#LDUN Spotlight on Leo Katie Jo

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Today’s post features an interview with Leo Katie Jo, president and charter member of the Sundre High Leo Club. Katie Jo will be attending this year’s Lions Day with the United Nations on March 12, 2016, and will participate in a round table discussion on the topic of Gender Equality and Peace.

What do you like about being a Leo?

Being a Leo has enabled me to voice my ideas and opinions, and make a positive change in my community and in my world. The Leo Club Program has helped me develop my public speaking, listening and organizational skills. I have always felt welcomed and valued in the Leo club, which has given me the confidence to make an impact. It has channeled me into a life of service, and played a huge part in helping me to realize my passion in helping others.


Why is gender equality important to you?

Gender equality is important to me because it’s important for the good of today’s society.  Society will not reach its full potential as long as the potential of half of the population is not met. The issues we are facing today will need the benefits of the full population. Women have irreplaceable values that can make society and the world’s economy flourish.


How has your Leo club addressed gender equality issues?

My Leo club has done much to address gender equality issues, and I am so proud of our work. Last year, we created and delivered $4,000 worth of care packages to the Central Alberta Women’s Shelter to make the women and children who utilize the services more comfortable. We also hosted a Compassion Week at our school, raising awareness and showing support to those in our school that may feel marginalized, such as those who identify as LGBTQ. As well, we hosted a Youth Female Empowerment Seminar where young ladies where trained by a martial artist in self defense; a lawyer came in and discussed legal issues around domestic violence; and the Red Cross came in as well to speak about healthy relationships. We also put together a presentation to show to the Grade Nines in our school what domestic violence is, the impact it has, and how to help someone who is experiencing it.


How can young people take action and get involved?

I believe it is extremely important for young people to get involved and take action about issues that they care about. We are lucky in that there are many avenues for youth to take so that they can make a difference. Youth can start by joining service groups like the Leo club, where they feel respected and empowered. I cannot express enough how strongly I feel about how powerful youth can be in creating change. As youth, we are smart, creative, innovative, and full of endless amounts of energy and passion! If you are a young person who is passionate about creating change and helping others, it is important for you to realize your worth and your ability to be impactful. Collaborate with others, be inspired and don’t be discouraged by setbacks!


What are you most looking forward to for Lions Day with the United Nations?

I am beyond excited for my trip to New York to attend LDUN. I am really looking forward to be able to have a conversation with people who are passionate about making a positive change and helping young women and girls everywhere to see their potential. I can’t wait to be inspired by those who have done so much, and to come back to my home town with more ideas about how to help my community and my world. I can’t wait to showcase the amazing work my Leo club has done, as well.

We’ll be on social media sharing amazing conversations with Katie Jo and other Lions and UN representatives at LDUN. Follow @lionsclubs and search for #LDUN on Twitter for live Tweets on March 12!


Expanding a School and Providing Clean Water in Cambodia

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The Lions of District 356-F in Korea have received a Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) Standard grant for US$30,000 to expand a school in Siem Reap Province in Cambodia.

Lions of Korea traveled to Cambodia to build the new classroom building on the school grounds. They also installed a water well which is providing clean water not only to the students but to the entire village. This project is expected to benefit more than 200 students and 500 community members each year.

The District 356-F Lions, together with the local Siem Reap Angkor Wat Lions Club, will provide ongoing support as needed. IMG_9863




Leos in Love

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Leo clubs provide young people with an opportunity to serve their communities and make a positive impact. They also offer a great way to have fun, make new friends and even find LOVE. Many Leos and former Leos meet their spouses through the Leo Club Program. Read more about several couples below.

Leo Ida Forsell & Lion Antti Forsell

Family Forsell

Ida became a Leo in 2003 after participating in Lions Youth Exchange Program. In 2004, Antii Forsell was serving as the president of the Leo Europa Forum (LEF) in Saariselkä Finland. That same year, Ida was selected to attend the event.

