Charter Night: Celebrating Lionism

“Charter Night” is the annual gathering (usually an evening/dinner event) when and where a Lions club celebrates its founding and work.

I belong to a club in my community. Here’s a little something about my humble club, one of 46,000 in more than 200 countries around the world.

51 years.  FIFTY ONE YEARS. We’ve been around quite a while.


The Cupertino DeAnza Lions Club was established in 1969. 


Since that time and to this day, the primary focus of our club has been service. The primary draw of our club for new members has been service. The hook that keeps us all going is service.


And the bonus, the icing on the cake for all these years of service, what has it been?


It’s been the fellowship, the friendships that we have established and strengthened and enjoyed these many years; that fellowship has sustained us and energized us and resulted in service projects and charity work attending to those in need both near and far for decades.

These dual traits are the essence of Lionism:  Serving those in need, and enjoying fellowship along the way. 


As we celebrate and continue the work of the DeAnza Lions, let us keep these twin goals in mind, and also the wise words of our current International President, Dr. Jung-Yul Choi framed in the initiatives he defined this year.

President Choi’s programs and initiatives will focus on four key elements of Lions International that are essential to our mission of service.

  1. Strengthening membership through diversity
  2. Expanding service impact globally
  3. Supporting our global foundation, LCIF
  4. Empowering every Lion as a leader

Let us continue. Let us build on that motto established more than one hundred years ago when Lionism was first established:

WE SERVE.

Remember Me Out of Love

This refrain from Psalm 105 stands out for me this weekend. It’s from one of the Saturday readings.

In one of the loaves and fishes stories from Sunday, the motivation is similar: act out of love. Fundamentally, that’s what Jesus taught us. Act out of love.

Elsewhere in his teachings he boiled all the laws down to two basic rules: Love God. Love one another.

Let love guide all your actions and you’ll make the right decisions each time. Every time.

It’s not always easy, of course. Sometimes love is difficult to follow. But it’s always worth it. Always.

The Day After

The day after big events tends to be an experience unto itself. No different for our DeAnza Lions Charity Crab Feed.

Up late the night before, leaving the hall close to Midnight, it’s up the next morning to gather and clean all the pots and pans and mats and such.

The fellowship continues this second day. We gather at one of our members’ house to power wash and reorganize and reload. Only a handful show up. It’s a lot of work.

Four hours later, we’re done. Our storage space looks revamped; better organized; refreshed.

I grab a ride home with one of the guys after returning the box truck. We agree it was a successful event; we’ll see what the numbers say. One thing for sure:

All for the greater good. All to serve others.

The Lion Motto rings true: We Serve.

Finding Ways to Serve

The event gathers some 500 people to eat crab, enjoy music and fellowship too. It’s a great event.

On Saturday, the Eighth of February, the Lions club I belong to has it’s 24th Charity Crab Feed, to raise money for our club’s charity work.

It also takes a BUNCH of hours to produce. Some 30-40 people volunteer their time that day/evening to put the event on — and a smaller leader group puts in tens of hours prior planning, making arrangements, etc. for the actual event day.

It all comes down to service: how can we Lions raise money for the charity work that needs support; how can we engage our community to for awareness; what can we do to serve those in need and make it enjoyable along the way.

This Charity Crab Feed does the job. My gratitude and admiration to my fellow Lions who started this project nearly a quarter century ago, ten years before I became a Lion. My gratitude to those who support the event. My gratitude to all our Lions and Friends of Lions who do the work to make it happen.

Anatomy of a Crab Feed follows, images from the prep, from the day, from the clean-up.

LIONS. WE SERVE.

Lion Mike, Lions All, We Serve

The Monday before Thanksgiving our local Lions club delivered holiday dinner, plus extra food staples, for 170 plus families in need in our community.

The majority of our members, along with some awesome “civilian” volunteers, turn out over the three days prior to do with work planning, setting up at the grocery stores where we ask for food donations, collect the food, transport, sort, and then deliver the meals to five distribution points.

A lot of people come together to make the event a success. We rent a big delivery truck with cold storage, a couple trailers…it’s quite a production for our little group.

One guy in particular who shows up is Lion Mike. Here’s why I mention him specifically.

He moved out to Nevada a year or so back. That’s about 250 miles away. He comes down for the weekend to drive the refrigerator truck (with ~ 36’ length storage area) on the delivery day, maneuvering highways, surface streets, and parking lots, etc.

