‘Giving back’ leads to district governor role with Lions Clubs
About 15 years ago Stephen Dean joined the Lions Club to give back to his community with “absolutely no plan to go further than that”.
But after “an awful lot of coaxing” Mr Dean now has the prestigious honour of becoming the first Bermudian to earn the title of Lions Clubs district governor.
The former policeman and prison officer heads up the 39 Lions Clubs in New York State and three in Bermuda.
It is his role to oversee the day-to-day running of all the clubs and to draw up new rules and regulations. His personal motto for his year in office as district governor is “two islands united in service”.
It is Mr Dean’s aim to better educate people about the role of the Lions in an attempt to boost membership numbers.
There are about 125 members at Bermuda’s three clubs, Paget, Hamilton and Eastern, and he would like to see membership topping the 150 mark.
Mr Dean said: “Service organisations are having a problem retaining members all over the world and I want to increase numbers.
“Lions are like a well-kept secret. A lot of new members don’t know much about who we are and what we’re about, they have to learn as they go along.
“By increasing our visibility and focusing on young people, I hope to change that. We want to get the youth involved.”
Mr Dean joined Paget Lions Club in 1996 saying he’d “always been interested in doing community work”. He signed up after working as a police officer for 14 years and a prison officer for 21 years.
He said: “It was a lot of fun and I wanted to do some good for the community. There were meetings a couple of times a month and it was a good evening out.
“They did a lot of very good work dealing with the community’s needs.
“Then I just became hooked to it all and it skyrocketed from there.”
Mr Dean was vice president of his club from 2001 to 2002, then served as president from 2003 to 2005. He then went on to become deputy zone chairman, then zone chairman of Bermuda’s three Lions Clubs.
He said: “I really wasn’t ever thinking about being a district governor.
“When it was suggested, I thought it was a crazy idea. But then I put the feelers out and I realised there was a lot of support there and people were keen for me to try it.
“For years I had an awful lot of coaxing, so I decided to step up to the plate.”
But Mr Dean didn’t want to rush into it, so he spent a few years doing his research as he admits: “I’d never been to a Cabinet meeting and I didn’t know about running a district.”
He eventually became second vice district governor then first vice district governor, and after a five-day senior leadership course, he was named district governor of District 20-K2.
Party delegates at the Lions Club International Convention in Seattle voted Mr Dean in through a secret ballot in early July.
The convention was attended by more than 1,500 members from 100 countries and 750 district governors were sworn in.
Mr Dean sported his Bermuda shorts and knee-high socks and proudly flew the flag for Bermuda in the international parade.
He will hold the post of district governor until the end of June next year and is expecting to have to spend a lot of time away from home.
He will spend up to two weeks a month in New York and even when he is at home, he admits he will be “constantly e-mailing and texting”.
For this reason Mr Dean says he is very lucky to have the support of his wife Donna, adding: “I wouldn’t be able to do it without her.”
Mr Dean, who has three children and three grandchildren, said: “I’m very excited about the role, but let’s just say I’m not sleeping much as there’s so much going on.
“It’s all been quite overwhelming but it’s going to be a great ride. It’s going to be a challenge, but I love a good challenge.”
Mr Dean said he also hoped to use his new role to “put Bermuda on the map” as he was planning to host the Lions District Convention at the Fairmont Southampton Resort in March next year.
He claims he has no plans to go on to become international director of the Lions Clubs, joking “that’s my lot”.
Despite that, he added: “Perhaps I shouldn’t say never. Now that I’m so involved, I am involved for life.”
Anyone interested in joining the Lions Club should contact district governor Stephen Dean on 234-0098 or e-mail Dgstephen65[AT]yahoo.com