Champions of Change: Lions Clubs International

Uploaded by whitehouse on 04.10.2012

Moderator Eric: We are hoping that first maybe each of you can just
give everybody here in the room, and also watching,
a little description for a couple of minutes about some
of your activities and what's happening in your club and in
your community.
So maybe we can just go right down the row.
Doug Rodenbeck: Okay.
My name is Doug Rodenbeck, and I was the Indiana State Leo
chairman, and also I'm currently a member of the International
Leo advisory panel.
Our big project in the Leos was the burn suites, the family
suites, which we built at the St. Joe regional medical center.
The Leos found out that there was a great need for a place of
refuge for people who had family members in critical condition in
the burn unit.
The galvanizing story for that was there was a teenage boy who
was there for 72 days.
And he was in a medically-induced coma
for a lot of that time.
And the family of course didn't want to leave his bedside.
Generally, the family members don't want to when they are that
bad off.
They don't want to go blocks away at a hotel in case
something might change.
So, the problem, one of the problems that occurred with that
was that his younger brother ended up sleeping on the floor
next to his brother's bed.
And that kind of made people start to think, gee, maybe we
ought to have a place of refuge for these people, a place where
they could be right near them.
So we talked about converting an area in the hospital that would
have some sleeping rooms, living area, kitchen area, laundry
facility, and a business area.
And I asked the Leos if they wanted to lead the fundraising
drive on that.
And they immediately took out, went all over the State of
Indiana making presentations, and we ended up in a year
and-a-half raising $170,000 for that project and it has been
successfully operating for the last year and-a-half.
And to give you an idea of how that impacts people, we had one
letter of thank you from a lady whose husband was
in the burn unit.
And the thank you simply said, I don't have an address anymore,
our house blew up.
Thank you for letting me stay there.
Moderator Eric: Wow.
Mr. Buscemi.
Mike Buscemi: Yes. Thank you, Eric.
Excuse me, I'm caring a sore throat today.
But I really don't want to pass up this opportunity because it's
kind of a rarefied air when I think of champions sitting up
here and I look out at the people I know in this audience.
It is truly a two-way mirror.
And this is really, really an opportunity I think for us to
celebrate together the enormous and incredible work of Lions on
the national and international scale.
So, thank you very much.
I'm honored and I'm humbled and really delighted to be part of
this group.
Multiple District 13K is a very typical,
very typical multiple district.
We are involved in most of those things that really relate to our
everyday living in communities in Ohio, very involved in youth
work, not only Lions Quest, Project Good.
We have a youth camp.
We're involved in disaster relief and we're very diligent
about that.
I happen to be just coincidently involved in Thornville Lions
Club which is the best club in the district which is the best
district in the state, which happens to be the best district
in the country.
So it's very coincidental in deed.
In terms of researching youth, again, it just blows my mind
and always has.
I've wanted to be a teacher since I was in the fifth grade
and I even wanted to be more involved in youth work since I
taught emotionally delinquent youth at the 7th grade level.
I was in a classroom that had a red telephone next to my desk
because these kids were so distressed, so distraught,
so unleveled in terms of their living style at age 13 and 14
that it was incomprehensible.
So we knew something had to be done in terms of dealing with
kids like this at every level.
So my involvement in Lion's Quest started in 1982.
And as a recovering teacher I just couldn't be prouder.
Today I'm proud to say we have reached since 1982 because of
your work, I've been a very, very, small cog in this very,
very big wheel, trust me.
But we have reached this, grasped this in excess of 12
million students and still are, with the skills, and the tools,
and the attitude to make positive healthy decisions.
So when you read the paper and you hear about the 25%, don't
forget the 75% that you're reaching every day doing the
hard work through programs likely Lions Quest in the
school system, 74 countries, 35 languages, with half a
million teachers in every country, almost every country
doing our work.
So thank you, again.
Debbie Whittlesey: I'm Debbie.
I guess you figured that out right now.
Probably the scariest thing I've ever experienced was being a
seated district governor and a disaster right at the end of my
year, a 14-mile long EF-5 tornado coming through,
basically my backyard.
