Lions Clubs welcome new district officers, harbingers of change

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Lions Clubs International has done a lot of good in the world.

With a presence in 211 countries and more than 1.5 million members, it is not surprising that the Lions Club is one of the largest non-profit organizations in the world.

But the Lions of San Diego will tell you that they are only just awakening into their golden era. Change is running with the wind at its back, and the Lions are ready for it.

Lions Clubs International has done a lot of good in the world.

With a presence in 211 countries and more than 1.5 million members, it is not surprising that the Lions Club is one of the largest non-profit organizations in the world.

But the Lions of San Diego will tell you that they are only just awakening into their golden era. Change is running with the wind at its back, and the Lions are ready for it.

“Lions Club International has been in a very large change, it is turning that corner,” said Past International Director Bill Crawford at the annual district installation banquet, where more than 150 Lions were in attendance.

In both size and shape, Lions Clubs International is changing with the tides. One of the more notable ways, Crawford said, was in its growth of female leadership.

“When I was governor… there was no lady president,” said Crawford. “Every time you move, change is occurring rapidly. These folks need to take us in that area so we can be all the best that we can be.”

Past Council Chairperson David Radtke said the local San Diego Lions clubs in district 4-L6 have, historically, had very strong women leaders.

“The leadership history of L6 is well-respected and highly thought of,”said Radtke. “And as we celebrate our first female executive officer, I think it’s important that we recognize that L6 has been doing that for a long time with amazing female leadership. I’m proud to call a few of them my mentors.”

Among those strong women is the newly elected district governor Mercy Walters, a long-time Lion and a powerhouse in the world of community service.

Walters, facing a dazzling room of San Diego’s proudest Lions, who came out in their best evening attire to celebrate the induction of their new officers, challenged the clubs to raise their standards even higher.

“My fellow Lions, I ask you to work with me and with each other to do the things we have to do to make better the lives of the communities we serve,” she said. “As we move into our second century of service, we must take the opportunity to exceed all expectations and continue our journey of service into and beyond the horizon.”

And Lions are indeed making a difference in their communities. Radtke reported that, even during the banquet, Lions in district 4-L5 were helping battle the fires that have been raging across California.

“Lions are right there helping out,” said Radtke to assembled guests. “In L-5, they set up a rescue station and they’re working with first responders to provide food, water and shelter for animals that need to be taken care of.”

Radtke said the Lions Club has been a transformative force in the lives of people around the world as it fosters leadership and extends the hand of friendship.

That may be why Lions put such an emphasis on fun at their meetings and in their service. Crawford said you can tell the longevity of a Lions group by their meetings.

“If they’re not laughing and enjoying themselves, that group is not long for this world,” he said.

The installation of the district’s new officers, and there were many, from assistant district governors to the official tail twister, was an important event for the organization in as much as it highlighted the pride to which the Lions all belong.

“It’s important to take care of each other,” Radtke said. “We need to take care of ourselves, so we can go out into our communities and be better. There are no special resources needed to make a difference in somebody’s life. Be kind to each other. Be great.”

Being a Lionis a great source of pride, said Judge Peter Singer, a Lion with notably perfect attendance in his tenure, a epoch which he said now spans half his lifetime.

“Being a Lion is incredibly rewarding because we do for others,” said Singer. “Our mottois: We Serve – a very high calling in life.”

Service may be the only thing that will never change for the Lions.

Walters encouraged Lions of L6 to be steadfast in their commitment to the community.

“We need to maintain our dedication to service, reviving old traditions and starting new ones,” she said. “Yes, there are challenges, but there is also hope and promise for a better tomorrow, because in a world of service, there are Lions.”

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