Lions and Leos share their stories. Claire Davies | 16 Hood River Valley Leo Club, Oregon Davies is a self-described risk taker. She is a freestyle and alpine skier. For her school, she competes in track and field. She commutes 60 miles to Portland four to six times a week to play for two soccer clubs. “I’m extremely happy and outgoing. I’m not afraid to embarrass myself in front of a group. I like to have fun,” she says. But being a Leo still has lent a little edge to her game. “The leadership opportunities I’ve had as a Leo have helped me become a leader on my soccer teams,” she says. “If it wasn’t for Leos and Lions, I wouldn’t have met some of my best friends I have today.” Her proudest moment as a Leo is a project she created and chaired to collect 800 pairs of shoes for Soles4Souls. Her Leo meetings now draw at least 25 youths. “For our small town, that’s a huge turnout!” she says. Lions may be older than her, but she can relate well to them. “I love working with them because they’re always so funny and cheerful. I’ve already learned so much,” says Davies, who wants a career either in medicine or soccer. “The Leo club is such a good fit for me.” —Pamela Mohr Aaron Madar | 41 Markham Lions Club, Ontario, Canada Madar has the rare distinction of having been both the oldest and youngest member of his club. He started out with a group of young professionals in the Toronto Trillium Lions Club and then transferred to the more traditional Markham Lions Club. “With my former club, we had a lot of new ideas and events for a younger crowd, like an all-day sports charity event. Meetings were informal, and we would go out to dinner afterward if people wanted to. My current club is more traditional, with a lot of longstanding events and more formal dinner meetings. It took time to adjust to the differences,” says Madar, a marketing manager. Active on social media since the ’90s, he has 4,000 Facebook friends and 1,000 Twitter followers. He believes there’s a lot of untapped potential in millennials. “If LCI really wants membership to go up, we need to start more new clubs for young professionals,” he says. “Lions have got to be more active on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. It takes a lot of practice to build a following and figure out the types of posts they respond to, but it’s the best marketing for the younger generation.” —Jennifer Gilbert Gebhardt Dan Goodwin | 52 Sacramento Senator Lions Club, California Goodwin played rugby in college, but now he gets his exercise as a Lion. He rakes bamboo leaves, trims trees and paints a shed in helping to maintain the sensory garden for the visually impaired at the Sacramento Zoo and a nearby Japanese garden. “It’s great to be outside, enjoy the company of other Lions and have a sense of accomplishment,” he says. A vice president of health and human services systems, Goodwin is his club’s membership chairperson. “We’re a hands-on club, so the best way to let someone know what being a Lion is like is to have them work alongside us,” he says. A recent experience exemplifies this approach. “A friend from work would come to fundraisers but never showed interest in joining. He finally came to a Japanese garden workday—he joined after that.” Goodwin also takes an active approach toward recruiting younger members. “We Lions have to get out into the community and make sure young folks are aware of who we are. And once they join, we’ve got to get them engaged and really listen to their ideas,” he says. “Some clubs and districts aren’t willing to change or try something new. That can deter new Lions from becoming leaders. In my club, a lot of people who joined in just the past couple of years are taking on leadership roles.” —JGG Pamela Williams | 62 Marietta Lions Club, Georgia Williams attributes her can-do spirit as a Lion to her 21 years in the Army providing logistics support for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. “I just jump right in there and try to get things moving. I don’t stand around waiting for orders,” she says with a laugh. She retired from the Army, but not from service. She works at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, sending medical personnel overseas. She treasures her two rescue dogs, Dozer, a big Husky, and Max, a little Pomeranian. “They travel with me everywhere I can take them,” she says. She became a Lion after learning more about them from her uncle, Lion Clarence. Her biggest hope as a member is to see more women as well as people of color in leadership positions. “What Lions do is critical to a healthy