Leos at a measles event in Madagascar
Feb
24

Leo Service Grants Now Available for Application

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Leos, the good news you have been waiting for has arrived; Leo service grants are now available for application! Leos, you can now reach more people and create bigger impact with your own service projects, bettering the communities around you or across the world.

Grants may be awarded through Lions districts or multiple districts, up to US$2,500 for districts or US$5,000 for multiple districts. Grants will fund service projects that have a community-wide impact, and meet an unmet humanitarian need. Priority consideration will be given to projects that align with our global causes; diabetes, environment, hunger, vision, and childhood cancer.

This is your chance to let your community know that Leos are a force for positive change! What are you hoping to accomplish? Is there a river in your neighborhood that needs cleaning? Could your town benefit from a community garden? Has a natural disaster damaged your community center?

To learn more about this exciting new opportunity, click the link below, which will provide you with information and the application, or visit the Leo service grant webpage.

Leo Service Grant Criteria & Application– In English
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Feb
23

Touchstone Story #21–One Vision

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Blinding trachoma, one of humanity’s oldest and most stubborn diseases, is the world’s leading cause of preventable blindness. The disease spreads easily, entering the eye along several common pathways–unwashed hands and faces, close contact between mothers and children and flies feeding on the discharge produced by infection. Untreated, trachoma follows a long and agonizing progression from irritation and swelling of the eyelid, to gradual loss of vision and, eventually, blindness.

Long absent in the developed world, trachoma remains endemic in wide areas of Africa, Asia and Central and South America. An estimated 41 million people are infected with the disease, and nearly 8 million suffer from its late stages or are blind because of it.

In Ethiopia, 75 percent of the population is at risk of infection. In many remote villages, trachoma affects whole families for generations, leaving them trapped in poverty. As First International Vice President Jim Ervin noted on a 1998 fact-finding mission hosted by the Lions of Ethiopia, “I came back and said, ‘God, what can we do? We’ve got to do something.’”

A longtime member of the Albany Lions Club, Ervin turned to another Georgia Lion for help: former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. At the time, The Carter Center in Atlanta had been actively engaged in the fight against trachoma for several years. Ervin asked Carter if he would help secure supplies of a powerful and easily administered antibiotic Zithromax for Lions’ grassroots eradication efforts in Ethiopia.

Proudly wearing their Lions pins, Carter and Ervin were soon sitting down to meet with top international executives at New York-based Pfizer Inc., maker of the drug. They shared the history of Lions’ long involvement in sight-related causes and described the campaign against trachoma in Ethiopia and other African countries. “We need the Zithromax for what we’re trying to do,” Carter said. Heads nodded. And an answer came back at once: Pfizer would donate the sight-saving drug.

Ten years later, on Jan. 23, 2008, Ervin who served as international president from 1999 to 2000, was back in Ethiopia to take part in celebrating a milestone in the fight against trachoma: the administration of the 10 millionth dose of Zithromax in that country. The ceremony included Lions Clubs International Foundation Chairperson Jimmy Ross, representatives of Pfizer and The Carter Center, government officials, health care workers and Lions from Ethiopia. But the most important person there was Messeleche Tilahun, 16, who received the milestone dose. Like millions of Ethiopians, her future was suddenly brighter. And she would see every moment of it.

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!

Feb
21

Touchstone Story #86–Support Behind the Scenes

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Launched in 1990, the SightFirst project was the largest, most ambitious campaign Lions Clubs International had ever undertaken. In partnership with governments and nonprofits around the world, Lions aspired to greatly reduce preventable and reversible blindness. Such a massive undertaking would require the enthusiastic participation of as many Lions and clubs as possible. The association estimated it would need to raise at least $130 million from Lions. Lions Clubs International Foundation issued a challenge to raise the funds by June 1994.

But Lions faced another more subtle but vitally important challenge. How would LCIF handle the accounting side of the campaign and process all these gifts and pledges?

“Lions had never done anything to this scale before,” said Yvonne Novak, LCIF donor services analysis coordinator. “We were building the system to handle pledges at the same time they were coming in.”

LCIF did not have a computer infrastructure ready to track everything for a campaign of this size. Reminders would have to be sent and pledges collected in addition to the initial recording. The process would last for years. In the meantime, every pledge and donation had to have a number, and it all had to be done by hand. LCIF struggled to keep up, overwhelmed with paperwork, especially during the final year of the campaign when the majority of the pledges and donations arrived.

