New Possibilities for a Better Future

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Brainer Parejo Benitas faces many issues every day in his home of Barranquilla, Colombia that a nine-year-old should not have to confront. However, drugs, gangs and other societal problems are a reality in his community. Along with many other children in Columbia and countless places worldwide, Benitas is at risk of making destructive decisions, without the hope or tools for an alternative path.

Discovering the alternatives—before it’s too late

Benitas has been given the chance to make positive choices as he grows up, thanks to the Lions Quest program at his school. As Lions Clubs International Foundation’s positive youth development program for students from kindergarten through grade 12, Lions Quest helps foster important life skills, healthy attitudes, strong character, positive relationships and active citizenship.

“I have learned many things in Leones Educando (Lions Quest). I have learned that drugs are very bad for the body, for the brain and for breathing. The program has changed my life. I now know how to work in groups and how to share things,” Benitas said proudly.

A community sees the change

Because it is such an effective program at addressing issues of today’s youth, Lions Quest creates visible results—sometimes quite quickly. “In one year of working with this program, I have seen changes. At the end of the school year, I have noticed that my students are a lot more receptive, cooperative and they are able to use skills in their own lives,” explained 5th grade teacher Lus Angelica.

Benitas’s mother, Evellis Benitas, has also recognized the value of Lions Quest for her son, community and family. “Lions Quest has taught Brainer how to fight problems in our community. We’ve learned so much as a family too. We’ve learned to share more and get along better in the family and to be better parents. The program is very good.”

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Arizona Communities United Amidst Tragedy

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az_fire2Towards the end of last June, a devastating wildfire swept through Yarnell, a wooded community in Arizona, USA. Nineteen young firefighters lost their lives, and 115 homes were destroyed. “Although few of us directly knew one of the firefighters or Yarnell residents, all of us in Lions clubs in the Prescott area [40 miles away] felt a great loss and really came together quickly to help,” says Kenneth Gantz of the Prescott Noon Lions Club.

az_fireThe Prescott Noon Lions established six food collection drop-off sites to support those who had been affected by the disaster. Also pitching in were the Prescott Sunrise and Evening and Chino Valley Noon Lions clubs and the Prescott Noon Lionesses as well as community volunteers.

In one day, more than 30,000 pounds of food was collected along with $4,500 in cash donations. The Yavapai Food Bank received 15 tons of food from Lions. “I was overwhelmed at the amount of food that came in,” says Ann Wilson, the food bank’s director. “It’s great to live in an area where people care about each other with such a demonstration of love.”

az_fire3Lions also sold T-shirts, raising an additional several thousand dollars for Yarnell’s recovery, and two Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) Emergency grants of $10,000 provided for medications, clothing, food and blankets for Yarnell residents.

Gantz says, “Whenever we hold events like this quite often we get people asking about our club. Case in point: myself.” He transferred to the Prescott Noon Lions Club after visiting with Lion Paul Chastain at the club’s cotton candy booth during Prescott’s Frontier Days celebration. Lions are also well known in Prescott and beyond for their successful newspaper recycling business begun in the 1970s.

This story originally appeared in the January 2014 edition of LION Magazine.

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Lions Clubs International

Scrap Metal Collection Exceeds Expectations

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Today’s featured photos are from the members of the Vinton Lions Club in Iowa, USA, who were thrilled with the success of their recent scrap metal collection project. The community came together and helped Lions collect enough scrap metal to fill two semitrailers!

Funds received after sending the metal to a local commercial crusher goes directly back to the community through Lions service projects. The collection is also a great way to clean up the environment and recycle.

Do you have a Lions success story to share? Tell us about your project in the comments section, or submit a photo on the LCI website!

Lions Clubs International

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Lions Clubs International

#ReadingActionProgram: Distributing Books

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The Reading Action Program began in 2012  and became a 10-year commitment to increasing literacy rates around the world. Lions everywhere participate by donating books to local schools and libraries, reading to children, starting programs that encourage parents to read with their kids, and more. Thank you to Past District Governor Beverly Nichols of District 17-O in Kansas, USA, for sharing the information for today’s post on her district’s Reading Action Program book distribution efforts and results!

When Lions Clubs International announced the partnership with Scholastic, Inc. at the USA/Canada Lions Leadership Forum in Kansas last year, the Lions of District 17-O in northeast Kansas were delighted to be the recipients of a US$5,000 seed grant from LCIF for a Reading Action Program initiative in their district. The money was to go toward high quality books purchased at a reduced price from Scholastic.

In addition to providing books for children, the district’s Reading Action Program would help determine what kind of distribution process would be most effective.

Getting Started

Lions identified several venues for distributing books:

  • Schools (including preschool programs within the schools)
  • Libraries (and children who attended story hour)
  • Head Start programs
  • Vision screening events

When selecting sites, the Lions looked for areas with high incidence of low income and a nearby Lions club that would support efforts, both through contributing additional funds and by providing a Lions’ presence at distribution events. Schools selected represented rural, urban and suburban locations.

The original grant of $5,000 was increased by almost 50% through contributions from local Lions Clubs, through district fund raisers, and from the Kansas Host Committee of the USA/Canada Lions Leadership Forum. With these funds, a total of 3,779 books were purchased and distributed.

Identifying Goals

Determining the most effective distribution process raised the question of just what is meant by “effective.” Is it providing the greatest impact on a single child? Or is it providing books to as many individual children as possible? Is it creating as much publicity as possible for the work of Lions in a given community?

All of these are worthwhile goals. However, nothing can match the excitement that is generated when a child is able to pick a book for his or her very own. Ultimately, it makes no difference if it is one book or several, in a school setting or after a vision screening.

The Results

The greatest impact on a single child occurred in a small school setting. The same dollar amount, when allocated to a small school and a larger one, means that children in the smaller school may receive multiple books rather than just one book per child. In smaller communities, local newspapers are likely to run stories and pictures about the event, and word of mouth is very effective in small towns.

The best venue for reaching the maximum number of children while building community recognition probably came in conjunction with vision screening. Each child gets a single book, but there may be more than one book given to a single household. Single copies of bargain books can be purchased from Scholastic at just a dollar each. This enables the purchase of many more books than books purchased in a collection. Collections provide a variety of books and are preferred by school personnel, as books can be selected to fit reading levels of students within a given class.

No matter which venue was used during book distributions in northeast Kansas, students receiving the books were excited to receive them. Lions involved in the process took great delight in seeing the reaction of students on the receiving end.

Learn more about the Reading Action Program. How does your club address literacy in your community?

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Lions Clubs International

Read the June LION Magazine

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In the June LION, find out why campers love the Louisiana Lions Camp so much, learn about some super service projects and meet the 2014 Peace Poster contest winner.

Also in this issue:

  • A son shares how being a Lion enriched his father’s life.
  • Lions around the world took part in the World Lunch Relay in April.
  • The LION’s managing editor ponders what it really means to be a Lion.
  • A Maryland club honors the author of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

In the Digital LION, watch a video about how a vision screening was a life-saver for a young girl, enjoy a club’s fun video celebrating its 50th anniversary and access several stories from the LION Vault about Lions’ super service decades ago.

Visit the LION Magazine page to contact editors, view past issues and listen to the audio version of the magazine.

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