I recently had the distinct privilege of visiting areas of Texas, USA, that were severely damaged by Hurricane Harvey. As I was preparing for the trip, I knew I wanted to do more than just see Texas. I wanted to do something meaningful. I wanted to serve. More importantly, I wanted to serve alongside my fellow Lions, people who value service just as much as I do.
You see, I’ve been a Lion for nearly 40 years. In that time, I’ve held a lot of offices within the Lions organization, from club president all the way up to international president. But no matter my title, I have always been a Lion. And I am a Lion because I know that community service – whether local, global or both – is my duty. I began this journey because I wanted to help people. The journey continues because being a Lion allows me to fulfill my duty in ways bigger than I ever imagined.
If you have never seen the aftermath of a hurricane, let me paint a picture for you. There are roads entirely submerged underwater, leaving towns accessible only by boat. When the sun sets, there is darkness in places where electricity hasn’t yet been restored. Playgrounds and hospitals, once beacons within their communities, are now barely visible. Water rose 25 feet in some places! What once were lovely homes are now just piles of rubble, and I was overcome thinking of how these people have lost everything they spent their lives building. The quiet can be deafening. But not for long, because the flurry of yellow vests get right to work!
I spent several days with district governors and international directors from the affected districts (A-3, S-1, S-2 and S-4), which stretch a few hundred miles. We toured an area by boat. Then, I donned a pair of combat boots and got my hands dirty. Interestingly, the boots were from a batch donated by the Cinco Ranch Lions Club, which was inaugurated during my year as international president. We quickly got to work unloading trucks full of supplies and stocking a Lions distribution center. I spoke personally with people who lost everything to the hurricane, offering them what comforting words I could find. I met families living in shelters supported by Lions, unsure of what was next for them. It was a powerful reminder of my commitment to serve.
It was a busy few days with plenty of hard work, loading and unloading trucks, organizing aisles of donated items, and distributing those items to the people who need them most. I can’t help but look back on this experience and wonder how those people are faring now. They have so much work ahead of them, but I know that Lions have given them some comfort and some respite. I am so honored to be one of those Lions.
It is often said that Lions’ strength is that they are right there, living in the communities that need them. There are two reasons for this: 1) Lions know exactly what their communities need and 2) Lions remain in the communities, continuing to serve for as long as they are needed. But that also means that Lions are often affected by the very same disasters from which they are providing relief. And yet, there they are, serving their communities and neighboring communities, more worried about other people than themselves. This generosity of heart – this very essence of Lionism – will stay with me forever.
Thank you, Lions, for your unending service to your communities, for always answering the call and serving with a smile. Thank you, also, for your generous support of LCIF, your foundation. Together, we continue to make this world a better place for everyone, one family, one community, at a time.
Chancellor Bob Corlew
Chairman, Lions Clubs International Foundation
Recently, natural disasters have been devastating communities around the world, including hurricanes in the U.S. and the Caribbean, flooding in Japan and South Asia, and earthquakes in Mexico. Not to mention, wildfires continue to ravage multiple states in the western U.S. While Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) has distributed disaster grants to help the affected communities clean up and rebuild, there are also grants that can be utilized to prepare for disasters ahead of time.
For areas that are prone to natural disasters, Disaster Preparedness Grants are especially valuable. Being prepared for a disaster can save lives. Lions around the world have used these grants for disaster training, creating a stock of supplies, and community education. In addition, these grants can provide advance support for first responders, food banks, medical facilities, and shelters.
District governors can apply for Disaster Preparedness Grants for their communities once every three years. Grants awarded are between US$5,000 and US$10,000 and districts must contribute 10% of the funds.
Having an emergency plan and a stock of supplies can make sure that families are fed when flood waters wash away their homes. It can help the community know how to respond in an earthquake to avoid injury. Being prepared for a disaster saves lives.
If you think your community could be better prepared for a disaster, talk to your district governor about a Disaster Preparedness Grant from LCIF!
Some things can’t easily be put into words. But the swelling call of a bugle, the pattering of a snare drum, the trill of a line of marching flute players—music can awaken a feeling of joy and purpose that words cannot match.