“It took us a few years to realize how we felt about each other, but now we have been together since LEF 2006. We got married in 2011, and our son was born 2014. My husband is a Lion now, and I’m about to join his club since my Leo years are almost behind me. Leos have truly been a life changing experience to me (us) in so many ways!”

Leo Vivien Yee & Leo Steven Tiw

Photo of Vivien & Steven

Vivien and Steven met at the District 308 B2 Omega Leo Conference in 2015. Steven is the founding president of the Ipoh Central Omega Leo Club in Malaysia, and Vivien is the current Leo Club President of the Alor Star Leo Club.

“Knowing each other is just lucky, but building the road of love requires faith and commitment. Our love journey is just like how a clap sound works. With a single hand, a clap sound will never be heard, therefore our relationship symbolizes a successful hand clap, which is only possible with the presence of Leo program.”

Leo Tosin Akinwale & Lion Shogo Oloshunde

Wedding photo of Tosin & Shogo

Shogo, who now serves as a Lion, and Tosin met in 2008. Both have served as Leo District President of 404 A1 in Nigeria. The two were married on October 3, 2015. Leo Tosin describes her husband as a very caring and loving person, who will go to any length to put smiles on people’s faces. Lion Shogo describes his wife as the only woman who will truly understand him.

“We met in 2008, and we continue to grow and gather strength.”

Leo Anna Jacobs & Leo Guido Martens

Photo of Anna & Guido at 2013 LCICon

The picture above was taken on the day that Anna (4th from left) and Guido (3rd from left) met in 2013 at LCICon in Hamburg. The two discovered that both would attend Leo Europa Forum (LEF) in Finland later that year. They stayed in contact and were even on the same plane from Amsterdam to Tallinn for the pre-program. Anna and Guido married in November 2015.

Guido has been a Leo for 4 years in Maastricht where he was a member of the team that organized the National Convention of 2014. In 2013, he accepted the 3 year position of the International Liaison Officer (ILO) of the Netherlands. His first international event was the LEF 2012 in Belgium.

Anna has been a Leo in Krefeld since 2006, where she had different board positions. Over the years, she travelled to almost every National Convention, but she never made it to an international event until 2013. Currently she is the ILO of Germany.

“While we are rather different in many things, being a Leo and everything that comes with it unites us as friends and as a couple as well. We are very grateful to have found someone to share our lives and the passion of social service with.”


Touchstone Story: Black Saturday – Bushfires in Australia

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When a series of wildfires raced across Australia’s southern state of Victoria in 2009—destroying homes and even entire rural towns—Lions from near and far swiftly responded with emergency aid.

Bushfires are always a concern during the late summer, but a prolonged drought and oppressive heat had made the countryside unusually vulnerable that year. More than 400 fires struck the area northeast of Melbourne on February 7. The natural disaster, which came to be known as Black Saturday, was the deadliest wildfire in the country’s history. Driven by 60-mile-per-hour winds, flames reached 300 feet into the sky, moving so fast that they caught some people fleeing in their cars. The fires claimed 173 lives and destroyed thousands of homes. The picturesque town of Marysville was razed in 26 minutes, as were two smaller villages.

“Hell in all its fury has visited the good people of Victoria,” Prime Minister Kevin Rudd told reporters, after touring the smoldering region.

As emergency aid began to arrive, Lions from across Australia and around the world took the lead. Australian Lions established a fire disaster relief drop-off center that served as a distribution warehouse from which members made deliveries to the hardest-hit areas.

“Mate, there wasn’t a dry eye in the car,” District Governor David Jones of the Melbourne Lions Club told LION Magazine after he toured the scorched Marysville area with International Vice President Sid L. Scruggs III, who went on to serve as international president from 2011 to 2012.

While Lions Clubs International Foundation immediately provided US$185,959 in grants, Australian Lions clubs went to work raising a much larger total. Australians take pride in their tradition of neighbors helping each other, and the fire sparked a diverse batch of aid efforts.