This sort of giving of one’s self, that’s the essence of Lionism. Sacrificing one’s own comfort to help others in need. Lion Mike, Lions all, living by a simple credo: We Serve.

Let this attitude that guides and motivates us during the holidays also light the way each and every day, as we continue on this season, and into the new year.

Let’s be like my man, Mike, and all my Lion brothers and sisters: Do what you can when given the chance. GOOD.

Guest Post: Brother Tim, Witness Work In Kolkata

It’s the evening in Kolkata 🇮🇳 while most of America 🇺🇸 sleeps. I’m trying to process another epic day on top of every other epic day serving the sickest of the poorest of the poor of the harsh streets of Kolkata.

Most of you know I can muster words for just about anything. However, this vexing yet holy place is different, far different than anything I could ever explain. The magnitude of physical and emotional suffering are hard to believe even though I am witnessing it firsthand on a daily basis

A splendid and heroic French nurse, probably in her early 60’s, gently approached me this morning while I was helping one of the several young heroic Indian doctors in the men’s infirmary. She said, “It’s quite difficult isn’t it?” I said, “Oui, Madame, it’s very difficult. I described this place as a ‘poverty war zone’ to my wife.” She replied, “I think it’s worse than a war zone.” (And, she surely knows because she has undoubtedly served in other hard places in this often cruel world.) She then placed her angelic hand with the greatest of care and strength on my left shoulder and looked kindly into my eyes. We both had tears welling up as she returned to her patient with the worm infested foot that was missing most of every toe.

Heartened and renewed by her truly Marian love, I redoubled my focus on “Saladine,” a handsome yet aged man of the streets. He looked my age which means he was probably 10 to 15 years younger because Kolkata laid bare does that to street people. Brutally short, my dear sweet new Indian friend had NO SKIN covering 98% of his emaciated left leg when the blood soaked bandages were removed. (Imagine Saint Bartholomew.) Saladine did not cry out in pain during this torturous treatment and everyone would have understood if he did. His physical pain and emotional anguish were exponentially pronounced because he looked up to me throughout with deep brotherly longing as manly tears quietly dripped from his eyes. So, I did my humble best as a newfound anesthesiologist of Jesus Christ to mitigate his suffering with brotherly love in my eyes, a manly hold of his left hand and the gentle yet strong caress of his weary head with my sometimes quivering right hand.

When the amazing young Indian doctor had cleaned Saladine’s entire left leg of the scourge he could and bandaged it fully for the X number of days straight, we helped this dear sweet broken brother sit up ever so gently as we tried to bestow dignity on him. Saladine made a deep and beautiful prayer gesture to me noting his warm gratitude. He then wrapped his weary arms around me and wept, and wept, and wept. It took every ounce of strength I had as a Kolkata-tested man to be strong for him then. Thankfully, tears are finally streaming down my face now thereby helping clear my heartbroken multi-hour daze.

I pray for you from Kolkata. Please, oh please, pray for these destitute yet majestic Indian people I am so privileged to serve.

God woke me early today, so I arrived early at the Missionaries of Charity Home of Nirmal Hriday (“Pure Heart”). The Sisters call it “Mother’s first love” since it was her very first home in Kolkata 🇮🇳. It’s the very home for the dying destitute that vaulted the 80 to 90 pound Saint to the world stage. Mother Teresa never sought world acclaim yet she still virtuously used it to promote God’s Absolute Truths, particularly the sanctity of life from womb to death. Thanks be to God. Thanks for her witness!!

After a brief visit that I’ll describe later, I went to the men’s infirmary and immediately beheld why God woke me early. On the lone medical procedure table was my new treasured friend from yesterday, dear Saladine. He was laying there. His skinless leg was in full horrific view. Of course, he was grimacing because even the small oscillating fan harshly agitated every exposed nerve on his left leg. When he saw me, he reached out to me and lovingly cried “Baba,” an Indian term of endearment.(Geez, I love this beautiful broken soul!!) I scurried over to him as his eyes teared anew as if my arrival had just answered his prayers. He called me “Baba” again, then made a reverent clasping off his hands in prayer. So I pulled out my Holy Rosary like yesterday, starting praying over him and he warmly smiled though his persistent grimaces. (Let’s pause for a second one. Look down at your left leg and picture it without skin. Let’s try to fathom how excruciatingly painful that must feel. 🤯🤬😭) Saladine, stud that he is, never cried out loud. He suffered with the most heroic heartbroken silence I have ever beheld. Every time he called me “Baba” I felt the total enormity and warmth of truly unconditional love and trust.

