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In an earlier edition of The Weekly Leader, I noted “Before you assist others, always put your oxygen mask on first.”

I believe we are better able to help others when we ourselves are strong and stable. If we take care of our own house and simply do the things we know we should do, then we will strengthen our community.

The COVID-19 virus has all of us concerned and brings with it issues and problems we have not encountered before, as individuals and as Lions Clubs. It is our nature to serve, and we feel somewhat in a quandary about doing this or even how to do this.

On September 11, 2001, I personally experienced the attack on the World Trade Centers as I lived directly across the street from the towers. I experienced not knowing where I was going to sleep that first night and subsequent nights. Everything I had was in my apartment and everyone, including first responders, were confused and at a loss as to what to do first. Almost immediately Manhattan was shut down with no one being allowed in or out. I went to hotel to hotel until I finally found a room. Communication was no where close to what we have today. In fact, the news crawl we are so aware of today began to be used in earnest. On one day, we were allowed to go to our apartment for five minutes to gather out pets and medicine; when I arrived I was accosted by a looter. It was 45 days before we were allowed to return home.

I rarely share this story. I do so now to let you all know we can come back stronger from disasters and set backs. I share this story for another reason as well.

The first place we should look to serve is our own clubs and our own members. This is not being selfish. Many clubs have members who are in the vulnerable populations for the virus. Consider doing something like Harbor Mesa Lion Laura Bejerano who is offering to run errands, do grocery shopping, and pick up medicines for those in her club who may need help. Call each of your members and find out how they are doing and ask if they need help.

Be aware that many people are being laid off, losing their jobs, or will be otherwise be economically impacted by the actions taken to respond to the virus. Some folks need child care as their children will not be attending school. Have your club consider suspending dues for these members and coming up with a group of people who can provide child care.

Consider putting a COVID-19 task force together like Seal Beach Lions have done. This group is looking at what events they need to cancel or postpone, as well as how they should respond as a club. Can your club do something similar? Can your club provide needed supplies to members and the community?

It is times such as this when we need to look in a mirror and see the large group of dedicated Lions along side us. We need to remember as leaders, Club Officers and District Officers, it is not about us. Whatever we choose to do, let’s choose to do it safely and within the guidelines official sources are providing (BTW Facebook is not an official source). Let’s focus ourselves on what we can do to be the servant leaders and servant volunteers we are.

Let’s be sure to put on our oxygen mask first.

– District Governor Mark Piva

Post Series: Message From the District Governor
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