Lions Clubs and COVID

Lions Clubs and COVID – 7 November 2020

No doubt, the 2020, Year of COVID, has had a huge impact on the day to day operations of Lions Clubs.

Nearly all clubs were affected by COVID and the Lockdown.

Fund raising: Due to the shutdown, Bunnings BBQs, markets, raffles in hotels and any other fund raising which involved the public was stopped.

Digital fundraising would be the only creative way of raising money but with businesses closing and families losing jobs, even this suffered.

Service work, with COVID and the age of club members, clubs had to cease their activities or think creatively how they could help – PPE, masks, sanitizer became the club opportunities throughout the world. But Lions clubs will adapt to the new community ideas after COVID.

Where possible, funds were donated or sought from clubs, LCIF, LCI to aid the community and families with food banks as an example.

Meetings. again, with the age of members and locations where clubs met, these stopped rather suddenly. With the unknowns, clubs went totally locked down and meeting places were closed. And in some cases, clubs still have not been back to their meeting places, alternative arrangements have been made as the freeing up of restrictions have taken place.

As the time went by, the clubs looked at various ways to communicate with members and digital/phone communications came to the fore. This was extremely important to maintain the Lions Clubs and the integrity of the clubs. Several clubs had members who suffered from the COVID and in some cases died from it or are now suffering from the consequences from the virus.

Currently, limited opportunities for fundraising and service are depended on the government, businesses and clubs having COVID plans.

The resilience of the Lions Clubs is phenomenal and as the pandemic slowly recedes we will see the Lions Clubs re-emerge as there will be an increasing need for their service within their communities.

There are many words that come to mind when we think about 2020:

Toilet paper; social distancing; masks; staying home; QR Codes; washing your hands; lockdown; unprecedented times; Zoom; working from home. The list could go on…

Without a doubt it’s been a challenging year for all, and a year of many ‘firsts’ for Lions. Many clubs held meetings online for the first time. For some, it may have been their first time using video conferencing technology like Zoom. Our Council of Governors also held their first ever meeting via Zoom, and we conducted our first online/postal vote.

This was the first time in our history that we have had to cancel a Multiple District Convention; a sad circumstance for the hard-working Adelaide Convention Committee and the incoming and outgoing Council.

As the pandemic increased in seriousness across Australia and we went into various stages of lockdown, our clubs were faced with the fact that many, if not all, of their activities were put on hold.

Despite the challenging and ever-changing circumstances, our clubs remained resilient and determined to continue serving their communities. Clubs rallied together to support our frontline hospital workers, providing meals, sewing masks and generally caring about their wellbeing. We continued to support vulnerable citizens within our communities – delivering groceries to those not able to visit the shops, reaching out to residents of aged-care facilities and providing care packages to families in hotel quarantine. These are just some examples of the incredible acts of service our members have achieved this year.

In those parts of Australia still recovering from the bushfire devastation of Summer 2019/2020, our clubs have continued to play an important role in helping them rebuild and recover.

Clubs were forced to think creatively when it came to fundraising. Some held online raffles and art shows, others held socially-distanced versions of their usual activities.

2020 had more surprises in store when the Lions Australia National Office in Newcastle was damaged by a fire in July. We are grateful to our members and of course our staff for their patience and understanding as we navigated our move to a temporary location and subsequent move back to our ‘home’.

At the tail-end of 2020, we were pleased that some of our club activities were able to resume. A highlight was Lap the Map for Diabetes – with clubs and community members across Australia helping us achieve a combined distance of over 190,000kms (approximately seven times the circumference of Australia). Congratulations to all involved!

The past year has reinforced our belief that as an organisation we can grow, change and respond to any challenge thrown at us, and this is something of which all Lions should be very proud.