LIONS ARE FULL OF BRIGHT IDEAS FOR TACKLING GLOBAL ISSUES. Creative problem solving. For more than 100 years, this has defined the way Lions serve in their local communities and around the world. The 21st century has produced an astounding amount of innovation, changing how humans interact with each other and with the world. From smartphones to self-driving cars, we’ve become accustomed to technological breakthroughs offering to make our lives just a little bit easier, better, more connected. However, not every problem can be solved with a gadget. And too seldom do we acknowledge those innovating outside of Silicon Valley. While technology is addressing many of the world’s most pressing issues, there are age-old problems that require rolled-up sleeves and interpersonal exchange. This is where Lions thrive. Now more than ever, the world needs kind, inspired people willing and ready to do the work others won’t do. These are the stories of Lions and clubs who are taking matters into their own hands through big hearts and innovative service. Extra Digital Content Lions have a tradition of innovation: • Lions support new technologies for the blind (November 2008 LION). • 10 brilliant breakthroughs in service (April 2013 LION). • California Lions help youths grow a community garden (June 1976 LION). • The first Braille Bible concordance (a verbal index) is completed by Mississippi Lions (June 1934 LION). SKILLS, MEALS AND HOPE Getting homeless children off the streets for good INNOVATION: LIONS STREETCHILDRENS CENTER // PHILIPPINES As a 6-year-old boy, Joseph Pagulayan was abandoned, left to wander the streets of Manila in the Philippines alone. His survival was dependent on finding something to eat each day “like a street dog,” he says. His world was the public market where every day he made a few pesos carrying buckets of fish from delivery trucks to fish vendors’ stalls, and he slept wherever the night found him. There were no dreams, he remembers. There was just the need to survive. Then one day somebody—he does not know who—took him to the Lions Streetchildrens Center. For 10 years there he had food, clothes, shelter and friends. He was educated and taught to cut hair. And until he reached the legal age of 18, he had a home. Pagulayan is 29 now, married, has two children and works as a hairdresser. And he returns to his home at the center often to play guitar and cut hair for the young boys, who idolize him. “I am doing this for free because I realize that life is indeed too hard to live if a child is not educated, no skills, no parents, no one to depend on for help,” he says. Pagulayan is there because of the Lions. In 1998, Quezon City Cubao Lion Emmanuel “Manny” Cuasay and Past District Governor Heracillo Palad (now deceased) gathered the Lions together and said, “Let’s do something for the children.” Let’s do something, they meant, to help the Philippines’ youngest—the thousands of children who roam the streets day and night with no home to go to. They are abandoned and abused; many have parents who have nothing to provide for them. Led by Cuasay, Lions partnered with the city’s Department of Welfare and Social Development, and with the help of Lions Clubs International Foundation, opened the Lions Streetchildren Center in 2000. In 2005, with assistance from LCIF, they added the Lions Livelihood and Skills Training Center where children 12 and older are taught technical and electrical skills, cooking, carpentry and hairdressing so they have a marketable skill when they make their own way at age 18. About 250 children live in the village that includes four houses—two for boys and two for girls ages 5 to 18, Cuasay says. Although it is staffed by the welfare department, five trustees from four Lions clubs in District 301 D2 manage the home that is dedicated to the youngest boys. Lions clubs and other organizations support them, Cuasay says, but day-to-day needs such as building repairs and problems with children fall on the trustees and especially on Cuasay, who is at the village at least once a week. “I’m sorry that I cannot do more,” says Cuasay. “But I’m happy that we can help some because some is better than none.” Jenelyn Cabrera, 26, also learned to be a hair stylist in the three years when the center was her home. Born to a poor family in a southern province, she stowed away on a ship for Manila where she became another streetchild wondering around the port until the day someone took her to the village. Now she lives in a boarding house close to work but travels far to support her father and siblings, who live in a shanty. Her father earns $10 a day as a carpenter. “I’m sorry there are more sad stories than there are good stories to tell,” says Cuasay. “But things are a little better because Lions are here. For 17 years we have done our best, taking small steps to make the lives of marginalized children a little better. We cannot close our doors to the children.” —Joan Cary FROM TRASH TO CASH New Zealanders bring fundraising to a fashionable new level INNOVATION: TRASH FASHION // NEW ZEALAND Gwen Scrivner works in a store in Kaikoura, so she had ready access to loads of material for the Lions’ Trash to Fashion Show in New Zealand. “A lot of the packing tape and plastics were being thrown away. You can’t go wrong with plastic,” she says. Nor can you go wrong with