society,” she emphasizes. “But we need to reach out to more people.” —PM Amanda Gehring | 30 Kerrville, Texas Gehring was the youngest member of her club in Delaware by far when she joined at age 23. But the transition was smooth. She had attended Lions events in New York with her father, David, since she was 5, and as a speech therapist, she was accustomed to interacting with people older than her. Besides, Lions immediately put her to work. She ran the pancake breakfast and served as eyeglass collection chairperson. “I did all the things Lions 30 years older than me do. They made me feel confident,” she says. Gehring recently moved to Kerrville, Texas, where there are four Lions clubs from which to choose. She’s met Lions from all over Texas at a cleanup of the Texas Lions Camp in Kerrville. She was so enthusiastic about Lions and the camp that a work colleague has already asked about becoming a Lion. —PM Mason Romero | 19 Hood River Valley Leo Club, Oregon Studying kinesiology at Oregon State University, Romero says being a Leo changed him in an unexpected and deeply personal way. “I’ve become much more aware of the amount of need we still have in this country, and I’ve become more compassionate as a result,” he explains. He’s fed the hungry, participated in environmental action projects, provided water filtration systems to poor families in Nepal, collected money to fight cancer and participated in dozens of projects that help people and the planet—all as a teenager. “Leo clubs offer so much to anyone who participates. When you’re young, there’s no better way to help others than as a Leo,” says Romero, a windsurfer, kite boarder, rock climber and hiker who also enjoys photography. He believes his club’s diversity is what makes it successful and engaging to members. “So many people of different backgrounds are able to come together and help the community,” he says. “Our club has a fairly casual atmosphere, so nobody feels scared to contribute at meetings.” —PM Hilary Wickenhauser | 18 Cologne Leo Club, Minnesota Although her mother, Cologne Lion Anna Wickenhauser, helped sponsor a new Leo club, Hilary Wickenhauser, then 13 years old, was reluctant to join. Participating in her first service project changed her mind. “Being a Leo became one of the most important parts of my life,” says Wickenhauser, a college freshman. “In a world with so many problems, Leoism has helped me be optimistic because I can see the ways to help people.” She is passionate about the power of books, and her favorite project was a Lions’ book drive that collected more than 20,000 books. “Something as simple as providing someone with a book can be a key to success,” says Wickenhauser, who helped launch a summer reading program. “The children are excited to have teenagers interacting with them, and the Leos love encouraging reading and also being silly with the kids,” she says. Becoming a Leo changed her life. “In high school I struggled with depression and anxiety. Being a Leo provided me with a positive outlet to do good and friends to rely on. I saw the joy we brought to others and redirected that back to myself, helping me to be motivated and thrive—even when I didn’t think I could. I can honestly say I would not be the person I am today had I not been a Leo.” —JGG Darnell Little | 66 Spenard Lions Club, Alaska Little’s wife, Yvonne, a fellow Lion, likes to tease him: “You can’t save the world.” His retort is: “Yes, you can—one person at a time.” He feeds homeless veterans, screens children’s vision, dresses up in a pink suit to raise funds to fight breast cancer and helps victims of domestic violence. He’s walked in the cold and rain to raise money for the hungry. “I’m always trying to show people that tomorrow’s a better day than today,” he says. Little is a born adventurer. A native of Montgomery, Alabama, he’s long since left the Lower 48 behind and never looked back. “Alaska is my everything. It’s beautiful, bold, wild, exciting and free. It takes a certain type of person to live here. It was the spot that God put me, and I’m loving it.” Little says he’s only been tested by Alaska’s brutal winters once—“the winter of 1980 when I rode a bicycle to three jobs. But I truly enjoyed it.” He became a Lion shortly after his wife and mother-in-law did because he saw how they made a difference in others’ lives. “Now I dress up as Santa and deliver the gifts and get to see the smiles on their faces. I’m the only 150-pound Santa for miles around!” He is a Lion to help others, but he fully understands what it has meant in his life. “I’ve learned to