It is easy to think of the Santa Monica Lions Club as a community service club, but it is so much more than that. This past weekend we held our 61st annual pancake breakfast to raise money to support local nonprofit service and vision-related organizations. The attendance keeps growing each year as new people discover the breakfast and longtime supporters return each year. Some have been attending for more than 40 years.

But not all attendees were local. Lions from other clubs throughout the Southland came to support us as well. We had Lions from five other clubs in the Los Angeles area, including as far away as Norwalk. They come each year to eat pancakes and share the morning with us, but more importantly to support communities outside their own. We all work together to restore vision, fight illiteracy, plant trees and build leaders in Southern California while making some incredible friends.

However, on a national level the true essence of being a Lion becomes more evident. Every city, town and rural area is represented and their service is a diverse as its membership. It is easy to become focused on what your club does, isolating yourself from the vast and varied impact the Lions have across the county.

I attended a USA/Canada leadership conference in Grand Rapids two weeks ago and learned of a club in a remote tourist center that built a helipad to help evacuate injured hikers to the nearest hospital more than two hours away; another club volunteered time to help a widow paint and landscape her home which had gone into disrepair without her husband; as part of another town’s revitalization project, the Lions built a park in hopes of attracting more families to the area; and yet another provides college scholarships to their high school seniors in hopes of getting more students to go to college. In every case the Lions have assessed what was needed and helped to make their community stronger and a better place.

The Santa Monica Lions are an integral part of the Lions fellowship around the world. We are dedicated to helping Santa Monica, but also to helping people across the U.S. and around the world have a better life through helping youth, providing heath services, relieving hunger and protecting our environment.

If you want to learn more about being a Lion, join us for any of our monthly volunteer projects that are posted on Facebook or call Susan at (310) 623-4499.

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