a Lady Gaga look. “I saw a picture of her in one of her dresses. I thought, oh, I could try that. … Of course, hers is not made out of plastic. But it’s basically the same shape as hers.” Plastic from discarded CD cases provided a nice extra touch. “So that’s what I put on the front. It’s just a matter of a lot of hot glue,” she says. Scrivner strolled down the catwalk that year as did about 50 other contestants wearing outlandish costumes, made from trash. Some won and took home prize money. Some lost and took home memories. Nearly all were greeted with cheers or hollering or raucous laughter. Even better, Lions raised awareness of the need to recycle and generated thousands of dollars for local causes. Since 2000, the all-women Seward Kaikoura Lions Club has staged the wacky fundraiser. In the small, scenic coastal town of 2,000, the fundraiser has become an iconic event, rivaling in popularity the agricultural show and wine festival. Raiding their closets and shelves or the local recycling center, known, not quite affectionately, as “the dump,” residents spend months creating their costumes. “The rule is you use recycled materials or materials for which they were not original intended,” says Lion Julie Syme, who helped create the event. Some of the more memorable costumes include a coat made from Venetian blinds and a man dressed, not with actual armor, but with an ironing board on his back. “When he got to the end of the catwalk he actually took the ironing board off, put it out and started ironing,” says Syme admiringly. The competition is broken down into eight fanciful categories, which help spur creativity. Entering the Alien Alive category a few years ago, Doreen Tomlin saved the coffee containers and tea bags from the restaurant where she worked for the basic materials. But she wasn’t satisfied with it. Then a light bulb went off, or actually, they went on—the costume. “I’m thinking ‘Alien Alive?’ He’s got to sort of glow. And then I thought, well, why can’t I use the solar lights I have around at Christmas time? That made him be alive,” says Tomlin, a Lion. The New Zealanders are not above making fun of themselves. One of the categories a few years ago (the categories change each year) was Kiwi (fill in the blank). Melville Syme dressed himself in a messy, deranged costume. “I depicted an individual that had too much racing, too much beer and too much rugby. Here’s a crippled old gentleman, and he still goes to the races. And I hobbled down the stage,” he recalls. The all-male Kaikoura Lions Club built the catwalk for the women’s club. The men’s club, chartered in 1964, has 24 members. The women’s club, chartered in 1991, has 34 members. The trash fashion show grew out of the club’s bride show. “We asked ladies to make a wedding dress out of recycled materials, and there were more entries in that part of the entertainment than were in the competition of the brides,” says Syme. “So we thought, aha, we have a winner here.” The show is held every two years. A major earthquake struck Kaikoura in November 2016 (there was substantial damage and two deaths), and one of the categories for the competition in June is 80% Greaseproof Paper from the Train. Turns out the quake stranded a train loaded with greaseproof paper. The show is cosponsored by the recycling center, Innovative Waste Kaikoura. Thanks partly to the show, the recycling center is one of the best in the country, says Syme. Alas, the costumes for the show are so creative that they don’t get recycled. “We’ve got this museum in town. Some costumes are there,” says Tomlin. “Some are in the back of our garage. So much work and energy was put into them. My husband keeps saying, ‘What are you gonna do with all those?’ I don’t really feel like just putting them back in the recycling bin.” —Jay Copp GROW YOUR VEGETABLES! One community garden blossoms into a cutting-edge sustainability center INNOVATION: GARDEN TO SCHOOL LUNCH PROGRAM // MONTANA, USA “So what are you guys going to do with the zucchini?” “We’re going to cut them up and then … .” “Eat them.” “And then dehydrate them.” “Yeah, dehydrate them. “And then eat them again.” The middle schoolers show off the zucchini they’ve just helped to harvest, waving the vegetables through the cold air with one hand while keeping the other tucked into sweatshirt pockets. But the unseasonable cold isn’t dampening their enthusiasm. The girls are part of a Farm to School program started in 2011 by the Whitefish Lions Club. “We really wanted to have something that was more geared towards children,” says Greg Shaffer, one of the original club members behind the idea. While Montana has one of the lowest incidences of Type 2 diabetes in the nation, the Lions hope that by teaching kids the link between what they eat and where it comes from, they could foster a lifelong love of healthy eating. Plus, the school district was looking to get a locally sourced lunch program off the ground—something to help increase kids’ awareness of where their food came from and reduce the carbon footprint of food travel. It was a good project for the club. Shaffer’s employer donated a plot of land and the Lions got to work preparing the garden. Everyone pitched in. “You know, maybe some didn’t want to weed, but they could help mow,” says Shaffer. That first summer yielded several thousand pounds of fresh vegetables. Seven years and one location change later, the Farm to School Legacy Project continues to produce approximately 3,000 pounds of fresh produce that go directly into school lunches each harvest. More importantly, the program connects students to the foods they eat, introducing them to vegetables they may have never tried before, or helping them to see familiar ones in a new light. Ammann Koch-Ford is a senior at Whitefish High School. “As a little kid, you don’t like vegetables. But then you see how they grow, and you’re like, ‘Oh, I want to try that.’ And you try it, and you’re like, ‘Wow, this is really good.’ Like, a freshly grown carrot is amazing.” So amazing that students and teachers at the high school began raising money for a greenhouse so they could continue to enjoy the fresh fruits and vegetables year-round. Soon they had raised $70,000—enough for far more than the modest greenhouse they’d had in mind. Their fundraising efforts drew the attention of the community and led to a partnership with the Whitefish Community Foundation. Now, that original seed money has blossomed into a $2.1 million Center for Sustainability and Entrepreneurship (CSE). The CSE is a state-of-the-art, net zero facility that will include classrooms, laboratories, a greenhouse, energy systems, production gardens, orchards and an experimental forest. It will serve K-12 students as well as the community through adult learning classes. “It started out as just a little greenhouse that students could use to do some projects. And it has grown into an incredible instructional tool for our district,” says Lion Heather Davis Schmidt, the superintendent of the Whitefish School District. “When I became superintendent I didn’t realize the involvement that the Lions club had in the school district with the Farm to School garden. And so it was really neat to realize the close tie between the school district and the Lions club.” And the Lions aren’t done yet. “We’re working on getting a Leos club up and running at the high school that would be in conjunction with the program,” says Shaffer. “What we did was plant the seed with our garden. Now it’s branching off in all kinds of areas. Who knows where it’s going to end up.” Davis-Schmidt looks over the construction for the new center, which stands within eyesight of the Lions’ garden, where the middle schoolers are plucking and washing zucchinis, corn and potatoes alongside Lion volunteers. “We often talk in the school district about bringing the community into our schools, and our schools into the community,” she says. “And this is a perfect example of doing it.” —Erin Kasdin SHINING A LIGHT ON MELANOMA Taking cancer screenings on the road to save lives in remote areas INNOVATION: SKIN SCREENING VAN // AUSTRALIA In Western Australia, Sheila Howard is both a dedicated charter member of the Bunbury Lions and a thankful Lion beneficiary. In 2012 she was working at the Lions Cancer Institute’s mobile skin cancer screening van, where three people are screened for skin cancer every 10 minutes. When someone didn’t show up for their appointment, she chose to be screened. The Institute chairman, Past District Governor Colin Beauchamp, handled that, and it was then that Howard learned the black spot on the bottom of her foot was not what her doctor dismissed as a blister and bruise. It was melanoma, the most aggressive form of skin cancer. Howard, a competitive cyclist who recently completed a triathlon at age 77, was referred for an urgent further evaluation and treatment. “I’m one of the lucky ones,” she says six years after that fateful day. “I caught it in time. I had to have some toes removed. I’ve had quite a few operations. … I’ve had chemo. But I’m feeling good now. I keep very active.” Howard’s battle with skin cancer is not a unique story in Australia, where the incidence of skin cancer is the highest in the world. Fortunately for Howard and the approximate 50,000 others who are screened for free in Western Australia each year, the Lions have two skin cancer screening vans now—one in Western Australia and one in South Australia. The original mobile screening unit with three private screening booths took to the road in Western Australia in 2005, thanks to a $50,000 grant from LCIF and the support of Australian Lions. The newest unit traveling South Australia is supported by a $75,000 grant from LCIF, plus generous donations from clubs. This innovative endeavor, bringing awareness and screenings to remote areas of the country, was originated by a group of Lions and led by Beauchamp, whose passion stems from personal sadness. He lost a 24-year-old friend to melanoma in 1990. “He was far too young,” he says. “Sue [Beauchamp’s wife and also a Lion] and I realized there was nothing being done that looked at skin cancer in Australia. Melanomas are curable if diagnosed early, but people have to have access to screenings.” These screeners are all volunteers, doctors, nurses and plastic surgeons as well as Lions who have passed a 40-hour dermoscopy course. The massive self-contained van where they work in West Australia is towed by a truck and stops in 50 to 60 locations a year with about 100 free screenings conducted at each location. Local Lions clubs spread the word and schedule the appointments that fill rapidly. Many times they are forced