As written by Lion Brian Lopes
Lions Clubs International is the world’s largest service club organization. Its 1.4 million members are dedicated to bettering the quality of life for people of exceptionalities, the financially underprivileged, the sick and the senior communities. The motto of Lions Clubs International is “WE SERVE,” and Lions live this motto with enthusiasm.
My wife, Kylie, and I recently had the opportunity to join our local Lions Club here in Stephenville, NL. We heard about all the remarkable things the Lions Club in our community does for those in need, we were interested in getting to know what it was all about. One of the Lions Club International interesting back-stories happened in 1925, when Helen Keller stood in front of a room full of men at the Lions Club International Convention in Cedar Point, Ohio, asking them to “Imagine what it’s like to stumble around in the dark.” In her plea to raise money for the newly formed American Foundation of the Blind, she described her own experience with blindness and petitioned them to join the cause to help more people see the light.
“I appeal to you, Lions — you who have your sight, your hearing, you who are strong and brave and kind — will you not constitute yourselves Knights of the Blind in my crusade against darkness?” (American Foundation of the Blind).
Since then, fighting blindness has been one of the primary focuses of Lions Clubs International, which still sponsors free eye screening programs through mobile clinics, pays for cataract surgeries for the poor and collects eyeglasses for those in need.
Besides blindness, the Lions Clubs also sponsor programs to provide schoolbooks for children, feed the hungry, provide transportation for seniors and raise money for disaster relief, environmental awareness, youth engagement and countless other initiatives. Our club, like all the others, meet regularly within their communities to discuss possible opportunities to give back and there’s a certain level of freedom that allows local groups to make decisions based on what their communities need.
Kylie and I have taken part in several meetings and events put on by our club since joining earlier this year. I really am intrigued by the level of structure, organization, and pride for the community that goes into the coordination of the activities and the standardization of the Clubs administration. This Pride to create and foster a spirit of understanding among the people of our community, promotion of principles of good government and good citizenship are just some of the things that I have seen come from the club and its members. Becoming a Lion has allowed me to take an active interest in the civic, cultural, social, and moral welfare of our community.
Each local Lions Club, in the International Association of Lions Clubs, exists primarily to meet the needs of our own communities, as well as of those around the world. This is done without any form of the personal or financial gain of its members, and why each of us is willing to spend our own money for dues and to contribute our time and labor as Lions.
Just recently our Club hosted the local District Spring Convention, where we were joined by many other Lions from various parts of our district. We had the chance to take part in District Cabinet Meetings, listen to and give our opinion from governance of the association, to where to send assistance to those in need and to recognize the achievements of the many clubs and individual Lions, that have stood out from the pride and showed us what Lionism is all about. We met so many new people, made connections and had great fun.
During our Banquet, we had a guest speaker, an accomplished Lion, Past International Director Yves Leveille. He spoke of many things like the great work of clubs locally, nationally, and internationally, but what stood out to me was his request to continue to grow our clubs, one member, at a time. If we don’t keep growing, changing, and improving as a club, then we fail to assist those who may need a voice when they don’t have one.
The Lions Club is like a family, supporting and encouraging each other, because really……What is a Lion without its Pride?