<b>Building Bridges</b> <b>Club Crosses the Generation Gap with New Facilities</b> The Dewey Beach Lions Club in Delaware has a lovely new 4,000- square-foot meeting hall that seats 120 with a full kitchen and bar area. While building the sparkling facility, the club also built up it ranks, adding about 33 new members in two years. Even better, their average age was just 40. While the clubhouse allows the Lions to offer services such as public bathrooms for those using the adjacent playground and meeting space for a host of nonprofit clubs, the construction itself brought the club together and allowed the next generation of Lions to roar. “They turned the whole project over to the three of us – the president, vice president and second vice president,” said Ron Krajewski, 34, a six-year Lion member who served as president and is now on the board of directors. “The three of us on a day-to-day basis were the ones making a decision.” And the turning over of responsibilities and projects to younger members, Krajewski said, has been the key to the club’s growth. “That’s the secret to growing a Lions club. You need to bring in one or two new members and you need to allow them to grow and trust them and allow them to bring their friends,” Krajewski said. This is how President Chris Moody, 35, sees his club growing. “When I was brought in several years ago I brought in several of my friends to the club and now they’re bringing their friends,” Moody said. “Once you can get a few of the younger members into the club it has the ability to grow rapidly.” As new members came into the club, Krajewski said he agreed it was important that they felt comfortable and had a voice. Lions with decades of membership experience yielded some of their leadership to newcomers. “The older members have really embraced the change and that’s honestly one of the biggest driving forces,” Krajewski said. “You can see a pattern here of younger members stepping up and the club allowing that to happen.” The newer members have added activities to the club’s roster, including a new fishing derby. “We have events that are kind of outside of the box,” Krajewski said. And longtime members are pleased with the results. Dennis Diehl said the clubhouse has been a 10-year project for the club, but resulted in two years of intensive planning and construction for Krajewksi. “What he did getting this building built was just incredible,” Diehl said. “I’m hoping to use the kitchen to teach Down Syndrome kids kitchen skills and be able to get them jobs in some of the restaurants in the area.” And inviting new groups of people to use the facilities is yet another avenue for potential club growth. “This is something that has always been envisioned because instead of necessarily giving money we can provide a facility,” said Krajweski. Krajewski said the building itself is a case study in how changing up leadership and empowering members leads to growth. “This is what you need to do. You’re either going to change or you’re going to die,” Krajweski said.
Published by International Association of Lions Clubs . View All Articles.
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