Kyiv Lions Club has elected Californian John Jones to be its next President. Jones, a former US Navy nuclear engineer, is a veteran of Kyiv and of the region. He first went to the Soviet Union in 1988, as part of his bid to see 150 countries by the time he was 40.
“Curiosity got the better of me,” he recalls. “I wanted to see if all the stories of an evil empire were true”.
Jones, a fluent Russian speaker, was very much in demand and spent 10 years decommissioning weapons of mass destruction. He came to Ukraine so that he could tick off another country on his list.
“Visiting Kyiv on a cold November weekend wasn’t perhaps the best time to see the city, but I was so struck by the warmth and generosity of the city that when my hosts invited me back, I had no choice but to come and it has been a love affair ever since,” he remembers.
John is well known in Kyiv as a founder of MultiNations Kyiv, a social network group that brings people of different nationalities together to socialize and communicate.
“What I have learned in all my years of travel is that when people communicate, they realize not what divides them, but what unites them and that together they can move mountains -- this is what I want to do as President of the Kyiv Lions Club," he said.
"KLC is a fine institution that has been a pioneer in social responsibility in Ukraine,” Jones continued. “Through the hard work of the members, all of whom are volunteers, they have over the years raised over $3 million, every cent of which has been used for very worthy and needy causes. I want to continue down that path and perhaps excite more people to join and to put something back into society.”
“We have an annual program of fund raising events that will start under my watch with a 'charity yacht regatta' on July 29, will continue with ‘Kozak Night’ in September, a 'charity concert' in December, ‘Burns Night’ in February, a 'charity golf' event in late May,” he said. “I hope my year will conclude with an outdoor classical concert around the summer solstice.”
“In addition, I want introduce a monthly social get together as an adjunct to the official monthly members meetings to introduce new volunteers into the concept of the Lions and to giving back to those less fortunate in society,” he concluded.
Kyiv Lions Club is part of the largest business charity organization in the world with 1.4 million members in 44,000 clubs in 179 countries. By comparison, Rotary International has 1.2 million members in 33,000 clubs in 200 countries.
Kyiv Lions is one of the largest clubs in Eastern Europe with over 60 members. A majority are senior business executives. The club is financed entirely through annual fees paid by members. This enable all money raised to go to worthy causes -- children in need, education, the care of the sick and incapacitated and support for the elderly.