The tremendous stress that that caused, wondering what to do,
what are we going to do?
Immediately I had over 200 phone calls from you all,
from the Lions.
I shouldn't have been surprised.
Lions were rushing in with phone calls, money, requests to help
in any way they saw possible.
And that's just what Lions do across the world.
And we had immediate access within 24 hours.
Less than 24 hours we knew we had $10,000 coming from LCIF,
so we were able to immediately mobilize and create energy packs
with energy drinks.
We had energy bars, trail mix, things with substance.
We knew we were in excessive heat.
The people were going through trying to find something that
belonged to them that was precious that may be they did
not lose in the tornado.
The Lions, we went out into the area.
We brought those much needed supplies along with leather
gloves, sunscreen, anything we could think of that we thought
would be handy or helpful to the people in the area.
Having the money available like that to get to our neighbors was
extremely important.
There were seven of our own Lions in Joplin that lost
their homes.
And so, I do have to brag on those Lions.
Some of those Lions that lost their homes were there at the
Lions Club grilling hamburgers with us and taking food out to
those devastated.
One of the things that I'm most proud of is our partnership with
the first response team of America.
Through that partnership, the Lions, all of us, were able to
turn about $70,000 into a million dollars worth of
clean-up for free for people of the Joplin, Missouri.
They knew the Lions were there.
We are still there today.
A project we are working on right now, Irving Elementary
is going to be built at the place of the hospital site.
And it's our goal as Lions, or it's my goal, I think we're
going to do this.
I see Lions, they are given a challenge and they meet, not
only meet it, they exceed it.
We were supposed to plant a million trees, we planted 15
million trees.
Lions are going to plant trees on Irving Elementary.
Every tree there, that's going to be about 25,000 to do that.
We've already got 10,000.
So almost a year and-a-half later Lions, we're still there,
we're still working hard, and I couldn't be more proud to be
here today representing all of you.
Nadine Nishioka: Hello. Or, aloha!
Moderator Eric: Aloha!
Nadine Nishioka: I'm Nadine Nishioka.
I am from the Honolulu Manoa Waioli Lions Club.
And I just honestly have to say that I alone am not the champion
of environment.
If it were not for the Lions of Hawaii, there would be no
champion of the environment.
Because someone asked me the other day, do you have
environmental problems in Hawaii.
Well, if you don't notice it that means the Lions of Hawaii
are doing a fantastic job.
So I just have to give kudos to the Lions of Hawaii, all of us.
At this time actually I would like to share with you that the
Lions of Hawaii do other things, because I will definitely talk
about environment.
But this week in Hawaii right now we have something going on
called SOS week.
And it's called seven days of service.
And I'm actually the chair of that week, this week.
And it started Sunday.
So I've been on the phone back and forth saying -- they are
like, let it go, you're fine, we're doing fine.
And I truly believe they are carrying on.
This past Sunday we had a Lions foundation walk,
over 300 people, and every island we had to walk.
And what's special, and I want to share this with all of you,
what's special about that is that the money raised goes for
vision and hearing screenings for the State of Hawaii.
The state no longer does vision and hearing screenings for
school children because they have no funding.
So Lions have stepped up to the plate, so to speak.
And we perform as many vision and hearing screens as we can
throughout the state.
And we have on-site Lions who are optometrists and
audiologists, who are there to get professional opinions.
And I want to share a personal story with you which gives you a
lot of insight to the great job all of us do as Lions.
I went to a hearing screening and there's this one young girl,
she was standing in a corner by herself.
And I asked the teachers why is she there by herself?
And they said well, she's a special-ed student, so she
doesn't really participate in a lot of these other things.
She gets excited.
So I said well, you know, she should participate as a member
of the student body.
So they would talk to her and they ignored her.
And then I heard her humming a Japanese song.
So I went up to her and I spoke to her in Japanese.
And she looked at me and I could tell she was watching my lips.
And so she would turn away.
But then I would touch her and speak to her in Japanese again,
and she would look at my lips.
So I brought her over to the hearing testing area and I put
earphones on her.
