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It may be hard to believe, but today’s post marks #400, and the first time it will be written in the first person. The Lions Pride Blog was first started back in September 2013 after I sat next to two smiling faces at a women’s business luncheon. I was still working a full-time job but trying to make it on my own as an independent consultant. I was nervous, but Denise and Geri immediately put me at ease. As you may have guessed, the three of us hit it off and Lions Pride soon became my first client (outside of family). The Lions Pride Blog was born just a few weeks later.

Each Thursday for nearly 8 years (apart from missing one after the early arrival of my son in December 2020), we have published a blog post about many different topics like holidays, conventions, special events, fun facts and more. They didn’t always seem to directly apply, but we always wanted to make sure it tied back to Lions Pride.

If you’re a follower of the blog, you likely already know the origin story of Lions Pride, but here’s a Cliff Notes version, just in case. After serving in leadership roles within the Lions Organization, Dewey Carl identified an unmet need. He recognized that expenses for Lions Camp and all WLF projects had increased substantially, but the ever-important annual Lions Club Donations were not keeping up. By that time, he knew that many Wisconsin residents came to rely on these programs, so an additional financial source was crucial to keep them running.

He decided to establish a donor-directed endowment fund, which was approved by the Lions of Wisconsin in May 2005. Since that time, the Lions Pride Board and Staff have been working tirelessly to preserve, protect and provide for Lions Camp and all statewide projects.

You might recall that back in October, 2019, Lions Pride announced a goal to unite efforts and reach $10 million for the endowment fund by the 2021 State Convention. By attaining this milestone, we would be able to provide more than $300,000 a year in perpetuity to the Wisconsin Lions Foundation in support of Lions Camp and all WLF statewide projects and sunset the campaign.

I am excited to announce that Lions Pride has reached that milestone.

This goal would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of Dewey Carl, Geri Schlender, the board and staff, or the giving hearts of donors and supporters. It truly was a team effort and an accomplishment that we can be proud to share.

We now have the funds to financially assist the Wisconsin Lions Foundation indefinitely. How often can you make such a statement?

Because we have officially crossed the threshold, the organization will be changing, starting with the staff. One of the largest changes is the retirement of Executive Director, Geri Schlender. She has been with Lions Pride since the start and now will be able to enjoy the fruits of her labor. Please join me in congratulating Geri as she enters the next phase of her life, to be filled with travel, relaxation and fun. The organization was so incredibly lucky to have you at the helm.

The structure of the organization will also be going through some changes, which are still being ironed out by the Lions Pride Board. But since we have reached our goal, we will no longer be actively seeking donations from clubs and will begin decreasing monthly expenses, which means this 400th post will also be the last.

The last eight years have flown by in the blink of an eye, and I cannot tell you honored I feel to have had the opportunity to learn and grow with Lions Pride. The organization has shown me just how important it is to improve the lives of others. Service never goes out of style.

Thank you so much for your continued support, and for reading the Lions Pride Blog!

– Katy Bailey