Lions Learning Retreat, January 13-15, 2012.


Club Secretary’s personal  observations after attending the 9th Annual Lions Learning Retreat held on January 13th, in Manchester, TN with Lions Paul Easlic and Sterling Winn.

Although I can’t possibly tell you everything I learned I can tell you this – it gave us a chance to stand back and see the big picture. A tremendous benefit that comes from participating in Learning Seminars, Conventions, and District and State service projects is the interaction with great Lions who are challenged with the same obstacles we have to deal with and discover what they’re doing about them.  Let me give you a couple of examples:

Soon you’re going to be hearing about a Vision Van. What is a vision van? This is something that came up in one of the seminars – the Goals and Vision Seminar. It’s something Past District Governors’ Wendy Cain, Jim McFarland and Dave Crawford and others have been working on for several months. It’s a fully equipped mobile van that will be used to provide eye exams and actually make new glasses for qualified, indigent citizens in one day’s time; it will have the capacity to serve several hundred people a day. It was donated to District 12-N by Remote Area Medical and is being refurbished so that hopefully it will be on display in its renewed embodiment at the District Convention in in February. Bottom line it will allow people to be examined, receive a prescription and obtain a new pair of glasses in one visit for about half of what it costs now (at least that’s the plan). Who knows, someday maybe we’ll have a Vision Van right here in Johnson City.

In another seminar I learned about something the Lafayette Club is doing to build membership called a membership dinner. The model for this comes from a club in Michigan and it has proven to be amazingly effective here in east Tennessee. The Lafayette Club has been doing this for four years with  increasing success each year. The last dinner they held was attended by 14 guests and ALL FOURTEEN signed up for membership and paid their dues for the first 6 months at the dinner.

Here’s why I bring up these two examples. Like all clubs we have to deal with roadblocks to achieving goals and in the process we sometimes can get bogged with the negatives. We can use these two examples which I wouldn’t have known anything about if I hadn’t been fortunate to attend this district 12-N event.

Melvin Jones was a visionary but if he had been the only one Lionism, which is the largest service organization in the world today, would have been still born in 1917. Back in 1946 somebody had a vision for this club and they continue to bless our organization. Being a Lion isn’t for everyone and everyone that becomes a Lion will not be a visionary. Some won’t be leaders and that’s OK because the right percentage will be if, and this is a big and important if, if we ask the right people to join us – not just one person and not just one time but many right people as often as necessary.

let’s follow the Nike imperative and “just do it”.

Anyone reading this who is not a Lion but would like to explore becoming one please call or write me (423-943-6756)




John Merriss

January 15th, 2012

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