Lions respond to lifestyle changes with 6 clubs
Lions Clubs New Zealand
4 March 2004
Lions respond to lifestyle changes with
six new Wellington-based clubs
Lions Clubs are responding to changes in people’s life styles and out-of-work commitments with a series of different approaches to clubs, including marae and workplace-based clubs.
Six new clubs are planned for the Wellington region including a corporate Pacific club, a club based in Kokiri Marae, Seaview, a club for Parliamentary staff, a campus club at the College of Education at Karori, a business club in Porirua and a club in Otaki according to Jimmy Ross from Lions Clubs International.
Mr Ross, an American who has been in Wellington for a week to help local Lions members with club recruitment and retention, praised the innovative local approach, which was helping reverse the trend for fewer people to join service clubs.
“Throughout the western world service clubs have been losing members as lifestyles become more busy and there is greater pressure on people’s time,” said Mr Ross.
“Given the contribution that Lions make in supporting a wide range of charities and community services, that loss potentially has a huge impact on the quality of life our cities, towns and small rural communities,” he said.
“As the world’s – and New Zealand’s - largest service club with over 1.3 million members internationally and more than 12,500 members nationally, Lions is determined to increase its membership so it can continue to provide the community services New Zealanders have come to rely on.”
Jimmy Ross said Lions membership in New Zealand had stabilised and the organisation was now looking for growth. To achieve that, Lions were looking at creating clubs that fitted people’s lifestyles and working habits, rather than asking people to change their routines to fit in with a more traditional club structure.
Lions District Governor for the Wellington area Alice McDonald, said there are still a lot of more traditional clubs around doing great work and the traditional structure works for many people, especially in smaller towns and rural areas.
“That’s great,” she said, “but not everybody works in the community in which they live or is able to devote large parts of their weekends to community service. That does not mean that they are less interested in putting something back into their communities or that they don’t want advantages of belonging to an organisation that will help them develop personally – it just means we have to find new ways for them to do these things.”
Part of the response is a range on new kinds of clubs based around existing communities of interest.
“The six new clubs planned for Wellington are part of that, but there are plenty of other examples over the past few years including a Parliamentarians Club just for MPs, New Century Clubs for younger adults, inner city business clubs and a very successful marae-based club.”
Jimmy Ross said that next year Lions will celebrate 50 years of service in New Zealand. “We’re determined it will be just as strong a force for good and community development for the next 50 years as it has since 1955,” he said.
About Lions Clubs in New Zealand
The first New Zealand Lions Club was formed in 1955 in Auckland. Now there are around 500 Clubs, and 12,700 members. Worldwide the International Association of Lions Clubs has a membership of over 1.3 million in 192 countries and geographical areas.
The emphasis is on community service in all forms. Lions programmes serve the young and the aged, the disabled and the disadvantaged - anybody who has a need. Programmes are conducted locally, nationally and internationally. They include sight conservation and work with the blind, citizenship services, hearing and speech action, programmes with the deaf, drug education, and environment, recreational, health and social services.
Lions' contributions to the development and care of New Zealand youth include living skills programmes, drug awareness, an international youth exchange programme, the national Young Speechmaker Contest and International Peace Poster Competition.
About Jimmy Ross
Jimmy M. Ross, of Quitaque, Texas, USA, served a two-year term as a director of The International Association of Lions Clubs 1996-1998. He was recently endorsed as the candidate for the position of Second Vice-President of the International Association and will be elected to that position later this year.
Jimmy Ross is a self-employed public relations practitioner and rancher and has served as a county judge and on the staff of the governor of Texas.
A member of the Quitaque Lions Club, Jimmy Ross has been a Lion since 1969. He has held a wide range of positions in Lions and is currently assisting clubs around the world with membership and extension.