After we had tended to Saladine, my other wonderful friend Baakraan appeared to have his dressings changed. I cannot recall if I previously shared about Baakraan, my dear Muslim friend. In short, the multiple large leg gashes that he has on both his legs are incomprehensible. I can see his right calf muscle. I can see the tendons behind his right kneecap. The bottom of his left kneecap is slightly visible through his deep open wound quite similar to Jesus Christ on the Holy Cross. There’s more physical horro for Baakraan, but I’ll stop there. I have been blessed to help the doctors clean and redress Baakraan’s full length lower leg bandages a few days now. The beautiful Sisters and equally heroic medical staff know to have me involved when it’s Baakraan’s turn in the infirmary due to miraculous brotherly bond. Heck, even Baakraan called me “Baba” today and I had to hold back tears when he did. The TRUE UNCONDITIONAL LOVE of this vexing yet holy place is surely a taste of the Kingdom of Heaven. Thank you, Saint Teresa of the Kolkata Gutters for calling me here!!!!!!!

After Baakraan was fully bandaged, the young staff rolled in “Mishnu.” That’s what I call my favorite Bengali. Surely Mishnu must know I don’t speak Bengali by now. But he still insists on saying the most amazing happy Bengali stuff to me that I will ever hear. My man Mishnu is pure joy in all his brokenness. The guy lights up when he sees me and starts jabbering with so much joy I’m tearing up as I type this. But Mishnu is from the unforgiving streets of Kolkata. He’s abjectly destitute. He’s riddled with infection. His right foot only has a big toe. The rest of his foot must have been chewed up and the fog by an Indian “land shark” 🦈. That’s how horrible it looks. Amazingly though (and I’m now chuckling with immense admiration), in between Mishnu’s rightful grimaces due to his ghastly mangled foot, he joyfully tells me what can only be his Bengali life story. I wish I could take video of these joyful outbursts, so you could see the miraculous nature of it. Geez, Kolkata is a such a conundrum.

Mishnu also called me “Baba” today which also welled tears in my eyes. A few of the other men I served today did so as well. It’s as if they collectively assessed me through the week to determine whether or not I warranted such respect and affection. It’s arguably one of the most humbling experiences of my life to be so trusted by broken men who for any number of years have probably not trusted anyone. Mind you, I’m not their only “Baba.” There are more and certainly more worthy: Igor from Siberia 🇷🇺 who teaches anthropology in Germany 🇩🇪; Javier from Spain 🇪🇸 who is wiry and 💪🏻 but gentle as they come; the amazing Christian ✝️ men from China 🇨🇳; and Craig from New Zealand 🇳🇿 who’s come for 11 years straight for three to 6 months at a time. #LegendaryMen #SaintJosephs

God not only woke me early today, He blessed me with His amazing and miraculous Peace. I had calm, serenity, and solace today that has been tough to find, let alone secure and embed my week here. When I walked into Mother’s original house today, I was warmly greeted by the legendary Sister Gina who now occupies Mother Teresa’s original desk. She was with the young Indian doctor that I have often assisted in the men’s infirmary, the MASH Unit for the Kolkata poverty war zone. We had a beautiful, heartwarming exchange that only lasted minutes but will be with me forever. It made seeing Saladine‘s raw left leg so manageable and his cry of “Baba” so much more wonderful. Thanks be to God. Thanks be to Saint Mother Teresa. Thanks to be all the heroes that serve at her 50 homes. Blessed are the poor for the Kingdom of God is rightfully and deservedly theirs.

Grounded in Service

What should I do next? Often the answer is, “How can I help?”

When in doubt, help someone out. Wash the dishes; switch the laundry; pick up the living room;

bring a treat to work; make dinner; send a nice note to someone you haven’t reached out to lately; call an old friend; call a new friend; hold the door open for someone; be the first to say “Hello”.

The basic idea is the same in all these instances: be pleasant, be helpful, lend a hand, serve others.

That’s a good way to live. That’s good every day. I say, you can’t go wrong with this approach.

I belong to a local Lions club (one of 46,000 clubs around the world). The Lion Motto is simple: We Serve.

Lion or not, that’s the right answer.

Stay grounded in service.