In the tiny town of Yinnar, Lions collected hay and distributed it to local farmers whose grazing lands had burned, so they could feed their animals. Another club raised money by sponsoring a benefit country music concert.

In Sydney, members of the Hornsby Leo Club staged a fashion show to raise relief funds. Members of the Ballina and East Ballina Lions clubs near Melbourne solicited donations at shopping malls, collecting nearly US$12,000 in their white plastic buckets. And Lions in the town of Trentham made six life-size fiberglass statues of the Australian creatures known as wombats available for sale in benefit fundraisers.

For fire victims, the help was a blessing. “Last week the Lions supplied us with furniture. Today the Lions have brought up a fantastic truckload of goods. When you go from absolutely nothing to within a couple of weeks we’re comfortable, we’re quite overwhelmed by all of that,” said Christine Adam.

It was devastating to lose everything, said Leanne Camilleri, a mother of five from Clonbinane. But in the aftermath of the fire “people started ringing us and said, ‘Well, look, the Lions can help you out,’” she said. “I can’t get over the generosity of people. … I can’t thank them enough.”

View the full collection of Touchstone Stories on Lions100.org!


Lions in Illinois Reduce Risk of Diabetes

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When District 1 J was considering new ways to give back to their suburban Chicago community, Lion Jeri DiPasquale had an idea. At age 13, her son had been diagnosed with juvenile diabetes, so her family knew all too well the needs of the diabetic community.

“As a parent, you always try to keep your child safe,” says DiPasquale. “You tell him not to run into the street and not to touch the hot stove. But a diagnosis of diabetes changes everything. You suddenly hold your child’s life in your hands. If you don’t give him his shot, he’s going to die.”

DiPasquale suggested to her club that they support diabetes prevention. The Lions of District 1 J teamed up with Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare (EMH) to develop a diabetes prevention and lifestyle intervention program by securing a $95,275 Core 4 Diabetes grant from Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF). The project prevents diabetes by providing education and resources to low-income adults at risk of developing the disease.

We never would have gotten through this without the education and support we got from Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare,” says DiPasquale. “Thank you, LCIF, for making sure other families have access to this vital resource.”

Diabetes is a growing epidemic in both the United States and worldwide. Some 29 million American adults have diabetes. That includes an estimated 7 million who do not know that they have the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Another 86 million Americans (more than 33 percent of adults) have prediabetes, which puts them at the highest risk of developing diabetes within the next five years. It is predicted that one in three Americans will have the disease by 2050 if current trends continue.

Now, with the help of local Lions, the new Diabetes Prevention and Lifestyle Intervention Program at EMH identifies underserved, financially strained and high-risk individuals who may have prediabetes. Those who screen positive for prediabetes are offered a free consultation with a diabetes educator at the hospital-based Learning Center. They can choose to enroll in a lifestyle-change program, based on the CDC curriculum designed to prevent or delay progression of Type 2 diabetes.

The program aims to educate participants with the ultimate goal of reducing the prevalence of diabetes. This is an expansive community outreach program that helps individuals identify their risks and develop a plan to minimize them.

Local Lions are integral to the success of the program. There are 64 Lions clubs in District 1 J and more than 2,300 members. The Lions function as community ambassadors by advocating for diabetes prevention. They facilitate informational meetings, help collect health data such as weight and BMI (Body Mass Index) measurements from participants, and host fundraising events.

With the help of Lions and LCIF, the target is for at least 65 percent of participants to lose weight, maintain that weight loss and experience a stabilization of the blood glucose level after completing the program. The Lions of District 1 J are working diligently to improve the health of their community and prove that an ounce of prevention is, indeed, worth a pound of cure.

For information on how your district can apply for a Core 4 Diabetes grant, visit lcif.org.

Above: Lion Jim Worden (left) discusses patient education with Julie Sanfilippo (center), a health coach with the Diabetes Prevention Program, and nurse Linda Voght (right), a certified diabetes educator at Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare in Illinois.

This article originally appeared in the February 2016 issue of “LION Magazine.”


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