The New Voices Team

    Joyce Middleton

    The Bridgewater Lions Club has been in the town where I was born since 1927. They were the group that ran the Halloween parade and party for all the children in town, and decorated our town common with lights at holiday time. They held the annual fishing derby, built access ramps, and gave educational scholarships. They held senior dinners, provided eye glasses, supported the public library, and funded eye research. They were, and are, a significant part of the fabric of my hometown.

    I sought to join the Lions club in 2002 with my husband, so that he could meet humanitarian, civic-minded people when we moved back to my hometown, where I knew plenty of people and he knew no one. Joining the Bridgewater Academy Lions (a converted Lioness club with a strong membership of 68) and the Bridgewater Lions was just what we were looking for – almost.

    I enjoyed my time with the Academy Lions, and learned a great deal from the amazing women in the club. A few years later, my husband and I set out to charter a new club, the Bridgewater Community Lions Club. We wanted to build a family club, where members could bring their children to meetings and do family-friendly projects together. I love that, in our town, there is a place for anyone to serve.

    My favorite service projects are always those that revolve around eyesight and youth. If I had to pick my favorite service project, it would have to be the Youth Camp & Exchange program. Hosting campers in our home and running the camp alongside my husband for a number of years has left an indelible mark on my heart. What an honor and responsibility to be the people that provide young people from around the world their first impression of American life! We took the task very seriously and had the time of our lives doing it.

    My greatest joy in Lions has been serving alongside my family members, both young and not so young. We fulfill the need to serve mankind while further strengthening our strong family connections. I’ve watched my children grow to be respectful, caring, service minded young adults through their time spent in Leo and Lions Clubs. My interactions with people from around the world as a member of the International Board of Directors have helped me grow as a human being.

    Being a Lion has allowed me to explore and develop skills in areas that have nothing to do with my career. It’s added another dimension to my daily life. I’ve found friends, traveled, learned new skills, challenged myself, and made a difference in the lives of many people – some that I personally know, and some that I’ll never meet. I’ve met the finest people in the world, and I’m never bored.

    In this monumental year of 2018-19, my hope is that we can change the perception of our organization, from “a bunch of older, white men” to the reality of the vibrant multi-generational, multi-cultural group that we are. We will do this by finding and amplifying our voices and promoting the amazing work done by all our members.

    I hope that when anyone, regardless of gender, age, or nationality, looks at Lions, they will see themselves mirrored throughout our association. I hope that they will see that they can fulfill the basic human need for connection by becoming part of our Association. Lastly, I hope that more women receive the encouragement they need to seek out leadership positions within their clubs, their districts, and on the international horizon.