Generation Next Lions Young Adults Bring Clubs a Bright Future Eslpeth Cheung, an inquisitive 21-year-old college student in Manchester, New Hampshire, had to get to the bottom of a lingering question: just what were those signs with the big “L” on them around town? She turned to Google to solve the mystery. “After reading about the “L” stood for, I was hooked. I had been wanting to support my community in a personal way, so I contacted the local club. A year later, I’m loving every second of serving my community with new friends.” As the youngest member of the Manchester Lions Club, Cheung has embraced opportunities to learn from experienced Lions and take on leadership roles that will help shape her future. “I feel like I’m getting a head start in life. Participating in meetings and being on committees has helped me grow into a more mature and professional person. I’m grateful to be working with pillars of the community and changing people’s lives together,” says Cheung. Young adults such as Cheung looking to connect with others, give back and gain hands-on experience should look no further than a Lions club. In turn, not only will they will enliven their clubs with fresh ideas and energy, they can impact the future in a big way, as Wyoming’s Immediate Past District 15 Governor Mindi Crabb points out. “Who will continue all of the great projects if we don’t have Lions to carry them on? Also, having a membership that better reflects the makeup of the community helps generate new project ideas, create more interest in joining and provide better service—which is what Lions are all about.” Go Digital Like Cheung, many next generation Lions first find their future clubs online. In South Carolina, the Goose Creek Lions’ new 21-year-old member, Paige Hensel, found them through their popular Facebook page. “If you’re looking for young people, the Internet is where you’ll find them. Plus all of this stuff is free—why not use it?” stresses Catherine Willoughby, 31, who is the youngest female president in club history. Make Family Ties “Sometimes you don't have to look further than your own family. Ask your cousins, nephews, nieces, sons and daughters, or even grandchildren,” says Odessa Grandview Lions Club President Stanley Prather, whose Texas club has seen a recent revitalization. And don’t think the potential for membership will stop within the family. “Your family is just a starting place. Once they are Lions, they will recruit friends. And so the chain reaction begins,” says Prather. Sell the Experience Everyone joins Lions to serve, but young professionals and students may be looking for opportunities to grow as leaders or for concrete experience to add to their resumes. Let them know the personal, social and professional growth being a Lion offers. The Stellarton and Area Lions in Nova Scotia, Canada, are helping young members step up. “One member is learning how to write a letter of request. We also have a secretary-in-training who uses his tablet to take electronic meeting notes,” says Diana Feit. Cheung felt empowered to make a successful presentation proposing a new fundraising comedy event. “I’m now the head chairperson for the committee,” says Cheung. A great mix of members of all ages will set clubs up for success, but Prather offers some advice to keep things in balance. “The older members may think that the younger members can do most of the work, while the younger members may feel like the older Lions have more time to do the work. We just have to be sensitive to each other’s abilities and availability.” –Jennifer Gilbert Gebhardt Digital LION Find more ideas and resources in LCI’s “Young Adult Recruiting Guide” at lionsclubs.org. Watch LCI’s video, “Become Involved, Become a Lion,” which encourages young adult membership at lionmagazine.org.
Published by International Association of Lions Clubs . View All Articles.
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