2012-2013 Presidential Theme International President Wayne A. Madden In a world of need, there is someone to help. In a world of suffering, there is someone who cares. In a world of destruction, there is someone to provide relief. In a world of illiteracy, there is someone to teach. And in a world of service, there is one name that stands out among others – Lions Clubs International. That’s what we do. That’s what we have always done. It is our motto, and the reason we exist. I grew up in Indiana, in the Midwest region of the United States. It is an area of rivers and streams, of farms and villages, covered bridges and sycamore trees, schools and fine universities, where the fall harvest is still one of the most important events of the year. Most of all it is home to people who still care about their neighbor’s welfare. It’s where I learned the value of giving back to the community. But as we can see all over the world, our communities are facing new challenges ranging from hunger to a growing lack of opportunity, especially for young people. And these needs seem to be getting bigger while resources are dwindling. Certainly our service is needed more than ever. If you’re from Indiana like me – or a dedicated Lion anywhere in the world – I know you wouldn’t stand for it. Lions are simply too big hearted and too compassionate to let problems like illiteracy and empty book shelves exist – not when there is so much we can do about it. So my theme for this year - “In A World of Service” - calls on Lions to not only celebrate our world of service but to expand our impact, rising up to meet new challenges. To do that, we need to grow our membership and build stronger clubs. How? Well, another inspiration from my Indiana roots comes from the world famous Indianapolis 500 auto race. Whether you are a fan of auto racing or not, I think everyone can appreciate the dedication, preparation, and TEAM work involved to enable a car, often exceeding 200 miles per hour, to complete the race incident free and win!! Successful race teams employ a well thought out strategy, and devise a formula for excellence. My winning formula is: Dedication + Preparation + Teamwork = EXCELLENCE. From the club level to the district governor team, the Board and executive officers, we are a team of over 1.35 million, joining together for the purpose of serving others. In order for a team to be effective, each member of the team must work in unison, while fulfilling their individual role. No one team member is more important than the other. It All Starts With Dedication To Service Lions are dedicated to providing service. That renowned dedication will help us in everything we do – including our continued participation in the Global Service Action Campaigns of engaging youth (August), working with the blind and visually impaired (October), feeding the hungry (December and January) and working to improve the environment (April) to protecting 150 million children from measles in our new partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In addition, I am asking Lions to participate in a year-long initiative called the Reading Action Program – a campaign to improve literacy rates and promote reading. Celebrating Our Service – Join the Lions World of Service Photo and Twitter Relay If you tally up the acts of service and kindness by our 1.35 million Lions in 46,000 communities where clubs exist, the impact is enormous. Few organizations could match what we do. But can the world see how we serve day in and day out? Lions Clubs International NEVER sleeps. Like runners in a relay race, Lions Clubs around the world pass the baton of service from one club to another as we circle the globe each and every day. To celebrate our around the clock and around the world dedication, there will be a special section on the LCI web site where Lions can post photos of their service activities. But even as we celebrate our dedicated service, I’m challenging Lions this year to expand our impact, putting special emphasis on illiteracy. Let’s Remember Service Begins With Each of Us Our members and our clubs are the backbone of our organization, and carry on our heritage of service. We don’t just serve, we serve with dedication and passion because we have compassion for others. Lions care about other people. Whenever possible, we lend a hand to those in need – not just through our multitude of service projects, but in our day-to-day activities. WE SERVE because we comprehend that we have a responsibility to be of service to others. Compassion is trying to understand someone else's circumstances along with a willingness to reach out to them. Just feeling sorry is not compassion, and it’s not the Lions’ way. We look at the world from the other person's perspective, rather than our own. Apart from our multitude of projects, it is also important to keep in mind that even small gestures, at the right time, can mean the world to someone. Making yourself available for someone to talk to, being patient, sharing what you've learned from overcoming similar problems, running an errand, or giving someone a ride, are just examples of what you can do. It's not difficult to show compassion. All you have to do is listen to other people and be sensitive to their needs. You can bring a smile to a stranger. Hold a door open. Let someone in front of you when in line. Help carry packages. There is no act too small to be helpful. When we show compassion, we help alleviate someone's suffering. It’s that simple. Remember the more you put in, the more you get back. Expanding Our Impact – Join The Reading Action Program Education is the key to unlocking human potential. The acquisition of skills and knowledge enables people to overcome poverty, disease and other social ills. It empowers communities and gives individuals the confidence needed to shape their own future. The volunteer sector plays an important role in providing education –viewed by many experts – including the United Nations – as one of the root causes of the cycle of poverty. As a former educator, married to a career teacher, I place a high value on education and I consider the ability to read as the foundation to an