Volunteer rolls up her sleeves for the community
By Jessica Laskey
If Gayle Kono could pick the one thing that distinguishes the Sacramento Senator Lions Club from other service organizations, it would be the group’s hands-on approach to volunteerism.
“We’re considered ‘the workers,’” says Kono, president of the local chapter. “Whatever needs to be done, we’ll roll up our sleeves and do it. Fundraisers are nice. It’s nice to have money to give back to the community. But our main focus is service projects.”
The Sacramento Senator Lions Club has two signature service projects: building and maintaining the Japanese Garden at Fairytale Town and sponsoring and maintaining the Sacramento Zoo’s Sensory Garden. The chapter also sponsors the Sacramento ZooMobile, which visits schools in
areas where students might not be able to afford to go to the zoo on their own, as well as the Kindle Project, in which students at Sierra Enterprise Elementary School participate in a reading contest for a chance to win one of six Kindle readers.
“For every book a child reads, they enter to win a Kindle,” the South Land Park resident explains. “A child who might not be a big reader can still win, so it encourages kids who maybe aren’t the best readers to read.”
Kono says the group’s primary mission has evolved over time to focus on children.
“I really feel that if you’re going to put your efforts into anything, the best place to see results is in helping kids,” Kono says. “If you can get to them early and put them on the right track, you won’t have to deal with other issues down the line. I’ve been the recipient of many acts of kindness throughout my life, especially as a child. Those little gestures that show a kid that someone cares can make them persevere.”
Kono also volunteers for the Buddhist Church of Sacramento (where she plays the organ), and she serves on the board of the Sacramento Buddhist Women’s Association. She encourages anyone interested in volunteering to figure out what kind of club best fits their goals.
“I always tell people they should visit different clubs to see where they feel most comfortable,” Kono says, adding that there are 54 service clubs in her district alone. “Come and volunteer at a service project and see if it’s something you’re interested in. And if you have an interest in a particular cause, the Lions Club can help you organize a service project and provide manpower. There’s strength in numbers.”
The Sacramento Senator Lions Club will hold its DandeLion Craft Show on Saturday, Dec. 2, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Buddhist Church of Sacramento, 2401 Riverside Blvd. The club meets on the first Thursday of every month at Aviator’s Restaurant at Sacramento Executive Airport, 6151 Freeport Blvd. For more information, go to sacramentosenatorlions.org.