Kembra Smith, who serves as district governor of the Georgia Lions 18-F, was the special guest at the Thomson Camellia City Lions Club Valentine's Banquet held Monday night at the Thomson Depot.
Ms. Smith, a member of the North Decatur Lions Club, addressed about 30 people who attended the banquet. She said there is a need for new energy within Lions Clubs across Georgia and that membership should diversify to include both women and men.
She also pointed out the need for membership of the clubs to be more reflective of the community that they serve.
Ms. Smith said it was a pleasure and delight to be visiting Thomson and its local Lions Club. In addition, she also praised the longtime work of Bonnie Martin, who serves as president of the local club. She called Ms. Martin "a dynamic president" and one of the best in Georgia.
The guest speaker also talked about the Lions Club International, saying there are nearly four million members worldwide. Lions Club International is the only non-governmental agency with a permanent seat in the United Nations.
"We have an impact on international affairs," Ms. Smith said. There is actually a tie-in with United Nations directives, she added.
On another topic with global impact, Ms. Smith said that Lions Club International has worked for years to eradicate blindness, even though that goal has not been reached.
At present, Ms. Smith said, an estimated $138 million has been raised for the blindness program and that originally a goal of $150 million was set. Since then, however, there has developed what she described as "a stretch goal" of $200 million.
The additional $50 million would be earmarked for training and eye-care research by doctors in the United States, instead of on the global side, Ms. Smith explained.
"This is pretty exciting stuff for us to know that we are all a part of such contributions," Ms. Smith said.
This year's theme of Lions Club International is: "The Challenge to Change."
Ms. Smith also said it is important for Lions Club members to let the people in the communities they serve know what they are doing and how they impact everyday lives.
The district governor also praised the efforts of club members across the state in their support of the Georgia Lighthouse for the Blind.
The camp, located in South Georgia, has several buildings that are now approved as handicapped accessible by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Aside from her role as the new district governor, Ms. Smith also serves as a staff attorney career law clerk with the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta.