Recruiting young, socially conscious minds is at the forefront of Gerald Cashman’s thoughts as he settles into the role of District Governor of the Lions Clubs of Ireland for 2022/23. Elected to the position last month, Gerald is now, in effect, the president of all 97 Lions clubs in Ireland, both north and south. And although the Wexford club continues to flourish he is mindful of dwindling memberships in other areas and hopes address this with some new blood.
“The ambition for the year is to increase membership, we would have maybe 10-12 clubs which are struggling, so we want to put structures in place for them to recruit,” Gerald said. “As happens in many organisations, things get stale, they get old; I made a point at the recent Lions Club convention in Clonmel that if you don’t have an underage team you won’t have an adult team.”
While young members Shauna Scullion and Matthew Colgan keep their older counterparts on their toes in Wexford, Gerald said work is already underway to bring the average age of the local Lions down by another few years.
"There is such a thing as the Leo Club concept, the underage section, which has slipped, so our target this year is to get into transition year students and hopefully build from there and some of them will stay on. We have to become more diverse too, there’s different communities living in Ireland now,” he said.
Originally from Ardmore in Co Waterford, Gerald has been a member of the Wexford Lions for over 35 years and has been part of countless projects designed to help those in need over the years.
“I got an invitation to join and I have to say at the time I didn’t know much about the organisation,” he says. “You get that sense of satisfaction when you see the results of the people you help. I remember when we used to do the food hampers and I spent a Saturday morning out delivering and it isn’t until you see it first-hand and compare it to what you have that you realise the situation. The Lions gives me a chance to deliver help to those less fortunate than ourselves.”
The impact of the work done locally was illustrated earlier this year when, following the outbreak of war in the Ukraine, members of the Lions Club in Wexford took to the streets for a bucket collection.
“I’m very proud of the club here because within a short while of it happening we hit the street and raised €17,000 over two days, we have raised in excess of €30,000 (for Ukrraine) in Wexford so far. And that’s ongoing. At one stage the district sent €150,000 to Lions Club International which found its way back to the Ukraine to help the people on the ground and there’s other clubs in the country which have raised big money for orphanages in Poland.”
Noting the generosity of local businesses, including a donation of water purification tablets from Medentech, Gerald says that in addition to working to boost numbers he and the rest of the Lions will once more focus on their five key projects in the coming months.
“We have five signature projects, SightFirst - a project which fights the major causes of preventable and reversible blindness and assists those who are blind or visually impaired - childhood cancer, hunger, the environment, and diabetes awareness. In addition to that our mission statement is to empower Lions Club members and their volunteers, to strengthen communities and support those in need through humanitarian services and grants which impact lives globally, and to encourage peace and international understanding,” he says.
Furthermore, all money raised goes directly towards charitable causes with no deductions, Gerald explains. To become a Lion contact email@example.com