love people more because my club has expressed love to me and our community,” he says. —PM Tom Garriss | 68 Lynne Garriss | 65 Coppell Lions Club, Texas Married for 40 years, Tom and Lynne readily admit they approach service differently. He typically thinks about the big picture, and she often focuses on the details. But they claim the same favorite project: their club’s holiday toy and food drive. Students in local schools make blankets, and classes compete on collecting the most food. “It’s kids helping kids,” says Tom, a Global Leadership Team member. Adds Lynne, “We’re able to directly help people rather than just making a monetary contribution.” Tom is active in building Lions leaders through the annual District 2 X1 Lions University. He sees a need to improve membership recruitment. “We need a flexible approach for each district,” says Tom, who spent his career as a construction manager. “We may need to form more branch clubs that are less traditional for millennials or consolidate smaller clubs.” Meanwhile, Lynne stays busy with club activities. “That way, as a family, we can make sure we’re active in the club as well as the district,” she says. Adds Tom, “And it gives us room to do our own thing and not stumble over each other.” After 14 years as an “unofficial” Lion, Lynne took the oath last year. “I joined because I retired from teaching and also because a female Lion encouraged me to join her. But really, Tom made it happen—he filled out the membership form for me!” —JGG Barry Allen | 69 Manchester Lions Club, Michigan Twenty years as a Navy pilot followed by an 18-year stint flying with United Airlines drew Allen to Lions. “My eyesight is extremely important to me, so I know how important it is to others. Having seen much of the world, I understand the poverty and hardships people face,” he says. Since 2007 he has rotated through all of his club’s leadership positions, but found serving as charter president to be the most rewarding. “In most cases, the president is handed the reins and can adjust the direction of the club. But as charter president you need to envision where the club will be in five to 10 years,” says Allen, a past district governor. As the district centennial coordinator, Allen visits clubs with his wife, Peggy, the district governor. “I’ve read several books on Melvin Jones, and I’ve worked up a presentation on him,” Allen says. His Lions family has grown over the years by hosting 29 youths from nine countries through LCI’s Youth Exchange program. They stay in touch through a Facebook group Allen created, and he and Peggy visited several of their “kids” in Australia and New Zealand. “Every student is special to us. We treat them like grandkids. Unless you’ve done it, you don’t realize what an honor it is to show young people our wonderful country.” —JGG Janet B. Quinto | 73 San Diego Executive Lions Club, California Quinto relishes being a Lion because she can help her homeland. A clinical laboratory scientist, Quinto traveled on three Lions medical missions to the Philippines. Then fate steered her to schoolchildren in dire need. On a trip to visit family with her husband, Lion Alex, also from the Philippines, they met a teacher. The encounter was pure happenstance. The school was so remote that the teacher rarely left his village but happened to be on a break at a gathering with the Quintos. So in 2014 the Quintos made an arduous trek to the island of Castilla. “We traveled by plane, boat and by land with the aid of a walking stick to climb a mountain until we reached Dulangan elementary school. It was really challenging to walk through the rain and on such slippery roads,” Quinto recalls. A crowd of excited children, parents and teachers greeted them. “They were all so emotional and joyful,” she says. Lions brought donated backpacks brimming with school supplies and sandals for the barefooted children. The 81 students learn in classrooms with no electricity, but that may change someday. Now retired, Quinto says supporting the school will be an ongoing club project. —PM Helene V. Thompson | 52 Satellite Beach Lions Club, Florida Lionism is all about the fellowship for Thompson. She felt awed carrying the Florida state flag in the parade at the international convention in Hamburg, Germany, in 2013. “There was such a tremendous sense of camaraderie on the parade route. To be in a city with 20,000 Lions is amazing. You feel like you’re all friends, even if you haven’t met yet,” she says. She joined the Danbury Lions in Connecticut as a young mother of two daughters in 1999. Her club was