A Recruiting No-Brainer Former Leos Are Primed to Become Devoted Lions Kelsey Norton caught the service bug earlier than most. Growing up helping out on projects with her mom’s Medway Lions Club in Massachusetts, Norton learned what it felt like to help someone. She never wanted to lose that feeling. “It’s like it’s in my blood to help people,” says 18-year-old Norton. When her high school chartered a Leo club, she proudly became its first president. After graduating, Norton couldn’t imagine not being a part of the Lions family anymore. Joining the Lions club she grew up with was an easy choice. “It was a natural transition for me,” Norton explains. Many Leos like Norton are out there, ready and willing to continue serving if only asked. Leos come with the already established love of serving, knowledge of Lionism and ability to lead. With the right combination of inclusion and encouragement, Leos can make a seamless shift to Lions clubs lucky to have them. Build the Relationship The seeds for future Lions are planted while they are still Leos. Sponsoring a Leo club will help young people learn to love serving and want to continue their work as adult Lions. But don’t stop with just sponsorship—think partnership. Stephanie Napier, a 19-year-old Colchester Lion in Connecticut, has fond memories of working together with Lions when she was a Leo. “We worked closely with the Lions at most of our events. I would always volunteer for Leo and Lions events because I would look forward to the people. Working together was the best mentoring,” says Napier. Respect Their Experience Remember that former Leos bring with them experience with leadership and hands-on service when they are inducted as Lions. Winster Ceballos, 34, now a Passaic-Clifton Lion in New Jersey, grew up with Lions in the Dominican Republic. After tagging along with his Lion grandfather for years, Ceballos became charter president of the Santo Domingo Miraflores Leo Club. “My time as a Leo helped me learn to talk to an audience, plan and administer projects and work with people. We worked with the Lions in an orphanage, a project that was close to my heart,” says Ceballos. Since he had already been working with the Lions before joining, he had a mostly easy transition. But the Lions’ view of him as a youngster was sometimes hard to move beyond. “I was sometimes seen as a kid and not taken too seriously. It’s important to let the formers Leos express themselves and share ideas. New ideas are always good for a Lions club,” says Ceballos. Encourage Leadership Leos-turned-Lions might be prepared to take on leadership early on, so be ready to know when the moment is right. “Global Leadership Team (GLT) members were asking me what sort of seminars young Lions might like, and then they invited me to join the GLT. I appreciate that they realize what potential I have to offer,” says Norton. Napier took on duties as meeting program chair and Lion tamer assistant. And believed to be the youngest council chair (Multiple District 16) in the world, Ceballos is taking the groundwork he laid as a Leo to unchartered heights. Bring Leos into the Lions fold, and welcome a new generation of Lions leaders. Norton points out, “I’m met with looks of surprise when Lions from other clubs realize I’m a Lion. They’re amazed, but they shouldn’t be. They should be asking, ‘How do we get more like you to join?’ Young people care, and we want to serve. We just need opportunities.”
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