education. It is a gift Lions can give to children and adults around the world. If you can read this sentence, then you are not only literate, you are considered highly literate. The basic definition of literacy worldwide is the ability to write your name, and read at a 10 year old level. Yet even using that basic definition, nearly one billion people worldwide are illiterate. That’s 26 percent of the world’s adult population, or one out of four people of reading age. But illiteracy isn’t a challenge just for developing regions. Even in the United States where I am from, one in seven persons can barely read a billboard sign or a recipe, which makes them functionally illiterate. Twenty-one million in my own country can’t read at all. To reverse the situation we need to reach more children at risk. According to the Gates Foundation, children develop the skills they need to succeed in school and life, during their first five years. Many children lack basic language and behavioral skills—such as knowing letters and colors, following directions, getting along with others, and exhibiting impulse control. Unfortunately, when children start behind, they often stay behind, leading to an achievement gap in elementary school and beyond. “The more you read, the more things you’ll know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Dr. Seuss, author of children’s books Lions Can Help Through The Reading Action Program (RAP) So Lions, are you ready to expand our impact by jumping on board the Reading Action Program? There are many ways Lions can help in their respective communities. Consider the following: • Developing after school reading programs • Reading to children at local libraries • Contacting your local school and asking how you can help • Donating books and/or computers to your local school or library • Volunteering as tutors through a local school • Working with local literacy experts and agencies • Working to promote braille literacy (See the Reading Action Program guideline for suggestions and ideas) Or, perhaps your club can come up with its own program. However you choose to approach the problem of illiteracy, be pro-active, not reactive. Reading Action Program Awards Each club that documents a reading or other literacy activity through the online service activity reporting system will receive a specially designed “Reading Action Program” club banner patch. Each district governor whose district achieves at least 50% club participation in literacy programs will receive a “Reading Action Program” award to commemorate their success. In addition, artwork will be available on the LCI web site that will enable clubs to download diplomas and bookmarks for clubs to present to students and adults that participate in club sponsored literacy programs. Make A RAP Video And here’s one way to have fun while doing something meaningful. Each club has an opportunity to make a RAP video. If your club sponsors a Leo club, this would be a fun joint venture. The video can be no longer than 2 minutes, and the subject must be about how to get children to read. Videos can be submitted via the Lions Clubs International YouTube channel. The top winning video will be played during one of the plenary sessions at the International Convention in Hamburg, Germany, and the club will receive a special recognition award. The “World of Service” Awards Our world of service is as large as the number of communities we serve. I will be honoring Lions service across a range of service priorities through the World of Service Awards. The World of Service Awards, to be given at the International Convention in Hamburg, Germany, will recognize achievement by clubs and districts in the area of service. Categories include: Best Long-Term Reading Action Program Project (club, district or Leo club) Best Reading Action Program Rap Video (club or Leo club) Best Youth Engagement Project (by club or district) Outstanding Service to the Blind or Visually Impaired (club, district or Leo club) Outstanding Environmental Impact Project (club, district or Leo club) Best Hunger Relief Program or Activity (club, district or Leo club) Lion and Leo of the Year See the World of Service Awards flyer on the LCI web site for more information. Preparation Is A Key Element of Our Formula For Excellence Dedication alone does not equal success. Our clubs and districts must continually be prepared. Preparation means planning, and that requires self evaluation. Did you ever watch an auto race in person or on television, and ask yourself why a car in the lead pulls off the track for no apparent reason? It’s called a “pit stop.” It’s a time to refuel, change tires, and perform quick maintenance to ensure the car can finish the race at a high level of performance. Our clubs and districts around the world maintain a very busy yearly calendar. It’s easy to get caught up in our day-to-day club activities and forget that from time to time, it’s necessary to set aside a day to reflect, review the status of membership plans, and refocus efforts as needed. Building Stronger Clubs, Growing Membership – Join The Pursuit of Excellence As we work toward building stronger clubs, consider whether your club has the right mix of talent represented. Women are the single fastest growing segment of our membership, and an important part of our Lions team. But we still have a long way to go. Our race is far from over. So I will be continuing The Women’s and Family Membership Development Task Force , which was introduced last year, to chart our road ahead in growing women and family membership, and more importantly, to be sure we are engaging them as key team members. To further our ability to strengthen clubs and districts and grow our membership, I am encouraging all clubs and districts to make four “pit-stops” throughout this year – one per quarter. Use this short time to assess and then continually reassess your club’s needs, and your members’ needs. Set goals at the beginning of the year. Maybe you have a new member or members. This would be a great time to make sure they are fully integrated into club activities, and to listen to their concerns and suggestions. Take time each quarter to