family-friendly. “I could serve the community and be a parent. My club found projects I could do with my children, like bell ringing for the Salvation Army. And as my children grew, I grew as a Lion,” says Thompson, a region chairperson. Now that her children are older, Thompson keeps the family atmosphere alive in her club. “I find the constant pressure to add members to sometimes be counterproductive. I think the focus should be on keeping and building what we already have.” —JGG Anthony Martinez | 51 Parlier Lions Club, California It took only one incident, just one year after becoming a Lion, for Martinez to become irrevocably committed to Lionism. On an eyeglass mission to Mexico, he translated for an elderly woman who was overcome with emotion at being able to see clearly for the first time in her life. He also was moved at witnessing her joy. “And that’s when I ‘earned my whiskers’ and became a Lion for life,” says Martinez, a Fresno police lieutenant. That sort of inspiration was not exactly what he expected when joined in 1997. “What’s a Lion?” Martinez had asked. “My sponsor said it was a bunch of old guys that got together, drank beer and ate tri-tip.” Martinez soon discovered that was a joke. The service component of membership complemented his dedication to police service—he’s delivered twins on the job and received an award for risking his life saving someone trapped in a burning car. He’s proud of Lions’ teamwork and cohesion. “No one dominates the group. Everyone is encouraged to give their input,” says Martinez, an immediate past district governor. “They made my year as governor run as smooth as possible.” —PM Nigel Malkin | 51 Ambleside Tiddlycove Lions Club, British Columbia, Canada Malkin isn’t a Lion for the recognition. “At multiple district conventions there’s a little too much backpatting and not enough discussion about service. Starting a few years ago, I refused to accept any more awards. It’s nice to have recognition, but that’s not what it’s about for me,” says Malkin, who runs businesses including a commercial laundry company and a dry cleaning store. Malkin also believes clubs need to move away from old ways to draw and retain members. “New members don’t seem to stay longer than a few years because they don’t like formal meetings and the older members don’t let them get involved enough. I hope this changes,” he says. A“roll-up-your-sleeves Lion,” Malkin has an affinity for his club’s more intimate projects. “My favorite projects are the smaller ones, like our barbecue. But we raise the most funds through our big projects like our Christmas tree sales.” -JGG Lorne Beaudette | 62 Salt Spring Island Lions Club, British Columbia, Canada A retired supervisor in the oil industry, Beaudette finds Lions to his liking—and his wife’s. “I learned leadership and public speaking skills on the job— invaluable when it comes to coordinating the efforts of a bunch of ‘Type A personality’ volunteers,” says Beaudette, twice a past president. “My wife says that I need to be the boss of something, and she’s just happy it’s not her.” Beaudette joined Lions in 2010 after his retirement. He and Charlene were out enjoying a cup of coffee and noticed a Lions emblem on a couple’s car. “I asked them what Lions were all about. They invited us to a couple of meetings,” he says. Beaudette is proof you can be a Lion after a career and still ride off into the sunset. With Charlene riding on the back, Beaudette has piloted his motorcycle all over North America. “We’re a motorcycle club of two,” he says. —PM Steve Anthony Simmonds | 40 Brooklyn Metropolis Lions Club, New York His motto is “Metropolis Rocks!”—and Simmonds is a big reason for his club’s energy. With an infectious enthusiasm for life and serving, Simmonds finds joy in giving back and sharing camaraderie with his 55-member club. “My club is a great mixture of people who love to work together and socialize. The older members keep us grounded, and the young make sure to keep the club busy. We have a great connection,” says Simmonds, originally from Jamaica. His favorite project is the club’s Thanksgiving dinner. Members meet the night before to prep the food, decorate the hall, play music and enjoy one another’s company. “The next day, we’re ready to serve—350 people. Their smiles are priceless. It’s a great feeling to see the faces of people I gave my heart to,” he says. “Growing up in Jamaica, my mom fed and clothed everyone she came into contact with. That’s where my passion to serve stemmed from,” says Simmonds, who is teaching his 5-year-old son about the value