And you know what happened?
She's hearing impaired.
She's not special-ed.
So to this day she is using hearing aids and she's among her
peers at the elementary school.
And Lions did that.
So I'm very proud of that.
I just wanted to share that with you because all over the world
we're doing a lot of good.
And I would definitely talk about how Lions are saving the
environment in Hawaii.
Thank you.
Laura Rieg: Hello, I'm Laura Rieg.
I'm really nervous.
I'm an early childhood special education teacher
from Portsmouth, Virginia.
Can you hear me better?
Our club is Portsmouth Children's First Lions Club.
And it's a little different from other clubs because all of us,
all of our members are intimately involved with
working with children with special needs.
So we have speech pathologists, psychologists.
My principal at Olive Branch Preschool is a member.
A social worker, teachers, and assistant teachers.
We all work together to meet the needs of the children at
our four preschool centers.
And because we have Lions at each school it helps us to be
aware of what the needs are, so we can be responsive to
those needs.
So we have provided glasses, hearing AIDS, adaptive equipment
for playgrounds, and we even sponsored an Eagle Scout who
built adaptive playground for two and three year olds with
special needs.
But our newest project is the one that we're most excited
about, and that one is concerning literacy and
language development.
And what we want to do is, we have partnered with a local
shelter in Portsmouth and we're working with another agency that
works with early childhood families in their home.
And we're providing books for them and also language
extension activities.
So we're teaching the parents how to be teachers, and raising
their confidence in teaching their children to not only enjoy
books, but to foster language development as a whole.
So that when they come to preschool they are prepared
and ready.
Moderator Eric: Well, I know everybody in this room is not
surprised by these stories because we know that while
these are particularly special champions of change, we all know
that this goes on around the world every day with every club,
with all the Lions Club members.
And I hope folks watching will learn a lot about what this
amazing organization does.
So hopefully we'll have a little bit of time to talk about it.
I was hoping to ask each panelist a little bit more
about some of the things they mentioned.
And then if we have time, maybe talk a little bit more generally
about things like service and volunteerism.
Doug, when you were describing your programs and everything,
you mentioned something called Leo Clubs.
And I know the many people here know what they are, but I was
hoping you could describe a little bit more what is Leo
Club as opposed to Lions Club.
And how does it fit into the whole service ethic
of the organization.
Doug Rodenbeck: Certainly.
Leos are a project of Lions Clubs International.
Leos range in age from, well, the alpha Leos are from 12 to
18, and then the omega Leos are from 18 to 30.
And it's an outreach program to encourage and promote and
educate young people around the world in community service.
And, we do that by offering them opportunities.
The first opportunity would be the name recognition and
credibility of Lions Clubs International.
Allows them to accomplish whatever they would like for
the good of their community.
I tell them this is your magic wand.
It's your ability to change your community for the better as you
would like to do it.
Also, the resources of Lions can become a big project.
We had one club, the Portage Middle School club which is
sponsored by my club, Anthony Wayne Lions, they were going to
hold a chicken barbeque.
And unfortunately, it rained on that day.
And the advisor called up and said, the faculty advisor, and
said what am I going to do?
And I said no problem, I happen to know that your sponsoring
club has a tent.
And they made one call, the club came out and put up a tent.
And it enabled them to raise $3,500 for their school which
was the largest fundraiser that that junior high school had ever
had, according to the principal.
Moderator Eric: Fantastic. Fantastic.
Mike, you also mentioned a term that maybe not everyone who's
watching would be familiar with, because you mentioned,
Lion's Quest.
And so, could you describe that a little bit and how that fits
into the overall initiatives that you guys are doing in your
-- was it MD 13k.
Mike Buscemi: MD 13, right.
Lions Quest, not dissimilar to Doug's project, it is a project
of Lions Club International.
Started in 1984, it was a project of the board of
trustees, at that time of Lions, a very, very firm decision to
become intricately involved in the drug prevention issue,
in this country particularly and worldwide eventually.
And it really approached the issue of drug prevention from
a holistic perspective, which you would certainly understand,
Eric, in your work.
