Jennifer Gilbert Gebhardt 2013-04-09 07:17:21
Break the Mold Creativity Will Help Clubs Grow When Haddonfield Lions Karen Ressler and her daughter Kendyl donned new, sunny, yellow T-shirts with “ASK ME ABOUT THE LIONS” printed on them front and center for their New Jersey community’s 4th of July parade, they were just following through on a new idea of their club’s membership chair, Shen Shellenberger. Ressler was pleasantly taken aback by the reaction. “We had just started walking to the parade when a lady appeared and asked, ‘How do I join?’ She had been thinking on and off about joining, but the T-shirt reminded her and she felt comfortable approaching me,” says Ressler. Creative ideas are all around, and they can be as simple as wearing a T-shirt. Lions are having success, and having fun, testing out new ways of building recognition and attracting new members with out-of-the-box approaches. Here are a few more inventive ventures to help get the creative juices flowing. Quick Courtship The Missoula South Side Lions in Montana were intrigued when they were invited to participate in a “speed dating” event for area volunteer organizations. Speed dating was originally developed for singles to meet a larger number of potential mates in a short amount of time, but the concept took on a slightly different meaning in this case. Community organizations set up tables, and attendees were invited to visit each one for five minutes. A bell ringing indicated it was time to rotate. Judy Lehman thought it was a fun and relaxed way to introduce Lions to a wider audience. “It can be hard to get the word out about Lions clubs because we work behind the scenes. This was a chance to show what we do out and get our message out,” says Lehman. Fertile Ground The Brookfield Lions developed a community garden to provide a meaningful service that also built community (Sept. 2009 LION). It took a lot of hands-on work, both in the dirt and out, but five years later the Brookfield Lions Community Garden is going strong. With 75 plots on a lovely historic Connecticut former farm, project chair Lion Lyn Lyon says the outcome of the Lions’ hard work couldn’t be better. “The best thing is the real sense of community. Everyone helps each other when they can, and they share items they have an abundance of with others and the town food bank. Some good friendships have developed through working side-byside,” Lyon says. New members have stemmed from those friendships: almost a dozen have joined after getting to know the Lions through the garden. That makes dealing with that pesky woodchuck caught munching on vegetables (and humanely removed) well worth it. What a Bargain The 4th of July parade was coming up, and the South Elgin Lions in Illinois wanted to catch the attention of the many spectators. So they passed out coupons to play Bingo, rent the Lions’ clubhouse or receive a free beverage upon attending a meeting. The Lions enjoyed interacting with community members while passing out the flyers and received great feedback. “We’ve continued to use the coupons at other community events, and we’ve gained two members so far,” says Linda Scham. What’s the next resourceful endeavor for the South Elgin Lions? They’re going to bus tables at a restaurant to raise awareness—and some money—for their growing club.
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