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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

The Lion’s roar to life

November 13, 2013
The Lions club operates in over 300 countries across the globe.

Even before the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new Ontario campus on Oct. 24th, there was the launch of something else pretty exciting on campus. Thirty students from almost every program joined the newly formed SJVC Ontario Lion’s Branch Club on campus. Four SJVC staff and faculty joined the parent club.

The nearly 100-year old service club is a volunteer-driven organization devoted to community service and humanitarian needs. Lions Club International is the largest service organization in the world, installed in 300 countries and with 1.3 million members world-wide.

In more recent years the Lions Club has been installed on many two and four-year college campuses. Because SJVC’s accelerated education programs offer students an A.S. degree in fewer than 2-years, it was a challenge for SJVC students to form a Lions Club.

But, SJVC’s Debi Nichols, Division Manager and Andrea Busby, MA instructor, members of Ontario Host Lions Club, were determined to bring the club to SJVC’s Ontario campus as a ‘Branch Club’.

“Sherrill Hein (Ontario Campus Director) and Richard Matley (Academic Dean) loved the idea and encouraged us to go forward,” says Debi Nichols. So they went to work with Sheila Casteel, their club’s District Governor, and found a way to make it happen.

“Our campus club acts as an extension of our Ontario Lions Club,” says Debi Nichols. “SJVC needed a ‘parent club’ to act as liaison to the campus club in order for SJVC to qualify.”

The idea caught fire with students and membership expanded overnight. Dental Hygiene student, Britney Fisk says, “I joined so that I could learn what Lions Club does and how I can help my community.”

The SJVC Ontario Lions Branch Club will have many opportunities to serve their community, while learning how to conduct meetings, organize events, and develop leadership skills. Student members will attend twice-monthly meetings. They will elect a President, Treasurer and Secretary and learn meeting protocol. A Lions Club member liaison will always be present to guide progress, stir enthusiasm and observe process.

“It is a great way for them to learn about philanthropy, about giving back,” says Debi. “I want to sit in the back and let them take charge; let them grow and develop as leaders.

The tremendous opportunity isn’t lost on student members. “I am really looking forward to being part of projects that help my community and give me a way to teach my kids about giving back,” says Jessica Pinedo, Respiratory Therapy student.

The parent club pays each student member’s annual dues for which student members commit to performing at least 20-hours of community service. Lions Club events for which they can volunteer include an annual golf tournament, Christmas baskets (last year 180 baskets were assembled and given to local churches for distribution) and various fundraising activities.

Student members will also be charged with finding needs within their own communities for volunteer opportunities.

CAMA student, Alex Rodriguez says, “I joined because it looks like fun and it will look good on my resume.”

“The Lions Club doesn’t have to be a group just for older, wealthier, retired or volunteer business people,” says Debi. “With young blood comes muscle, strength, stamina, energy and fresh ideas – and we now have 30 new members to bring that to our club.”

The Ontario campus is embracing an idea that they hope will spread to every SJVC campus up and down California and to the benefit of the communities each serves. The prototype is in motion.