Can you remember as a child how large numbers impressed you? A million of anything was hard to fathom. Did you know that the ancient Greeks and Romans did not even have a single-word equivalent for “million”? What could possibly exist in such a large quantity?
Yet we Lions know that a single act of service, one occasion of kindness, can change the world. We understand that service has a ripple effect. As the famed aviator Amelia Earhart said, “No kind action ever stops with itself. One kind action leads to another. Good example is followed. A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.”
So how much can we change the world if we serve 100 million people? We plan to find out by 2017. Our upcoming centennial is not only an occasion to celebrate our history but also to redouble our efforts. Yes, we’ll throw a grand party and eat some cake, but we’ll also set a very ambitious service goal: serve 100 million people.
I ask every club to take part in the Centennial Service Challenge. The challenge dovetails with our four Global Service Action Campaigns: Engaging Our Youth in August, Sharing the Vision in October, Relieving the Hunger in December/January and Protecting Our Environment in April. So the challenge is for Lions to help 25 million youths, provide vision services for 25 million, feed 25 million and benefit 25 million through environmental projects.
Your club can help us reach the goal through your service actions and then reporting them via the Service Activities Report on the online MyLCI system. We’ll recognize clubs and districts with banner patches. Donations to LCIF earmarked for sight, youth, the measles initiative and disaster relief will qualify for recognition.
Our centennial celebration will be grounded in service. But we also want Lions to understand and celebrate their heritage. Birthdays are like that–an occasion for looking back at where we came from and who we are and looking ahead at future growth and achievement. So let’s start lighting our birthday candles, truly lighting candles instead of cursing the darkness. When we finally blow out the candles at the end of our centennial celebration at the 2017 international convention in Chicago, I have no doubt our birthday wish to substantially improve the world will have come true.