Fellow Lions, Lioness and Leos:
A Greek philosopher once wrote that great enterprises begin with small opportunities.
That sounds good, doesn’t it? But you know what? I don’t think it’s true. Great enterprises don’t begin with small opportunities. They begin with great opportunities. It’s just that great opportunities sometimes have a way of looking small. Every one of us has been given a great opportunity: the opportunity that came in the form of a lion saying, “I’d like to invite you to a meeting of my Lions club.” It might have seemed like a small opportunity at the time. But for whatever reasons, for each of us, it also seemed like a good idea: an interesting chance to meet some good people, and do some good work, and have some fun along the way. Looking back on that now, I think every one of us recognises the opportunity to serve through Lions for what it truly is: not a small opportunity, but a great one — the great opportunity that led all of us to the great enterprise that is The Association of Lions Clubs International.
Each one of us has been given the opportunity to serve in Lions. What we do with that opportunity, that’s up to each of us. But the decisions we make — they won’t end with us. The effects of our work, our decisions, will ripple out all over the world to people we’ll never meet but whose lives Lions will change
My friends, we are entering into historic times. We know that we need to change and become more flexible so that Lions service will be attractive to younger members and recent retirees and working people. We know that Lions needs to be relevant in our second century of service, and because of this, we are entering into the most progressive year in our organisation’s history. Clubs have the opportunity to be who they want to be but at the same time remain true to our core. We need clubs that can not only attract new members but engage them in Lions service: clubs that are welcoming and active, that truly follow our motto “We Serve”. This is still very much the reason people come to Lions today: to find people who share their values. People who believe in honesty, diversity, tolerance, friendship, and peace. People who believe that serving humanity is the best thing they can do with their time on this earth. Whether we’re reading to schoolchildren or building a clinic or fighting childhood cancer, even as we change and adapt and move forward, the essence of who we are and what makes a Lion doesn’t change. And we still believe, as Melvin Jones believed, that serving humanity is the most worthwhile thing any one of us can do with our lives.
We are doing so much incredible work already, but we could be doing so much more. We need more willing hands, more caring hearts. Everything you do matters, especially to the people you help and the people you love, in this generation and the next. Every good work you do in your life makes the world better for all those we serve. That is the responsibility that each one of us accepted when we accepted the privilege of wearing a Lions pin.
To serve humanity — as much as we can, as well as we can. To change as many lives as we can. Not alone. Not as individuals. But together — as a team — through Lions Service.
PDG Elvio Munzone