of service. —JGG Greg Simpson | 53 Hood River Lions Club, Oregon Simpson is not one to vent about the “good old days” or worry about the next generation. He mentors 60 Leos, and he’s convinced the future is in good hands. “These Leos are top-rung. I sit back and watch them problemsolve and refine their ideas into a first-rate finished product. I think these young adults are capable of a lot of great things on their own,” says Simpson, a firefighter/paramedic. He’s willing to walk an extra mile or two for Leos—literally. While in Hawaii last year for the international convention, he and Lion Tom Schaefer twice walked the parade route, once with Leos and then with Oregon Lions. “I told myself I wouldn’t do that ever again, but I’m sure I’ll forget that by Chicago 2017,” he says with a smile. Simpson was once asked by a past international director when he became a Lion. “I piped up and said April 1999. He said, ‘No, I mean when did you feel in your heart that you were a Lion?’” It was when he first began screening children’s vision. “Without us, these kids might have been left behind, embarrassed because they just didn’t understand something,” he says. Service runs in his blood: he’s a second-generation Lion. “Even before my parents were Lions, they were a great example of service to their community,” he explains. “I think you get out of a club what you’re willing to put in, maybe even a little bit more.” —PM Greta Salsbury Springfield Gardens Lions Club, New York Originally from St. Kitt’s in the West Indies, Salsbury moved to New York in 1986. She learned about Lions through her church, joining in 1992. “Being a Lion has opened up so many doors for me to be able to help people,” she says with a soft, lovely island lilt. “I just like helping people.” Salsbury says her favorite club project is supporting a shelter for women and children who are victims of domestic violence. “They need to know that people care about them. We tell them that when you come upon hard times, it’s not the end of the world. You can still rise up. And many of them do.” says Salsbury, whose own life is testament to upward mobility. A retired statistician for the United Nations, she first received a degree from Elmira University in upstate New York and then earned her MBA in international business from Rutgers. Salsbury also mentors Leos, some of whom she hopes will eventually become Lions. “We need young people. They learn from us. Leos help at the shelter, too. We’re there to guide them and help them, but we also learn from each other. I think we need to realize that if we work with others, we can just get more done.” —PM Stefan Kaufmann | 52 Rüsselsheim Lions Club, Germany Kaufman reveres his club’s 54-year history. “Our club has a legacy, which makes us all proud. I get to work with Lions who can look back on 40 years of Lionism,” says Kaufman, club secretary. But he also envisions how Lions will advance into the future. An IT consultant for more than 20 years, Kaufman is co-chair of Lions SmiLE (Social Media Including Lions Everywhere, lionssmile.org), a global, volunteer-led project that helps Lions use social media. “Despite some progress, Lions still need to improve on embracing the Internet. Online tools are today’s platform for sharing news, attracting new members and supporting collaboration among Lions,” he says. Through SmiLE, Kaufman leads seminars at forums and conventions to take the guesswork and fear out of the Internet. He loves connecting with his “global community of friends.” At one convention he assisted an 80-year-old Lion who wanted to use social media to improve her club’s fundraising for a diabetes project. “It was fantastic to see a senior Lion open to new ways to serve and reach her community,” he says. —JGG Ian Hill | 57 Plymouth Lions Club, England Hill says he’s so involved in Lions activities that his wife, Dawn, complains she never sees him. She’s only kidding—he thinks. A zone chairman, he also is second vice president of his club. He still works fulltime helping people with learning disabilities after spending 24 years in the Royal Navy, sailing the world. But he flew 8,000 miles to Hawaii last year for the international convention. The best thing about it was meeting Lions worldwide. “Lions are the friendliest group. Some people are just born to care. Those are the people who become Lions,” he says. His best moments as a Lion are helping to feed the homeless, a project he suggested to his club four years ago. “This is one reason I became a Lion, to help people. You can’t beat the friendships in this club, either.” He