Why Did You Become A Lion? Remembering Helps Inspire New Members When Jodi Burmester attended her first Madison Central Lions Club meeting in 1993, she was impressed. She was impressed by the large number of members present, as well as how organized and active they were. She got caught up in the high-energy talk about upcoming fundraisers, elections, projects and the international convention. “All this activity and discussion was very exciting and it was inspiring to see what the group was doing,” she says. But Wisconsinite Burmester really caught Lion fever when she got more engaged. “The club got us all [new members] involved right away. Getting involved in service projects and participating in social events is what hooked me in. But what kept me being a Lion was when they sent me to a Lions leadership institute. I thought, if Lions were going to invest those resources into my development, I wanted to stick around to give back to Lions,” Burmester says. Nineteen years later, when Burmester talks about the Lions she lights up and her genuine enthusiasm comes through clearly. She has recruited several new members, but usually not by asking them to join—instead, she talks about Lions’ service. “People want to be part of a team that does something right. If you can start out with getting people fired up about what we do, they’re more likely to become long-term members.” How does she keep this enthusiasm going? She continues to take part in directly serving those in need. “We all need to get out there and serve. Sometimes members forget why they joined. Getting out there and doing some hands-on service will remind you of your enthusiasm for the Lions when you joined. It really makes a difference,” Burmester says. Tammy Rockenbach, an Oregon- Brooklyn Lion in Wisconsin since 2004 (and Lioness since 1992) agrees. When she joined, she wanted to impact the lives of others in a positive way, and she has kept that feeling alive by staying engaged in service. Because of this, her commitment as a Lion has grown over the years and she believes that when it comes to prospective members, Lions’ service can speak for itself. “New members have to see the service projects. That instills why we do what we do. Take someone along on a cornea transport, to deliver food to someone who is hungry or to build a wheelchair ramp to make someone’s life easier—all of these experiences can build excitement,” says Rockenbach. By staying active with service yourself, that “newlywed” feeling you had when you joined will stick around— and by sharing your passion with others, that just might result in new members. Burmester stresses, “Invite prospective members to a hands-on project, not a meeting. We have to share our story, and people will join because they want to give back.” –Jennifer Gilbert Gebhardt
Published by International Association of Lions Clubs . View All Articles.
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