Colin Powell “Al [Brandel] kept referring to kindness. Individual acts of kindness. Everyday Heroes. And reminded me of an experience I had many, many years ago. Forty years ago I was a senior warden of a church in Virginia and we were asked to take into our church as an assistant pastor a minister who had some difficulties in life. And we were asked just to take him in, let him serve our congregation for a while, and that he would probably move on. “We never asked what his problems were. We never asked what troubles he was having in his life. We took him in. And I’ll never forget, after he had been there about eight months, he was giving a sermon one Sunday and in the course of the sermon he said something I’ll never forget, and I’ve tried to live by this, and you live by this. He said to the congregation in a way that made it clearly autobiographical, he was talking about himself, ‘Always show more kindness than might seem necessary, because the person you are extending it to needs it more than you will ever know.’ That’s what Lions have been doing for all of these 90 years. “Always show more kindness. Reach out, touch. And never have we needed it as much as we need it today. Not only here in the United States where with our economic difficulties there’s a greater need for people to step forward and volunteer. … “This is an interesting time to be alive. Rather than military strategy determining the future it is going to be: Who has the most effective economy? How can we create more wealth, not just for those at the top, but wealth that will lift people up out of poverty, wealth that will take care of health care, wealth that will educate people, but above all wealth that will give hope to people that there is a better life ahead? Wealth that will be created by free economic systems, wealth that will be shaped by government, but let there be no doubt: It is the private sector, the non-governmental sector that is going to be an important part of lifting people up out of poverty, and the Lions Clubs International will play an enormous role in this wealth creation and lifting-up out of destitution.” Rev. Chris Riley The Rev. Chris Riley of Australia, a youth activist, received the 2009 Lions Humanitarian Award at the final plenary session. “I think there are two types of greatness. The second type of greatness is what’s happening here, today, where you receive awards and accolades, where you are selected to stand out. The primary greatness is what you do everyday and that’s the most important greatness that any of us can achieve where we align our values with the way we live our lives. And you’ve got a fairly tall order to follow. Yesterday, I heard some of the values that drive Lions, the value that ‘we serve,’ compassion and integrity. We work as a team and we perform miracles. They are the values that you have outlined for yourself, and they are the values that you must live everyday. “You [Lions] are the guardian angels for so many as was said yesterday. You change lives everyday in every continent. You serve. You model one of my most pressing messages as I go around the world. You model my belief that there is only one race, the human race and, as Martin Luther King Jr., who is one of my heroes, said, ‘We must live together as brothers or perish as fools.’ Confronted by the words, and I will leave these words with you, the words of Martin Luther King Jr. He challenged us in this way as he said, ‘Every person must decide whether they will walk in the light of creative altruism or the path of destructive selfishness.’ Lions, you have chosen to walk in the light of creative altruism. Please for the sake of so many people out there hidden in the darkness. Please keep shining that light on the dark places of our world.” Eberhard J. Wirfs Eberhard J. Wirfs, the 2009-10 international president, gave his inaugural presidential address at the final plenary session “I want to speak to you from my heart and tell you why I am a Lion, and why, just like you, I am compelled to service. I know what it is like to be hungry. And I consider this a privilege. I know what it is like to be at the mercy of powerful forces outside our control. During the horrible war, when I was just a little boy, my dear mother, she kept us safe and alive. Amid destruction and suffering she sheltered us and taught us what is goodness, what is caring and kindness, and how this can keep us alive and help us survive. “These qualities can also be found in people with whom we have no personal connection from outside. One day, when I was a little boy living on the farm, we saw a jeep of U.S. soldiers approaching from the distance, and I was scared, of course. One of those soldiers took out an orange and he smiled and gave it to me. At first I thought it was a ball and was ready to play with it, but he peeled it and let me eat it. It was the first time in my life that I had tasted an orange. These kind soldiers came back several times, and gave me rides in their jeep. I enjoyed their visits, even though I couldn’t understand a word they said. They are speaking English, my mother explained to me. That was the first time I met Americans. I realized there was a great big world out there, I realized there were endless possibilities and there was kindness. “I want you to take a good look around you. Today we gather here from many nations. In a few days we will be back in our own countries and communities. We will be back to our Lions clubs meetings; we’ll continue our service activities. Our work touches everyone around the world. Therefore we must think globally, but do not forget the bigger picture. Keep in mind that we are still a global community. It is through cooperation, interaction and teamwork that we will transcend all borders and strengthen our association. Of course, we maintain our own cultures by serving in our own communities but at the same time we remain a part of a global, humanitarian entity. This means taking care of local needs while building a better tomorrow and creating an ever-better world.” Al Brandel Brandel, the 2008-09 international president, delivered his farewell address at the first plenary “My greatest year as a Lion was when I was club president, because that’s where the rubber met the road, and we can do the most immediate good for many people. It wasn’t when I was a district governor. It wasn’t when I was international director or as an officer. It was when I was a club president. “When you go out and do what you do every year, when you hand a food basket over to somebody during the holidays, or toys to children at holidays, take the newest member of your club with you. Have that member look into the eyes of the people and the children you’re handing those food baskets to and you will see and understand what it means to be a Lion, because in their eyes you’ve just made a miracle from service and you have just become their Everyday Heroes. “Never take that simple act of kindness that you do in your community, whether it’s giving eyeglasses and eye exams to people that can’t afford it, whether it’s food baskets, whether it’s sometimes just a matter of going over to somebody’s house after they’ve had a death in the family, just remember that simple act of kindness is not being done by anybody else, and never take it for granted. “One thing I’ve been proud of this year, we’ll be able to do even more miracles next year and the years to come because of the partnerships we formed or that we’ve done in the past. We are reaching out to people or organizations with prestige. With deep pockets, too! Lots of connections with similar goals. We are leveraging our strengths. We are more effective because of these connections.”
Published by International Association of Lions Clubs . View All Articles.
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