Lessons in Lionism Come from Years of Experience New Jersey Lion Marshall Klein fondly recalls his first Lion fundraiser. It was 1954, he was 28 and the North Arlington Lions sold light bulbs door to door, netting a profit of $1,000. The retired director of the Lions Eye Bank of New Jersey, Klein is 90 now. He proudly looks back to 1959 when he served as sight chairman for his club and a decade later when he was district governor. But we cannot go back to those days, he says. Times have changed. He has, however, paid attention to what’s worked for Lions and what hasn’t over the years. And those lessons are most useful when shared. You say the day you sold light bulbs was your best day in Lionism. Why? Looking back, it was not only the money, but this one long day that brought us all closer as everyone had a story to tell. We had 45 to 50 members, and afterwards we had food together. We chatted about all the things we had done together. It was involvement, not just fundraising. You also share fond memories of the day your club placed sand where boys and girls enter the lake at Camp Marcella – New Jersey Camp for Blind Children. What made that day special? It sounded like an easy job until we found out that it had to be done in the winter when the lake was frozen. In the spring, the ice would melt, and the sand would slowly drift down to make a sandy bottom. It was a great day because it was a lot of physical labor. We physically worked together for our community. Working hard and for your own community brings you together. What makes a great club? Four ingredients: Membership, projects, fundraising and retention. We must also include involvement and interesting club meetings. The club meeting is the most important in this equation as this is how you set the tone for all the other ingredients. If the quality of the meetings is uninteresting, not only is it difficult to attract new members, but you will begin to lose old members. You worry about diminishing attendance at meetings. How can we combat that? Conduct meetings where you can have good speakers without interruptions. Don’t be lacking in planning meetings. How can you bring in a new member without a good meeting and a good speaker? Have a good fundraising project too, but remember that part of raising funds successfully is how well you spend the money you raise. Where does it go? Do a project for the town that can involve the town. You have to work with your community to make community members want to get involved and work with you. You joined Lions when it was a men’s club. What do you think about increasing the number of female Lions and encouraging diversity? Women in Lions is great. It’s important to have women in the club. Lions clubs with women do a better job. They work hard, and they have a different approach. We need to be welcoming to everyone. New Jersey has many ethnic clubs. Ethnic Lions clubs have big membership. Some meet on a Sunday, and Lions becomes a family thing. They spend time together as families, and those children grow up and join the club. New Jersey Lion Marshall Klein is 90 and retired, spending his winters in Florida, but he will never stop being an interested and involved Lion.
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