I am writing this from Hamburg, Germany following a very interesting and exciting convention. Donna and I stayed a few extra days to do a little sightseeing. The convention began on Saturday morning with a huge parade of Lions and Leos from all over the world. There were about 10,000 Lions and Leos in the parade with another 10,000 lining the streets. All of the participants were dressed in their Country colors or the uniform for the State or club from which they came. It was a very colorful and entertaining activity that lasted about 4 hours. If you ever get a chance to go to an International convention, make sure you take in the parade. That evening we attended a special International program entitled “Up with People”. This is a song and dance group of 20 young folks (age 17-25) from many different countries. Again if you get a chance to see this group, make sure you take advantage of the opportunity.
The opening general session was highlighted by a key note address by Laura Bush. She told us about the family and thanked the Lions for all that they do around the world. She talked at some length about the importance of literacy for children and adults. The second general session was dedicated to what the Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) has done and continues to do around the world. Past President Tam commented on the help that LCIF provided the tornado victims in Moore, Oklahoma. He also commented on the Measles Initiative that the Lions undertook in cooperation with the Gates Foundation. The Lions raised $17.5 and this was matched by another $8.75 by the Gates Foundation. Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands made a great presentation on literacy and on the Lions Reading Action Program. She has been actively engaged in her literacy agenda for years. She commended the Lions for initiating the Reading Action Program last year and now extending the program for another 10 years. Following that the CEO of the Special Olympics Program highlighted the great efforts that have been done by that organization. Yao Ming, the 7’ 6” basketball player, now a special ambassador for the Special Olympics made an appeal to the Lions to continue their partnership and support of this group. The great things that are done by the LCIF are made possible by donations to the LCIF by Lions through Melvin Jones Fellowships and contributions from individuals and corporate sponsors. During the session an owner of a company in Korea, his wife a Lion member, made a $5 million USA contribution to LCIF.
The highlight of the last general session was an appearance by Andrea Bocelli, who received the Humanitarian Award from the Lions Club International. Of course, he did a couple of songs for the Lions. The remainder of the session was devoted to the introduction of the next International President Barry Palmer, from Australia. Mr. Palmer is a very energetic and personable person and I believe will make an excellent leader and goodwill ambassador for the Lions. His theme for the year is to Follow Your Dream and he outlined his program for the year. President Barry’s dream is to increase the number of women in Lions for 25% to 30 % by July 2014. He has challenged all Lions dream what you would like to accomplish for the next year and then act upon your dream. With your assistance, District 31F will have a great year as we follow our motto “WE SERVE”.
District Governor Vince.