Lions District 59 hosted the Second International Vice President James E. "Jim" Ervin for a visit to the country of Belize which lasted from December 6th to the 9th. Lion Ervin traveled to different areas of Belize to visit with the five existing Lions Clubs in the country. On Monday, December 8th, Lion Ervin visited San Pedro and was welcomed by a group of excited Lions Club members.
At about 8:30 p.m. on Monday evening a special dinner was held in Lion Ervin's honor at the Lions Den. Master of ceremonies, Lion Angel Nuñez welcomed the attendees, the Belize National Anthem was sung and an invocation followed by Lion Abel Guererro. The welcome address was delivered by San Pedro Lions Club President Alfredo "Alfredito" Alamilla. Lion Angel recited a history of Lion Ervin's achievements before Lion Ervin addressed the club. Second Vice President Ervin said that it was a "real pleasure to be in paradise" and expressed gratitude for being invited. He congratulated the Lions on their successes and on providing the community with the center of attraction, the Lions Den. He encouraged the Lions Club to look back on their past accomplishments with pride and to embrace the new millennium with a stronger sense of humanity. He reviewed the projects and deeds carried out by Lions International; these deeds included the establishment of "First Sight" a fund set up to assist the blind and visually impaired, building 44 hospitals for the blind and providing cataract surgery for over 1 million people. Lion Ervin concluded by saying that there are three ships that the Lions should sail off into the new millennium. "The first is Membership. You must give people the choice that you were given. Give them the choice to decide whether or not they want to be a part of your Lions Club....The second is Leadership. You must find a way to develop quality leadership on every level. You must practice leadership qualities on an every day basis and not just in the Club....And third you must Fellowship. We should enjoy each other's company and get to know each other. Sure it is good to serve but we must enjoy what we do. Learn more about each other and their families and how you can serve one another." He thanked the Club once again for inviting him to see their beautiful country and said, "It is not what you know about Lionism or leadership or serving humanity...it is what you do that makes the difference."
An answer - question period followed and questions were asked about what the Club could do to increase membership. The most important and most emotional question of the evening was whether or not Lions International would disenfranchise Lions District 59. Belize had 15 Clubs at one time but now there are only 5 and there has not been an improvement or membership increase in two years. Lion Ervin said that the Club was informed by the International president that they had until the year 2000 to improve their membership or they would be penalized. He also said that he personally felt that they were paying too much attention to the structure of the Club and not about the good the Club is providing to the community. He said that they should set their priorities and work towards improvement.
District 59 Secretary Beto Marin gave the vote of thanks and the attendees sang the Lions Club theme song. "Tail Twister" Wil Alamilla collected donations to feed his very hungry and new Lions "piggy-bank." A dinner followed and music was provided by Lichi's Box.
On Tuesday morning, December 9th, Lion Ervin toured San Pedro High, the Lions Clinic, Hol Chan Marine Reserve and other facilities before leaving the island on Tuesday afternoon.
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