Written by Othmar Fetz

How are you? Tell us a little about you!

I am currently a freshman at the one and only University of Texas at Austin! I am studying International Relations & Global Studies along with Spanish, and I am pursuing a certificate in public policy. I aspire to become a politician one day after I complete law school and work as an International or Children’s defense attorney.

 

What’s your LEO Club called and where is it located. Who’s your sponsoring Lions-Club?

My LEO club, which I just graduated from, is located in Lago Vista (facebook-page of the club), Texas, right on Lake Travis. Our sponsoring Lions Club is the Lago Vista Lions Club.

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Emily at the Austin soup kitchen

 

Tell me a little about your club (size, members, activities, how often you meet etc.)

My club ranged in membership from between 20 and 30 members, always maintaining about 15 active members. What I came to realize is that it is not the size of membership that affects the success of your club, but rather the number of active members in your club. Someone can have 100 members and complete less service than a 10 person club with 10 active members. We worked with Dell Children’s Hospital, the local Lago Vista Animal Shelter, the Austin Soup Kitchen, and the local Blood Drive. We also raised meals every holiday for families in our community who could not afford it otherwise. We did everything from park cleanups to waitressing at banquets. The sky is the limit for the Lago Vista Leo Club!

 

What’s your personal LEO history (which functions did you have)?

I went from Secretary of my local club, to Vice President of my local club, to President for two years of my local club. I also advanced to Vice President of my District and State President of Texas. I quite simply could not get enough involvment.

 

When and why did you become a LEO?

I became a Leo my eighth grade year, and I started off my journey with the intention of just having something to put down on my resume when I applied for college one day. I never dreamed my love for service would take me this far, all the way to International Leo of the Year. I am humbled by how much this club, and this entire organization has served me.

 

Have you ever been awarded? Tell us why and when – and about how it was!

I have been awarded District, State, and International Leo of the Year, and each time it was the most rewarding feeling rushing through me– not because I was anything spectacular, but because it meant many people’s lives had been touched by the club I was chosen to lead.

 

What’s your message to other LEOs around the world?

My message is simple — When you are serving others, look at them with the same kindness that you would with your own mother, father, brother, sister. There will come a point in everyone’s life, even if you have not reached it yet, when you will need help from your community. So be there for your community now, and it will be there for you forever.

Emily and Leo Rene working at the Lago Vista animal shelter
Emily and Leo Rene working at the Lago Vista animal shelter

 

What was the most heartbreaking moment in your LEO career, which activity or event touched you most?

The most heartbreaking moment in my Leo Career took place one year when we were calling families and asking if they would like a dinner provided to them for Thanksgiving. One woman completely poured into me, and broke down telling me how much it meant to her that she would have food for her family on a day that usually reminded them of how much they didn’t have. I struggled to keep my composure, and I felt extremely blessed to have been a part of her holiday.

 

Did LEO change your life and why do you think it was a good choice to invest time to LEO?

LEO club changed my life in absolutely every way. I used to think that the club needed me, that the organization needed me to continue. Upon entering college, I realized that I needed service to keep me going. A life without service is a life without genuine happiness.

 

Will you become a Lion after your LEO-time?

Yes! I am currrently a Lion of the UT campus Lions Club, and I plan on continuing in service as long as I live.

Emily accepting the Texas outstanding Leo of the year award in 2015
Emily accepting the Texas outstanding Leo of the year award in 2015

 

Do you know about The LEO Book project and if yes, what do you think about it?

Yes! My Leo Advisor told me all about it earlier this year, and I think it is an absolutely spectacular project. I love that someone has invested so much time in such a giving organization. I think that more people can learn of the hope spoken by this organization through projects like this.

 

Is there something else you would like to tell a wide, international audience – go for it and send me everything you want :)

Know your strengths, but even more important than that still is to know your weaknesses.

 

Imagine, there is an international Cyber Lions Club, which means, a club which is organized and run virtually and focuses on helping LEO Clubs as well as supporting LEOs around the world while they travel (e.g. helping them to get cheep hotels, find other LEOs who can host them etc.) – what do you think about that idea  and would you – theoretically – attend such club after your LEO career?

I think that is a swell idea, and it woud provide a stable foundation for an increasingly digital global service community.

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Serving peach cobbler with my lago Leo’s at the lago vista Christmas tree lighting ceremony

Get even more inspiration!

On 400 pages I show community service of young people, whom I was able to accompany during self-organiced travels to 25 countries between 2014 and 2017.