The 98th Convention of Lions Clubs International just concluded in Honolulu, Hawaii where over 18,000 Lions came together to celebrate their pride in serving those in need. Kathy and I felt right at home when the local committee arrived with this bus to “personally” transport us to the hotel.
The centennial theme—Where there’s a need, there’s a Lion—brought to the forefront the mission that unites 1.4 million Lions around the world.
In addition, the delegates elected officers and new board members. Elected as President is Dr. Jitsuhiro Yamada from Japan, along with 1st Vice President Bob Corlew of Tennessee and 2nd Vice President Naresh Aggarwal from India.
In addition, 17 new first year directors were elected, seven of which are from the United States. At the end of the convention, we thanked our mentors ID Mike and Linda Molenda as they left the board; and welcomed our new proteges–ID Dick and Grace Liebno from Maryland to the board.
The timing of the convention comes at the mid-point of our term, as we now become 2nd year directors.
I was so pleased to be selected by Dr. Yamada as chair of the 2015-2016 Public Relations and Information Committee.We oversee the PR and marketing strategies used to promote the Centennial, are developing a strategy for transitioning to an electronic-based format for The Lion magazine, and coordinate the communication going out to local clubs around the world.
Our final board meeting of 2014-2015 was led by President Joe Preston. President Joe is a person who lives the phrase, “you’ll never know until you’ve tried!” He introduced many initiatives to strengthen the Lions’ organization.
The Board and Lions from Arizona started the Preston Family Scholarship at Arizona State University—his alma mater—to honor his leadership this year.
A convention highlight was the international parade of nations. What a spectacle!
The North Dakota, South Dakota, Saskatchewan Lions were #44 in a parade of nearly 150 entries. It was a hot day, but nothing is more fun that walking in a parade, smiling and waving at friendly faces.
The plenary sessions were fast-paced and interesting. The first session began with a rendition of The Lion King and the songs I used as part of my message to conventions we visited this year were featured.
Tim Shriver, chairman of Special Olympics since 1996 was the keynote speaker. His message focused on what it means to be fully alive—the title of his new book—and he challenged us to rethink what it means for us, and all people to live life to the fullest.
We had an opportunity to meet him and he gave us a signed copy of his book.
There were luaus and special events and receptions that enabled us to meet Lions from around the world.
As an international family of current and past directors and officers, our circle of friends has grown.
The second featured speaker was Carolyn Miles, CEO of Save the Children, recipient of the Lions Humanitarian Award for its work with refugee children in war-torn Syria. This year, Dr. Yamada is emphasizing the need to provide assistance to children as part of his international theme: Dignity. Harmony. Humanity.
Kathy had a terrific time! She swam with the dolphins,
hiked to the top of Diamond Head (as did I!),
posed for a “surfing” photo, swam in the ocean,
and toured the Bishop Museum, to name a few of the different experiences she had.
At the conclusion of the convention, we proceeded to the first board meeting for our new President, Dr. Yamada. This meeting was very ceremonial and formal, as he was introduced and entered the room to take his position as President. The certificates of election were distributed, along with new International Director pins.
Then came two speeches—one given by a 2nd year director leaving the board, and one given by a 1st year director in response—to bring the meeting to a close. ID Steve Tremaroli was chosen by IP Joe Preston to speak for the 2nd years, and Dr. Yamada selected me to speak in response. As you can imagine, I was honored to represent my class of directors.
It seems like only yesterday that we were walking across the stage in Toronto, ready to take our place on the board.
Today, we are looking forward to continuing our journey. Tim Shriver wrote about what it means to be “truly alive.” For me, having the opportunity to serve on the international board with such wonderful people and to meet and serve the Lions of the world and those in need is a gift I will always cherish.We look forward to making many more friends across the country and around the world this year. Thanks to those who contributed photos to our collection from Honolulu. We wish the very best to all who serve.
–ID Robert Littlefield