By Jane Collins, President Maben Lions Club
This year Maben Lions Club sponsored three students from West Oktibbeha High School to attend the Mississippi Lions Leadership Conferences at Roosevelt State Park near Morton.
Two young men, Jonathan Love and Deshun Brown, attended the Boys Conference the first weekend in March, and one young woman, Phoenecia Evans, attended the Girls Conference during the second weekend in March.
These young people and their parents were invited to the Lions Club meeting on April 24 to give reports to the members on what their experience had been. Jonathan was accompanied by his parents, Tamara and John Lowe, and Deshun and Phoenecia were accompanied by Deshun’s grandmother, Pricilla Brown.
Jonathan, a rising senior, spoke first. He enjoyed learning leadership skills presented by speakers at the conference, Jim West (dean of architecture at MSU) and Dolphus Weary (past president of Mission Mississippi and now president of REAL Christian Foundation and speaker at February’s Maben Chamber of Commerce banquet).
Jonathan also told about learning more about the many activities of Lions Clubs International. His favorite activity was focusing on “Citizenship Questions” with his cabin mates and digging deep into the moral and political questions of our day. Jonathan wants to be a paleontologist who will be trained to excavate the ground where a new building or road is going to be built, so that any valuable objects can be saved before the ground is covered over.
Deshun, a rising junior, spoke about the PowerPoint presentation on Lionism that explained what projects Lions are involved with. He spoke about being moved by the mother of a young boy who was killed in a hunting accident, and who unselfishly donated his organs to others who found new life by being given these organs, especially his eyes.
He especially enjoyed hearing from Dolphus Weary, who has written a book about his experience of growing up in Mendenhall, escaping by earning a basketball scholarship in California, but then felt God calling him back to Mississippi.
The name of his book is “I Ain’t Coming Back.” He sold copies of it to the attendees at the conference. Deshun also mentioned that he enjoyed the Dogpatch Olympics, a contest featuring physical contests between the boys’ cabins. The “Dizzy Izzy” is just one of the fun activities enjoyed by the campers.
Phoenecia, who graduated in May, told the Lions that before going to Leadership Conference she really didn’t know anything about the work that Lions do in the community such as testing sight acuity for area school students, paying for new eyeglasses for people in need, giving $500 scholarships to worthy high school seniors and sending young people to Leadership Conference every year.
She told about the fun she had meeting outstanding girls from all over the state. She is already in touch with several of them and plans to enjoy these new friends for a long time. She told about learning to line dance and enjoying an ice cream party and all the good food.
She especially enjoyed hearing about the organ donation program of the Lions of Mississippi through their Eye Bank, which is used by eye surgeons here and even in other states. She also loved hearing about the Seeing Eye Dog program and the story of how blind people can become trained to handle a dog that is then given to them through the Lions Clubs International, which supports this program.
All three of these young people were awarded $4,000 scholarships to William Carey University to be used $1,000 a year for four years if they choose to go to William Carey. Any participant who goes to the Leadership Conference for a second year will then be given another $4,000 scholarship under the same rules. Attendance at Lions Clubs Leadership Conference is a valuable addition to student résumés.