But the determination was made.
And the reason it's lasted 30 years, that drug prevention in
and of itself is not the issue.
It's not drugs per se.
It's not violence.
It's not bullying.
It's a people problem.
And if programs were going to be integrated into the school, they
need to be people savvy.
And so we worked with the W.K.
Kellogg Foundation, the Lions Clubs International Foundation,
Reader's Digest Association, and developed a program that was
really built on the soldiers of research at that time.
It's a K-12 curriculum that relies heavily on integrating
the community, the parents, and the school because research is
so firm about that.
And that program was so desperately needed it became
national within 6 months, international within 12 months.
And basically because the needs of kids are universal.
You don't separate a child's head from a child's heart.
And unless you really approach the issues of children
holistically, you're really not going to have much luck.
Bullying approached at the 7th grade level is going to be less
than effective, drug prevention, et cetera.
So Lions Quest has really become a very, very successful product
of what we know works in best practice.
And it's attracted the acclaim and the attention of most
federal and most international organizations at this point.
Moderator Eric: Fantastic.
Mike Buscemi: Yes.
Moderator Eric: Thank you very much.
Debbie, I was hoping we could learn from you because, you
know, you described the incredible outpouring of energy
and effort to help the people after the tornado.
Once the cameras leave and the immediate crisis is gone, then
sometimes things sort of start to fade away a little bit.
Could you give all of us some lessons learned and tips about
how you maintain the effort and things?
Because we know that, you know, it may be a year and a half ago,
but there's still lots of things, as you describe one
example, lots of things that need to be done.
What are the ways to really keep the momentum going?
Debbie Whittlesey: Well, I think I'm glad you asked that question because
we're already, all of us Lions, we're already there.
We're already in position.
You know, when something like this happens in our communities,
we're already home.
And this is our family.
And it's very easy to keep the momentum because we truly care
about the people that are affected.
Lions generally are very compassionate people.
And we don't walk away because we're already home.
So it's easy to continue.
Moderator Eric: Fantastic.
So Nadine, you alluded to all your work involving
the environment.
So can you now sort of describe what you all have been doing and
why it's important?
Nadine Nishioka: Absolutely. Right.
Well, as you all know, I'm sure all of you have been to Hawaii
or would like to come to Hawaii.
2015! 2015!
So in the environment -- as you all know, Hawaii is
a beautiful place.
And the viability of our state depends on the environment;
our beaches, our mountains, our valleys, everything.
And what we like to do as a state, Lions, is help to
keep it beautiful.
And one of the projects that we work on is called
No Dumping in Drains.
And that is because, if you dump in your drains, it leads
to the ocean.
It goes into the streams, the rivers, the canals,
directly into our ocean.
If our ocean is not beautiful, the tourists and visitors and
even locals will not go.
And there goes the viability of our state.
So Lions come together.
And the city does not have the resources to do it all.
There's literally thousands of drains.
So Lions get together and we do a block or two of drains on any
given day.
And it's a great time for fellowship.
We have people coming out of their homes, other organizations
coming out.
And we actually get people who want to donate money to help
because they tell us, you know, we were wondering who was going
to step up and help us do this.
Because we do not only stencil drains.
On the same day, we do painting over of graffiti.
So we cover a lot of things, not only natural environment
but environmentally friendly to your eyes.
So if there's graffiti, we paint it over.
And we clean stream beds.
We clean whatever it takes to make the environment beautiful,
both with your eyes and in our ocean so that you can visit us
and always remember a beautiful Hawaii because the Lions of
Hawaii are helping to save the environment.
Moderator Eric: Thank you very much.
So Laura, you don't have to be nervous, because you did a great
job in your introduction.
And maybe you could describe in a little greater detail --
you talked about adaptive equipment and things like that.
Can you describe a little bit more what that is and
why it's needed?
Laura Rieg: Well, playgrounds need to fit the children that
are meant to play on them.
And two and three year olds are much smaller than, you know, a
ten year old or a four year old.
But they also have different sensory needs.
For example, children with autism sometimes benefit from
bouncing or jumping.
