor to all Lions Clubs International presidents who succeeded him, offering words of encouragement and advice. Through his experience and leadership, he also helped shape the future of our association.
In his countless years of Lionism, he no doubt saw many changes. In fact, Sten believed in change because he knew we could serve more people if we developed new and better ways. But one thing he believed should never change – the Lions’ commitment to service. He inspired devotion of service in every Lion he met. Because of his inspiration and leadership, that legacy of service will continue with new generations of Lions.
PIP Akestam made a positive impact on literally hundreds of thousands of people the world over during his lifetime. He was highly respected and universally beloved for his devotion to humanitarian causes. He truly lived by the Lions motto “We Serve” and always put others before himself.
Please remember his wife Martha and the entire Akestam family in your thoughts and prayers.
Barry J. Palmer
Over the weekend, I visited Lions in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where 1,500 Lions from six districts participated in a Mega Multi-Service Project. What a wonderful event! I got a chance to see all of the service projects in which Sri Lanka Lions are involved, and Anne and I had the honor of distributing many goods to local residents.
We gave out microfinance checks for local women to start their own businesses, distributed dried food supplies to people who have had cataract surgeries, and handed out seedlings for locals to plant trees in their communities. There were also books and school supplies for students, free eyeglasses, diabetic testing units and even new homes for families in need.
All in all, a successful afternoon of service and giving!
It was a grand sendoff in Concord, Calif. on Saturday for Lions René Henderson and Liz Lamach.
The couple will travel to Pasadena for the 125th Annual Tournament of Roses Parade, where they will ride on the Lions Clubs International float. The float design was inspired by a playground built for their son- Matteo’s Dream, a park for children of all abilities. You can read more about it here.
Henderson and Lamach, who thought they were just gathering for a maintenance and cleaning day, worked for six hours alongside fellow Lions from across the region, including District Governor Dennis J. Grotrian.
“We had a great work party at Matteo’s Dream today and I was amazed at the turnout, the work completed and the Lion spirit that prevailed,” said Grotrian.
When it was over, everyone gathered for the surprise celebration and sendoff. Lions hosted a special ceremony to present Henderson and Lamach with jackets signed by the community, which they will wear while riding the float on Jan. 1, along with 30 long stem roses donated by Darling Flowers.
Also in attendance was Christian Campbell, a 17-year-old who uses the park and will be riding the float alongside Henderson and Lamach. California State Assembly Member Susan A. Bonilla is sponsoring his trip to Pasadena in celebration of Matteo’s Dream’s impact on the community.
“It was so powerful,” said Lamach of Saturday’s event where 18 different clubs in the region attended to show their support. “It was an incredible afternoon.”
Henderson and Lamach will join Lions International President Barry J. Palmer in Los Angeles on December 30, when they will join the Lions members in decorating the float.
Lions Clubs International is showing support by hosting our first-ever social media contest on Facebook and Instagram. We’re giving several chances to win an official Matteo’s Dream Rose Parade commemorative pin. You can read more details about the contest and the official rules here.
Additionally, we are asking Lions everywhere to continue sharing the YouTube video in an effort to spread the word about the unique story behind the float design.
The “water towers” of Kenya refer to the mountains and forests that capture rain water and snow, which help provide water to local communities during dry months. However, deforestation in Kenya is causing the rainwater to run off into lowland lakes and streams — just one of the reasons Kenya has become a water-scarce country.
Lions in Kenya have partnered with the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) to help remedy this problem through reforestation. On December 9, Lions, AKDN and members of the community came together to plant trees. More than 7 million seedlings have already been planted in the past five years. The goal is to plant more than 15 million by the end of 2014.
Watch the video above to learn more about the tree planting project in Kenya.
Does your Lions club plant trees in your community? Share your stories and projects in the comments below!
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