Word went out to the entire Lions headquarters staff asking for help. Lions staffers worked extra hours during the week and on Saturdays and Sundays to make the campaign possible. Additional workers were hired and quickly trained to assist.

By the time the campaign ended in July 1994, Lions exceeded the initial goal, raising more than $146 million to help rid the world of preventable blindness. While the rest of the organization celebrated, the LCIF donor services staff didn’t pause long. They remained hard at work for months making sure every pledge was properly recorded. And during the next several years, the accounting department collected and processed the payments against the pledges.

The results were more than worth the effort. Millions of people worldwide had their sight restored or preserved because of the efforts of Lions—and the behind-the-scenes efforts of LCIF staff.

“We raised a lot of money, proved we could do it, survived it, and helped so many people around the world,” Novak said. “The programs are still going strong.”

“People every year now [are] getting their sight restored because of our SightFirst program through cataract surgery,” said Past International President Austin P. Jennings, who served as president from 1988-89 and served as the International Lead Gifts Coordinator for the campaign.

“It was most encouraging to know what can happen when we all decide that we are going to do [something], do it the right way and do it together,” said Jennings.

When Campaign SightFirst II began 10 years later, LCIF knew the challenges that might arise. This time, the staff was better prepared, and LCIF introduced a brand-new computer system to help handle the even bigger campaign. It was a smart move—Campaign SightFirst II raised more than $200 million.

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!

 

Feb
19

1st OSEAL Leo Forum

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In November, the Leos of Constitutional Area V gathered in Malaysia for the first ever OSEAL Leo Forum. Forum organizer Leo Bernard Cheang shares how connecting Leos from all over OSEAL inspired the event and gave participants a platform to exchange ideas and cultures in service.

 

 

What was great about this event? 

The best part of OSEAL Leo Forum was that it was the first time that Leos from all over OSEAL were brought together. The forum gave OSEAL Leos the platform to explore different cultures, make new friends and discuss innovative ways that we could make an impact in society together despite our distance. We had Leos from Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, and Thailand, connecting and building relationships with one another.

 

 

What inspired you to lead this event? 

The biggest inspiration for hosting the very first OSEAL Leo Forum was our drive to connect the Leos of OSEAL. We felt that by bringing different people from different places, our unique experiences would lead to collective global ideas in servicing our communities. This inspiration was the theme for the forum, “Engage, Enrich and Empower,” and we hoped all Leos that attended left feeling empowered to engage in their communities.

 


What was the most memorable part of the event? 

My favorite event of the forum was definitely on the second night when we held the “Fellowship Dinner”. It was ridiculously fun! We played different games, had amazing performances from different cultures, and held a great dance party to end the night. There were so many smiles, laughs and happy memories from that day. It was truly inspiring to see so many Leos let loose and enjoy themselves on the last night. It showcased that we successfully engaged and connected Leos from all over OSEAL.

 

 

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

 

Feb
14

Touchstone Story #65–Full Moon Baby Day

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More than 500 full moons have risen and set since 1967 when the Galle Lions Club was founded in the old port city on the southwestern tip of Sri Lanka. And over that time, tens of thousands of babies have been born in Galle.

These two cycles of nature may seem unconnected. But for the Galle Lions Club, they are the source of a unique and rich tradition of service.

Every month when there is a full moon, the day is called a poya. These 12 full-moon days of the year have deep significance in Sri Lankan culture. Poya days commemorate key events in the life of the Buddha, including his birth, enlightenment and death. There is also a poya day marking the Buddha’s first visit to the island around 528 B.C.E.

Leap forward 2,500 years to the Lions’ first meeting in Galle in 1967. Barely had the charter been read and the Lions’ flag unfurled when members began asking, “How will we serve?” Lady Lions and members’ spouses had the answer. Celebrate each poya day with gifts to babies born during that particular lunar month.

The women began sewing baby clothes and distributing them at local hospitals to the poor. They collected powdered milk, diapers, and other nursery items for poya day visits with mothers and their newborns.

Today, with men and women now participating as full Lions club members, the project continues to grow—proof that the Lion spirit of service shines everywhere that the moon does.

Explore the exciting history of Lions Clubs International with our exclusive Touchstone Stories series. They’re a great resource for promoting service at your club meetings!

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