believes that the biggest challenge for clubs today is attracting younger members. —PM Parveen Sandhu | 34 North Delta Lions Club, British Columbia, Canada Sandhu has a very special reason for being a Lion. Every summer from the age of 6 to 18 the Lions sponsored her at the Easter Seals Camp in Squamish, British Columbia. Born with spina bifida, she uses a wheelchair. “I could forget about being disabled and just have fun with the other kids and teenagers,” she recalls. Sandhu became a Lion three years ago. “At the end of the day, I’m just feeling proud to have done something for my community and help put a smile on people’s faces,” she says. —PM Curt Wentzell | 60 Sackville, Nova Scotia, Canada A 40-year veteran of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Wentzell finds that volunteering give his life balance. “Volunteering helps me keep a positive perspective about the general population,” he says. “If any police officer doesn’t want to serve others in a civilized society, well, then, they’d better seek different employment.” But it took two years of arm twisting by a friend to get him to join in 2008. “He kept telling me about all the projects they’d done and how proud he was to be a Lion. The only thing I knew about Lions was that the club provided free meeting space for my sons when they were in Cub Scouts,” he says. Now Wenztel is the one being persistent in recruiting. “I rocked my club by sponsoring three new members in one evening—all ladies!” he proudly says. His favorite project is supporting Camp Brigadoon, a new camp in District N 2 for children with chronic health problems. He’d like to see more clubs use social media. “Too many clubs are afraid or reluctant to embrace this opportunity,” he says. —PM Søren Stensgaard | 55 Greve Lions Club, Denmark A district governor now, Stensgaard may have very well quit Lions if his club had not been flexible. Both he and his wife, Helle, work demanding jobs at a major European bank, and their two girls were teenagers when he became a Lion in 2002. “We were an active family and had limited free time. My club knew I had to prioritize and couldn’t participate in all the activities,” he says. “Members should know that sometimes everyone, for various reasons, can’t make the same effort.” Hawaii last year was his first international convention. “It was overwhelming. It was a true experience of diversity to see so many people from different parts of the world,” he recalls. He liked it so much that he plans to attend the 2017 international convention in Chicago to celebrate Lions’ centennial. —PM Judith Witter | 51 Tropical Gardens Lions Club, Grand Cayman Witter’s club is atypical. When she helped charter her club in 1993, the membership was composed solely of women. “We welcomed our first male Lion three years ago, and now he’s club president,” she says. He’s one of three men in the 44-member club. Priorities haven’t changed. The club’s signature project remains breast cancer awareness. A campaign runs the entire month of October. Members issue about 500 vouchers every year for mammograms to women not covered by insurance and also organize a Memorial Walk/Run, Dress Down/Dress Pink Day and a breakfast for breast cancer survivors. Witter says she loves being a Lion because she gets to meet new people and has made so many friends—“not just locally, but internationally as well. And I get to make a difference in so many lives. If I wasn’t a Lion, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to be involved with projects that touch so many lives in my own community and beyond.” —PM Zsolt Istvan | 47 Miskolc Lions Club, Hungary Every holiday season, Istvan staffs his club’s small, wooden hut at the city’s Christmas Market, talking with passersby and selling mulled wine. “It’s great to meet people and tell them about what Lions do in this festive atmosphere,” says Istvan, a district governor. “We raise money for the blind and have a lot of fun. We don’t notice how cold it is when we drink warm wine.” A mechanical engineer in waste management, Istvan loves that as a Lion he can help people directly, alongside friends who feel the same way. A club outing with 20 blind people to a vineyard embodied his favorite aspects of being a Lion. The group picked more than 1,500 pounds of grapes for wine, later sold at an auction. “It was a great day because most of the blind people had never experienced a grape harvest before. We got to know them and learned about their daily life. That helped me be a better Lion.” —JGG
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