<b>Lions Who Play Together … Stay Together</b> It’s no secret that people will keep coming back to a place where they have fun. When your clubhouse or meeting is that place, you’ve set your club up to retain and engage your members and even attract some new faces. Just ask the Ottawa Lions Club in Illinois. The club now has 70 members, an increase from 28. Zone Chairman Craig Emmett said the gain can be attributed at least in part to the establishment of a game night at their clubhouse. “Once the economy started going bad, we started a fun night,” Emmett said. “We started getting 30, 40 people coming in to play euchre, bags, poker, Monopoly and chess. When we got the people in there we started talking about the Lions club.” Emmett said they open the doors of their clubhouse about once per week, usually on a Wednesday. People stream in from 7 p.m. to midnight and will play any number of different games, depending on what people are interested in that night. “We charged admission of $5 for non-members. People were starting to think, ‘I could come 12 times and pay for my dues,’” Emmett said. “A lot of the people got in just because of that, but they’re all staying.” Emmett said the club added at least 10 to 15 members in their 20s as a result of the efforts. Club President Jane Billings said the fun atmosphere has attracted many new Lions. “You become friends before you become Lions,” Billings said. “You get interaction with other people. One member might bring a guest and that person experiences a great night.” Billings said the fun events and evenings add energy to the group dynamic, as well as offer a casual venue to discuss upcoming projects or recent accomplishments. “We’re good at heart and that’s what we’re trying to work at,” Billings said. “[Lions] get exposed to a really good atmosphere and it gets them excited.” This atmosphere and enthusiasm for volunteering keeps Billings coming back. Diagnosed with terminal breast cancer, Billings said she wanted to live her life in fast forward by becoming the club’s president. “It’s all in what’s important to you. I’ve always been a volunteer, so to remain a volunteer and make my mark while I’m here is important to me,” Billings said. “I don’t think people should waste their time and sit idle. Retirement may never get here.”
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