evaluate your club and district progress. I have developed “pit stop” checklists for clubs and districts, which are available on the LCI web site, and have also been produced in an easy pocket guide design. As the year progresses, determine whether you are on track to meet your goals. Self evaluation is both enlightening and productive as you race toward excellence. I am also challenging all our club officers and district governor teams to focus on achieving The Club Excellence Award and the District Governor Team Excellence Award. Both of these established award programs have criteria that, if followed and achieved, will drive you to achieve success. I found it extremely helpful when I was both a club president and district governor to use excellence awards to point me in the right direction. “Most people have the will to win. Few have the will to prepare to win.” Bobby Knight, retired basketball coach Fast Start Awards A key to finishing strong is to have a strong start whenever possible. The 2012-2013 World of Service Fast Start Awards will recognize district governors who achieve strong membership results in the first four months of their year. The awards will consist of two levels. Qualifications for the awards are: Cruising Speed Level: Two new clubs or positive net growth by October 31 Passing Speed Level: Five new clubs AND positive net growth by October 31 Proud Past Bright Future Calling On All Lions To Be Agents of Change In our pursuit of excellence, I want all Lions to embrace our heritage of service. From our founder Melvin Jones, to Helen Keller’s call to be “Knights of the Blind” service to others has been our foundation. That heritage continues 95 years later and has been paramount in our ability to expand our service to areas such as disaster relief, fighting poverty and hunger, taking care of the environment, and working with the blind and vision impaired, and adopting new challenges like measles and childhood mortality. Service is what we do, and who we are. It defines us as a revered, highly respected institution. We will always be true to our heritage. But embracing our heritage does not mean we should not be open to change. The world is changing. The world is evolving. We must evolve with it if we hope to keep pace and continue to make a difference in the lives of millions of people in need. I challenge clubs this year to seek self improvement and always be receptive to new ways of doing business and new traditions. One excellent way is to go through the Club Excellence Process (CEP) workshop in your district. Club Presidents – I want also to hear from you. A new tradition started last year is the “presidents meet the president” program. I can think of no better way to understand the needs of our clubs – and how they are adapting to a changing world – than by directly communicating to club presidents in person. It’s one tradition that truly works, and I intend to meet with as many club presidents as possible this year. The Future Is Now As we strive for success, remember that our future is NOW. Our next generation of leaders is all around us – in our Leo clubs, high schools and universities, and we need to identify and nuture them. I’m encouraging all clubs to get involved with the youth of your communities – celebrate their achievements. If you don’t currently sponsor a Leo club – make that part of your club’s goals this year. Engage the youth of your community. Invite young people to participate in your service activities, and let them take an active role in the planning process. Promote community service in your local schools. “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” Henry Ford, American Industrialist In A World of Individuals, Lions Know The Value of TEAMwork Finally, we must work as a team. Teamwork encourages creativity, allowing everyone an equal opportunity to contribute. Even in seemingly individual sports like car racing, a driver without a well-organized support crew will never successfully finish the race. Each member of a team has his or her own strengths and when all of these are used together as one, you form an unbeatable entity. A Lions team should be about giving, listening, fellowship and achieving. Poet John Donne wrote "no man is an island" and this is true. We are social beings. We must strive to get along well with other people in order to achieve desired results. So Why Work As a Team? Have you not noticed that it's more fun to work when you're working with others? It alleviates the pressure, and makes work fun and faster to finish. Teamwork also encourages creativity, allowing everyone an equal opportunity to contribute. More importantly, teamwork helps get the job done! But are we doing enough to use the teams we have? Consider doing the following: • Work with the Global Membership and Global Leadership Teams which include members of the District Governor Team • Encourage club officers to work together in pursuit of the Club Excellence Award • Strive to achieve the District Governor Team Excellence Award • Continue reaching out to women and family members In A World of Followers, Lions Lead The Way To grow our organization and to guide our teams forward through this changing world, we need to identify leaders to whom we can pass the baton. The most effective leaders are committed to the process of growth, and, over time, their personal investment in training and development is rewarded. Consider the most successful Indianapolis 500 drivers. They didn’t prepare for victory all at one time – they recognized that preparation is an ongoing process. In addition, they understand that the race always favors the driver who is thoroughly prepared. The better prepared a driver is at the start of the race, the better his or her chances for success at the end, and that a strong daily focus on preparation can make each day a successful part of the overall race. Good leadership is just too important to our future to leave it to chance. Instead, Lions can help the process along by taking advantage of LCI’s many leadership development opportunities. Visit the online Leadership Resource Center. And remember, or Global Leadership Team (GLT) leader is always