THINK AHEAD Clubs can thrive today even in a tough economy but they need to plan ahead for contingencies and adapt to new ideas to stay relevant. Be flexible. SERVICE IDEA INVOLVE CHILDREN Lil’ Lions Bring Smiles When Tiffany Gallegos joined the 33-member Enterprise, California, Lions Club last year, she brought with her more than the usual enthusiasm of a new Lion. She brought a brand-new opportunity for Lions to serve a segment of their community too often overlooked. “I have worked as a nurse for many years, encountering some patients who never saw children. They didn’t even have visitors to come see them. When my own nieces and nephews would come in, they’d get so excited,” Gallegos recalls. She says it wasn’t difficult to find children to participate in what is now known as the Lil’ Lions project. There are nearly 20 regular little volunteers, who visit nursing homes on regularly scheduled visits. “The kids are never timid,” Gallegos points out. “They are so excited and jump right in.” The visits usually last an hour-and-a-half, and visitors include babies, toddlers and pre-teens who are usually accompanied by parents and Lions. The only cost to the club is around $60 for balloons and arts and crafts supplies for four nursing home visitations, says Lion Tyler Spencer. Four other clubs in his district have already expressed interest in joining the Lil’ Lions program. “The idea is to teach children to offer something bigger than themselves,” Gallegos stresses. “As each child embarks on their 12th birthday, we inform them about our Leo club, the Peace Poster contest, student speaker contest, community service, friendship, leadership and the opportunity to make a difference in someone else’s life.” She also involves the kids in other service projects, such as a recent park cleanup. Parents whose children participate notice a difference in their children. One father told Gallegos that his young daughter had grown more interactive and confident with her peers since becoming a Lil’ Lion. Parents, too, become more interested in community service. Three have already joined the Enterprise Lions Club because of the program. “It’s fun stuff. I like spending time with people. I make friends,” Gallegos heard from Alexis Wright, 8. Most of the children—at least those old enough to verbalize—echo the same reaction. “The kids come back to me with a lot of different comments,” Gallegos explains. In addition to kids telling her how much fun they had, she hears another common refrain: “I miss the patients. When can we go back?” SERVICE IDEA INVOLVE CHILDREN
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