Lions Clubs International founder Melvin Jones, from Fort Thomas, Arizona, wrote in 1927 that “music, both vocal and instrumental, have a wonderful effect for good. In it there is harmony; and whether or not we realize it, harmony winds itself into our very souls; and you cannot have discord in souls filled with harmony.”
The earliest All-State Bands were made up of Lions who were eager to make music together, but today they are made up of the best of the best from local schools’ marching bands. When marching musicians are needed for Lions conventions, local parades and even international events, All-State Bands from around the country rise to the occasion. Local clubs support their bands and fund travel for the musicians to attend competitions and conventions around the world.
Young musicians must prove themselves in auditions every year. Success brings the opportunity to travel and make music with the best of the best and to play alongside young musicians they might not otherwise meet. In 2015, the Mississippi Lions All-State Band attended the International Lions Convention in Honolulu, Hawaii, and won the 31st Annual International Lions Parade Championships. The 145 high school musicians in the band survived a tryout with 852 participants.
“It feels amazing to make the Lions Band,” said trombonist and high school senior Trevor Shoup. “I never thought I would make it this far.” He practiced 15 hours a week in advance of the All-State Band auditions, which included two performances in front of a five-judge panel.
Once a musician is chosen, the real work begins: a full week of band camp, with practices and drills running from dawn till long past dusk.
“The practices were very intense,” said trumpeter Jesse Gibens, also a senior. “We got 30-minute breaks every now and then, but we were constantly playing every minute.”
Three students from Mississippi’s Warren Central High School attended the 2015 convention, with financial assistance from the Vicksburg Lions Club of Mississippi. They were given $300 each for travel and food during their weeklong stay in Hawaii.
“Someone has said that music is a means of expressing man’s feeling without words,” said Melvin Jones. “Had there never been human affection, there never would have been uttered a strain of music. Language is not subtle enough, tender enough, to express all that we feel, and when language fails, our highest and noblest longings are translated into music—the sunshine and climate of the soul.”
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!
It is hard to recall a time recently when so many major natural disasters occurred in such a short period of time. Over the past several weeks, natural disasters have struck in several places, with particularly devastating results – flooding in India and Japan, hurricanes in the United States and Caribbean islands, and not one but two earthquakes in Mexico. Most recently, Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) awarded a US$100,000 grant to support relief and reconstruction in Puerto Rico in the wake of another destructive hurricane. Your Foundation has responded with emergency and major catastrophe grants to allow Lions on scene to provide much-needed supplies.
In all cases, LCIF coordinates funding for emergency and major catastrophe grants with local Lions. Lions in the disaster area then work with local government officials and other agencies to ensure the right supplies are getting to areas most in need, without duplication of effort.
Since its founding in 1968, LCIF has awarded more than 13,000 grants totaling over US$1 billion. LCIF will continue to work every day to support humanitarian service projects all over the world and give hope to those who need it. In 2015-2016, LCIF awarded over US$9 million in disaster grants, which helped more than 500,000 people around the world.
LCIF relies on donations from compassionate Lions. These donations provide the vast majority of the revenue received by LCIF, making the Foundation a leading humanitarian organization. Lions know their donations matter and that funds entrusted to LCIF will support initiatives that impact communities and change lives.
Your donation – whatever the amount – allows the Foundation to respond when called upon, and has a direct impact on the lives of millions of people.
Along with your donation, I know you join me in keeping the victims of these most recent natural disasters in your thoughts and prayers.
Together we are making a difference.
Chancellor Bob Corlew
Chairman, Lions Clubs International Foundation
It’s hard for many of us to relate to the fragile situation of famine victims in East Africa. Millions of people in Kenya, South Sudan, Somalia and other countries live with drastic food shortages despite the efforts of Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) and local Lions who continue to provide aid.
Last month, Lions used disaster relief funds from LCIF to provide food to villages in and around Aweil, South Sudan. Many of the families helped are disabled, female or elderly-headed households and people with disabilities.
This famine began six years ago and the number of vulnerable people keeps increasing, so the work of Lions and LCIF continues. Please consider supporting relief efforts in by making a donation LCIF’s disaster fund. Be sure to note “East Africa Famine” to designate your donations for this disaster.
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