available to help. Your dedication to leadership development will position our association to continue to provide needed, effective service around the world. Just like the well-prepared Indianapolis 500 driver, your investment in training and development may be rewarded with a visit to the Victory Circle! Teamwork and leadership in LCI are now linked together more than ever with the Global Membership Team (GMT) and Global Leadership Team (GLT) who together provide a structure for ongoing membership growth and development of new leaders. It’s a team that connects the international level, to the constitutional area level, the multiple district level, and to the district level for the benefit and success of the club. Members of the GMT and GLT work together to identify, develop and encourage opportunities for present and future Lions leaders, and to increase membership through service and engagement. Lions Clubs International is made up of many teams – from the club level, to the district and multiple district, all the way up to the Board and executive officers – all working together to enhance our ability to serve others. Tap into other team members’ knowledge and be willing to share your special skills as well. Perhaps there is a member of your club or district team that has a particular interest and knack for computers. What better way to enhance your computer skills!! “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” John F. Kennedy, Former U.S. President Two More Keys to Success In A World of Instant Communication, Lions Are Connecting To Others Nothing is changing faster in our world than our ability to communicate. No club or district can be successful today without effective communication, and effective communication requires preparation. I can think of no other aspect of our lives that has changed more in the past 10 years. Communication in the new millenium is fast paced, and ever changing. We must be agents of change – open to new ideas and open to strategies for connecting to others if we hope to communicate in a changing world. It would be a mistake to assume that only young people are communicating online via emails, Facebook and other social media models. New studies have shown that the age group that spends the most amount of time communicating online is actually 45 to 54 year olds. Electronic communication provides the most effective means to connect with people around the world in real time. Increasingly, Lions members, clubs, districts and multiple districts are online. Our ability to project our image and increase public awareness online is vital. Last year, Lions Clubs International undertook a comprehensive study of the online community – how to engage both an internal and external audience via most frequented social media sites. The study showed that more and more Lions around the world are using social media in their lives to connect with others and also to promote their club’s service work. We have now made tremendous strides forward connecting with our members online, and with potential new members by engaging them in online conversation. This year LCI will continue to expand our methods of connecting to members and the general public as we expand our worldwide impact. LCIF – The “Foundation” of Our World of Service As the official charitable organization of Lions Clubs International, Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) supports Lions’ compassionate works by providing grant funding for their local and global humanitarian service efforts. We’re also working with partner organizations to do even more. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is challenging Lions to mobilize US$10 million to rescue children from measles by donating US$1 for every US$2 raised by Lions – a total matching contribution of US$5 million. This would be the largest single donation in LCIF’s history. In addition to the millions of dollars given annually through grant programs, LCIF actively supports the Lions mission of working with young people around the world. The Lions Quest program is LCIF’s most comprehensive program for youth. Since 1984, more than 12 million youth have been taught positive life skills through this program. Lions Quest unites the home, school and community to cultivate capable and healthy young people from kindergarten through 12th grade, allowing them to grow into successful adults. Thanks to Lions Quest and LCIF, parents around the world can be confident that their children will have the tools needed for success and growth to deal with the complex issues they face every day. Lions – Start Your Engines One of the highlights of the Indianapolis 500 is just prior to the start of the race when the announcer says “drivers, start your engines.” The crowd begins to cheer in anxious anticipation of the start of the race. Like an auto race, it is important we get a good start as we begin our 95th year of service. But it’s also important to remember that our year, and our service to others, is not a one lap race. It will take endurance, stamina and careful planning to succeed. As Lions, we are recognized around the world for service to others. Lions don’t close their eyes to the fact that millions of people can’t read and/or don’t have access to books or other reading material. We live in a world where children go to school hungry, and many don’t go to school at all. We live in a world where disaster strikes at a moments notice. We live in a world where preventable blindness is not being prevented. And we live in a world where over a billion people live in poverty. That’s why it’s crucial that Lions continue to lead the way “in a world of service,” and expand impact. Can we do it? Are we up for the challenge? WE ARE!!! But we will need our entire team of over 46,000 clubs around the world, each team working at a high rate of efficiency, in order to continue to make a real difference in our respective communities. We may come from different backgrounds and different cultures, but we share a common purpose – WE SERVE. That’s what I call TEAMWORK!! And that’s why in a world of service, Lions lead the way.
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