So we purchased a trampoline with padding around the sides so
it's safe for them in there.
Or things that swing back and forth are really calming and
good for them.
Moderator Eric: Fantastic.
So as luck would have it, this morning I was at another event
in Washington where they brought together youth from
all over the world.
And they're there to talk about their projects and service and
things that they're trying to do to better the community.
And you see the energy and the entrepreneurialism of
those folks.
You all have years and years of experience.
And I was hoping that I could toss one question and maybe you
all could speak to it.
It's two parts.
One is how do you encourage people to service?
I mean, they have a lot of choices in their lives.
And people are really, really busy.
But what are some of the ways that you encourage
people to service?
And what do people most frequently say the rewards
are from that?
So that's one.
And then the second is, as they get involved then in service,
what are some of the lessons learned about what works and
what doesn't?
Because some people get discouraged frankly.
And they may not necessarily see results right then and there.
And what are some of the lessons learned to keep the momentum
going and encouraging and achieving change the way all
of you have with your clubs and everybody else here in
the audience?
So maybe if we just go down the row.
And starting with Doug, you could speak to those two things.
Doug Rodenbeck: That's a good question for me because,
ironically -- I told you I'm the state Leo Chairman from Indiana
-- or was up until this last month.
And I got into that because I was encouraged by another
champion of change who will be on the next panel, Greg Jeffrey.
And he arranged to send me to a conference which was, again,
ironically at the very place where we had our reception the
other night where this conference was held.
And the main thing I learned at that conference -- it was a
conference on how to run successful organizations.
And it was cosponsored by the Lions.
And the main thing that they said in that was that successful
programs are run by people who are enthusiastic about their
program and show it.
You've got to live it, breathe it.
You've got to accept it in your heart.
And I found that that works in the Leo Program.
And I've used that model, and it's been very successful
for us.
As far as keeping people enthused,
success breeds success.
I have one Leo club that is made up entirely of blind students.
And in addition to going all around the state -- they have
their own van, and they'll go anywhere in the state and make
presentations for you.
And in addition to that, they've raised $12,000 in one year for
cancer research.
And every one of those students is blind.
I've got another -- the Sharing Hearts Leo Club, their annual
Christmas project alone is between 8 and $12,000 every
year, just on that one project.
Moderator Eric: Fantastic.
Doug Rodenbeck: Success breeds success.
Moderator Eric: Okay. Thank you.
Mike, your thoughts?
Mike Buscemi: There's certainly a lot of study on that today.
And the field of service learning as it's called is
pretty robust.
And there are a set of disciplines that students can
be taught and should be taught.
I think two quick answers though to your question,
one is modeling.
I think Doug is sort of referring to that in some ways,
that unless they see their peers, their parents, their
brothers and their sisters honoring the ethic of service,
they're less likely to be involved.
And certainly, the earlier the better.
But in terms of Lions Quest, there's a very, very specific
response to that.
And that is we begin early to make young people comfortable
with themselves, learn the art and the skills of empathy, social
responsibility, personal responsibility, communication,
and then to see a picture bigger than themselves.
There's a lot of exciting research that shows that young
people in the middle, high school level who get involved
in something bigger than themselves, nursing or teaching
or doing some shadowing of professions, are much more
likely to be involved.
They get better grades.
Oftentimes they go into that profession.
Oftentimes service becomes part of their life.
And, of course, that's what we're hoping for in Lions, that
they see that vision early and often.
So it can be taught.
It's not magical.
And experience and doing it again and again, I think, is
part of that for me.
We see that.
And it's -- today there's a workshop, two workshops, going
on in New York City, The Lions Quest, the largest school
district in our country.
And they're committed to that.
All the problems they have, they see the young people committing
to service as one of the ways out of it.
So it's exciting stuff.
Moderator Eric: Fantastic.
Debbie, your thoughts?
Debbie Whittlesey: Probably telling our stories, the individual people and lives
that we touch.
We all have stories.
And just like the older gentleman that walked to the
Lions Club building and he and his wife were living in
someone's garage and they had been eating out of a can.
They had no car.
Their home was completely gone.
But he walked down to the Lions Club building
to get a hamburger.
And he was too exhausted from the heat.
And driving him -- I've never given anybody a ride in my life,
but I did that day.
I gave him a ride down to the home where he and his
wife were staying.
And him breaking down in my seat and weeping, sobbing, asking me
to tell the Lions that that hamburger meant
everything to him.
The individual stories.
The fellow that came into my office two weeks ago that was
getting ready to have a baby and he was looking for a Lion.
He was blind in one eye and very, very low vision
in the other.
We were able to get him a pair of eyeglasses quickly.
So last Tuesday, when his baby was born, he was able
to see his baby.
We tell the stories, the individual stories.
That's what attracts people.
And then we engage them and involve them in our projects.
And they want to be a part of what we've got already.
Moderator Eric: Fantastic. Fantastic.
Nadine, your thoughts?
Nadine Nishioka: Well, I think, first of all, when, you know,
you want people to serve, you have to remember that
they're all volunteers.
And you have to respect them as volunteers, even as Lions.
So I really do think that service begins at home in
your own club.
If you can't get members of your own club to serve, it would be
really difficult to get members outside in the community to
follow your lead because, as has been mentioned, you should lead
by example.
So in our clubs back in Hawaii, what we do is we find things
that members are passionate about.
And they in turn will get other people passionate in
the community to serve.
And we do things in the parks.
We pour concrete, and we lay sod, where it's necessary build
gardens, because there's a dirt pathway between two gyms and it
was awful to look at.
It wasn't environmentally friendly.
So we have members in our club who raise flowers.
And so we said, would you like to lead making a garden?
And these were members who maybe weren't as active but all of a
sudden became active, brought in new members because now they
found a passion.
So I think when you talk about service, you need to talk about
things that you yourself can relate to, something that you
are passionate about and something that you believe in.
And when I say believe in, I not only believe that we only think
about Lions and only Lions.
I think that we should respect other organizations and work
alongside other organizations.
In Hawaii, we work alongside the Hawaii Red Cross with
their Hats Off.
It's part of our Seven Days of Service, by helping the food
bank, et cetera.
And it ends this week, Saturday, with a statewide food drive.
Last year, we raised over $6,000 and almost 10,000
pounds of food statewide.
And we're working on that again come this Saturday statewide.
So I think if you can get your own members to serve with pride,
the community can rally around you and also serve with pride.
Moderator Eric: Thank you, Nadine.
And Laura?
Laura Rieg: Well, as I mentioned, our club members are
all educators, so we have a vested interest in the success
of students.
But there's a critical period between birth and three years
old for brain development.
And if we get them at three, we're getting to the end of
that window of opportunity.
So our members wanted to go the next step and say, okay, well,
how can we reach the children before they ever come to school?
Because it really does need to start before they're even born.
And that's what we want to teach young mothers, is to talk with
their children.
Talk with them when they're in the grocery store and getting
apples and say, well, what kind of apples should we get?
Red, yellow, green?
And how many?
And talk to your infant child who's not going to respond and
tell you what color, but just to build that language base and to
help the children.
Maybe they wouldn't qualify for special education services in
the first place if they have that background, because really,
it's 97% of the children who qualify for early childhood
special ed services are because they have a language delay.
And a language delay affects all other areas of development.
Moderator Eric: Fantastic. Thank you.
So I want to make sure that we leave time for the next panel.
But you know, picking up on something that Mike said,
he was talking about modeling.
And I think also people were talking about telling stories.
And you all kindly shared the stories of your work and that of
your districts and your clubs.
And I think that's part of the reason why President Obama and
Mrs. Obama are so enthusiastic about trying to do events
like these.
Because really, you are modeling, not only for Lions
Club but you're really modeling for everybody in the United
States about how we as citizens can help each other.
And these are just amazing stories and service and
reaching out to others.
So I would just like to salute all of you and your clubs and
your members for everything that you're doing, that you're
modeling, and for sharing your stories with everybody in the
room and those watching through the internet, all the wonderful
things that you're doing.
So thank you very, very much.