Todd Schwartz 2014-11-12 00:25:08
Clermont Lions Club, Indiana Age 65 | Retired Loan Officer I’ve lived in the same house for 40 years, and I raised four kids there. Nearby was a nice 20-acre park which is owned by the Lions. We played and picnicked in that park for four decades, so I knew about Lions for a long time. But no one ever asked me to join, so I just figured it was a closed men’s club. Which it was until 1987—actually 1995 for my club. As time went on and women were allowed to join, my friend Nancy kept bugging me about becoming a Lion. So did my neighbor. I knew they did good things—I didn’t know what exactly, other than the park and the community center—and that they were a good and lasting force in our community. I knew the people before I knew the vision, I guess you could say. But I joined in 2005, which I know isn’t very long ago in Lion years! But I’ve been busy—I’ve been the president of our club twice, district governor twice, region chair, council chair. And I’ve been on five missions to Mexico, which is absolutely my favorite project. Those missions change your life. Helping people who have so little is tremendously satisfying. My rusty, 40- year-old Spanish comes back a little more each time. Giving the gift of sight is amazing, and the people are so humble, so thankful. Last trip we fit a 100-year-old man with his first pair of glasses! He had walked down from the mountains in his Sunday best, smiling and laughing. He still farmed his fields every day! Helping him see clearly again—nothing beats that. As for the club positions I’ve held, well, when I first joined the zone meetings were pitched as something you really didn’t want to do. So I don’t know how I got talked into becoming vice president. But I’ll tell you, at my first cabinet meeting the world opened up. You go outside your club and you find new things to help your club, that’s how it works. I got even more involved, and I found new ideas and new ways of connecting with Lions. And eventually I was helping guide other clubs to try new projects and explore new things. A lot of clubs don’t like to step out of their comfort zone, but it’s vital to do that if Lions are going to stay relevant. Our club is blessed, with members from teenagers to 90-year-olds. I once installed an 18-year-old and an 81-year-old on the same evening. I have eight grandkids now, and I spend so much time teaching them what a good thing paying it forward is that they think Lions is my own personal club—and I’m happy to say that when it comes to commitment and satisfaction, they are exactly right!
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