to turn people away. Beauchamp points out that one day’s work can make a difference in more lives than just those who have been screened. Catching the cancer early also spares their loved ones the trauma that might have followed. In Kimberley, the team screened 1,872 people and found that 47 percent had never been screened before; 351 people were referred and 331 of those had possibly life-threatening lesions. Unfortunately, seven percent of those who were referred will not follow up with treatment, Beauchamp says. “They’re afraid. People still fearfully avoid treatment although we know that melanoma is curable if caught early on.” But fortunately, awareness is increasing, and screenings reach remote parts of the country that were never served like this before. Beauchamp is also frequently asked why there aren’t mobile skin cancer screening units in other countries. Lions from other states and countries, he says, are starting to ask how it’s done. —Joan Cary MAKING SERVICE MOBILE AND GLOBAL Introducing the revolutionary MyLion™ app INNOVATION: CUSTOM APP FOR MEMBERS // THE WORLD Today’s Lions are on the move. You stay connected to work, family and friends with your mobile phone. Now you can stay connected to all-things Lion with the MyLion mobile app. Instantly connect and serve with your club—or any club in the world—with this innovative app. Organize your service activities and share the results. Start the next great service project and invite Lions from all over the world. View an event’s RSVP list to see who is attending and who was invited. Post comments or photos from an activity. It’s real-time Lion news! Louis Lambe, president of the Harrison Lions Club in New Jersey, attended the launch of the app at the International Convention in Chicago last July. “I was so excited to get the app,” he says. “It’s the perfect tool for Lions everywhere, and makes communicating so much easier and more effective than texting or e-mail. It’s great for setting up events, too. I share all of our club’s service projects on the app, and we get terrific ideas from other clubs about the projects they’re working on.” MyLion is the most transformative member experience ever offered in Lions history, according to Patrick Rodwell, head of Digital Marketing and Marketing Operation at Lions Clubs International. “And this is only the beginning. MyLion is currently live in five regions,” he says, adding that it will be reaching even more in the coming months. “It’s exciting to see that there are already more than 5,000 service projects on the app that Lions can view and participate in. And we’re getting great feedback, which will help us continue to enhance the MyLion experience.” “There are significant benefits to using MyLion,” says Jeffrey Friedman, 1st vice district governor of District A 711 and a member of the Mississauga Central Lions Club in Ontario, Canada. “You can follow clubs and individuals anywhere in the world and see what activities they’re doing. My favorite is finding people who are doing projects that may fit the challenges I find in my district. This gives me ideas on how to attract members of my community to join me in service and provides us with more opportunities to show and tell what Lions do. And then we can ask, ‘Will you help?’” Every new member who joins the Denver Iowa Lions Club downloads the app. “It’s just how we do things at our club,” explains Bruce Piehl, the club’s president. “The app is a great tool for new members as it helps them experience Lions more completely. I’m currently following 120 Lions and have made a lot of friends with people on the other side of the world. What’s really neat, too, is, at the end of each activity we can rate it, and get feedback from others. MyLion helps you better prepare yourself for service.” Acquiring new members and attracting younger ones are goals to which all clubs aspire. Lion Linda Finley of the Peoria Sunset Lions Club in Arizona believes that the MyLion app will help toward these efforts. “Younger members want to serve,” she says, “but they want to connect with projects on their phones. Once young people get a worldwide perspective of Lions and see the difference they’re making in peoples’ lives, they’re going to want to be a part of it.” Lions have been paying it forward for a long time, Finley adds. “The MyLion app allows us to share our success stories in the field with the whole world.” Get ready to experience an exciting new world of Lions service. Revolutionize your Lions experience—download the app today at mylion.org. —Madeleine Miller 5 WAYS TO INNOVATE YOUR SERVICE These great resources can help you discover new approaches to local issues. MyLion™: Download the revolutionary app that streamlines service and improves your club’s network and visibility. // mylion.org The Global Action Team: Get the support and resources to take your leadership, membership and service to the next level. // lionsclubs.org/globalaction Engaging Youth: Invite young people to serve with your club to get fresh ideas and more help for service. LCIF Grants: Learn how LCIF grants can support life-changing service projects in your district. // lcif.org/grants Partnerships: Download the revolutionary app that streamlines service and improves your club’s network and visibility.
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