Gannon Carr 2016-01-20 01:54:11
Civic participation is the essence of social equality, and contributing to the national policy discussion has become a fundamental role of nonprofit organizations. Throughout its nearly 100-year history, Lions clubs have provided a strong, collective voice to engage legislators at the local, state and national level. Through advocacy, Lions can inform their elected officials of specific social concerns and help policymakers find solutions to persistent problems. Lions clubs are involved in a variety of activities that benefit the community interest but, of course, there are certain legal implications associated with volunteer involvement. Although Lions clubs strive to help those in need, volunteers are exposed to the risk of inadvertently injuring someone in the performance of their services. The most significant risk involves bodily injury—people being physically hurt. These claims are particularly troublesome because they involve demands for large sums of money, and subsequent recoveries can be financially devastating for those against whom they are filed. In 1997, U.S. President Bill Clinton signed the Volunteer Protection Act into law which, generally speaking, provides immunity from tort claims that might be filed against the volunteers of nonprofit organizations. However, the Act does not provide immunity to the organization itself. As you might imagine, legal claims against volunteer organizations have since increased in the United States—forcing many to dissolve or file bankruptcy as a result. This phenomenon can endanger the existence of Lions clubs even as public demand for their services grows. Recognizing the need to protect Lions clubs and volunteer organizations in the U.S., Lions Clubs International (LCI) engaged Congressman Steve Chabot of Ohio and Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois to develop a bill that would correct this issue and amend the 1997 Act. LCI is pleased to announce that the Volunteer Organization Act of 2015 (“VOPA”) was subsequently introduced into Congress last year. The bill amends the ’97 Act by expanding protection to volunteer and nonprofit organizations against liability resulting from the acts of individual volunteers. The bill is supported by a coalition of nonprofit service organizations including but not limited to: Rotary International, Kiwanis International, YMCA and Special Olympics. These organizations represent a cumulative total of 2.6 million American volunteers. The successful passage of this legislation and the fiscal health of Lions clubs and local nonprofit organizations depend on the strength of Lions across the U.S. LCI is proud to have taken the lead on this important measure, but needs U.S. Lions to lead this grassroots campaign. Please visit LCI’s online advocacy page for additional resources concerning VOPA. Lions are encouraged to use the resources available online to call, write or visit your local legislator and request they co-sponsor VOPA. Comments or questions concerning VOPA including updates or feedback regarding your local club or districts’ grassroots campaign efforts can be directed to: email@example.com.
Published by International Association of Lions Clubs . View All Articles.
This page can be found at http://digital.lionmagazine.org/article/LCI+Seeks+Legal+Protection/2373993/287895/article.html.