“A bend in the road is not the end of the road, unless you fail to make the turn.” This is a quote credited to Helen Keller, among several others throughout history. It makes no difference who first said it; it only makes a difference if you believe it, I believe it, and we all as a group believe it.
This year has the wonderful opportunity to turn our district into a community service superpower. We each have a role to play, just like the protagonistic robot leader on the kids movie, “find a need, fill a need!” We are so very blessed to be here, in the Lions Clubs, at this particular period of time. We can, and will, make a huge movement for the good of our local, district, and state communities this year, and for many years to come.
It was just over two years ago when I became District Governor for the first time. Now, due to circumstances as they are, I am returning for the last time that I, and anyone else, will be able to become a DG more than once. It seemed that the world ended up like the boat we were on when it capsized during the storm; confusing, scary, and a lot of chaos. I changed my direction and goals at the last moment and started asking clubs to “just do something” to stay relevant. You responded, many of you responded like the true heroes you are. You delivered food and supplies to shut-ins that were too sacred or worried to leave their home; you ran fundraisers with multiple stages that raised money but kept safe separation between others, and you retained your Lions’ Spirit through it all.
Today, I thank PDG Randy Oxendine for his leadership over the last year as we have come out of the Covid Chaos, and I look forward with exuberance at the possibilities of the next year. I have set several goals that will challenge the best among you, but they are reachable and will make us into a powerhouse of a district. First, we have announced a contest for membership driven Lions. If any Lion sponsors three new members during my term as DG, I will invite you and your spouse to a dinner at the Angus Barn (if a small group), or (better yet) a night of celebration at our house (with a chef and bartender coming in to cook in front of everyone.) We need to get above 1250 member to be able to sponsor another International Director, and we have some great member in our district that deserve the chance to run that race.
Second, I have set the goal of one hundred twenty dollars for Brighter Visions for each member of our district. Brighter Visions has suffered under Covid and we need to replenish it. I have also asked each club to hold an individual fundraiser just to benefit Brighter Visions on top of your individual goal. Here in Wendell, we are holding a benefit concert just for Brighter Visions and we are setting our goal high because the money is sorely needed.
Third, I returned just recently from a tour of Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute with Gwen, Rhett, and several big wigs from the greater DC area district. There are things being worked on in their labs that are incredible and too much to write here. The director there says he needs money to develop the technology that will virtually eliminate blindness. I spoke to the VDGs of N and S, and we have come up with a goal to raise one million one dollar bills for clinical eye research. If we can cure blindness, let’s do it sooner rather than later. You will be asked to set out jars and buckets to collect changes and single dollars that we will pile up and keep current with a picture online. I read where a Lions Club raised one million pennies for library books a few years back. I believe we can raise one million dollars for clinical eye research if we set our hearts and minds to it.
Lastly, let’s have fun and be happy. People are drawn to a group if they are happy and having fun. Fun comes from activities that bring you joy. Happiness is a state of mind. Make your goals to benefit those in need in and around our community, and let others know the happiness you receive from doing them. Ask for help in your activities, it is really easy, and everyone loves helping the community if they know it is something that you are doing. Let’s get started on a fantastic year!