Resident receives Leadership Medal from Lions Club International

By Christian Mysliwiec - Staff Writer
South Windsor - posted Fri., Mar. 1, 2013
Sia Dowlatshahi receives the Leadership Medal. To his left is International Director Mark Hintzmann of Watertown, Wisconsin, and to his right is District Governor Tim Hilliker from the Terryville Lions Club. Contributed photo. - Contributed Photo

South Windsor resident and South Windsor Lions Club member Sia Dowlatshahi has been named a recipient of the Leadership Medal, the second-highest award Lions Club International can bestow upon its members. Dowlatshahi received this award at the Connecticut Lions Club annual mid-winter conference, on Saturday, Feb. 2, at Crown Plaza in Cromwell.

In Connecticut, the Lions Club is broken up into three districts. Each district has its own governor. The governor for each district writes up a resume for the member to whom they would like to award the Leadership Medal. The recommendation is sent to the Lions Club International headquarters in Broad Brook, Illinois, where a committee reviews the resumes and determines which should be awarded. Dowlatshahi was one of three members awarded in Connecticut this year.

The Leadership Medal is second only to the Presidential Medal in terms of prestige within the international organization.

Dowlatshahi has been a member of the Lions Club since 1992, and has been a member of the South Windsor Lions Club for 20 years. He is a past district governor, having served from 2010 to 2011. He was in charge of 2,000 people in the district. The following year, he served as council chair, overseeing all of Connecticut, or 5,000 members.

His involvement in the South Windsor community has improved the quality of life for many recipients. Among the club's fundraising events, Dowlatshahi chaired the South Windsor Lions Club's largest fundraising event, its annual golf tournament in May. These tournaments raise more than $10,000. “One hundred percent of the money we raised from the public goes back to the public. None of us get paid, we're all volunteers,” he said. “For most other charitable organizations, somewhere around 70 to 75 percent of the money they raise goes back to administration. Ours is one of the few charities where 100 percent of the money raised goes back to the public.”

In June, they decide on where the proceeds should go. Recipients range from the Food and Fuel Bank and the teen center, to FISH of South Windsor and Wood Memorial Library. They also provide a scholarship to students who have faced a life challenge.
The South Windsor Lions Club also benefits organizations whose scope extends beyond South Windsor. They benefit CLERF, Connecticut Lions Eye Research Foundation, which funds eye surgeries for children in need at Yale University. The club has purchased eye glasses for the poor and supports vision centers which serve low-vision, legally blind individuals. The club also supports Fidelco Guide Dogs with funding and recommendations on those in need. They have also supported CRIS, the Connecticut Radio Information System, a broadcast which reads newspapers, magazines and books to the blind.

Dowlatshahi went above and beyond what was expected of a member. He contributed at the local community level of the South Windsor Lions Club and then went beyond, becoming involved at the district level. Because of his involvement, he eventually became the district governor.

Dowlatshahi said he was very pleased with the honor. “I was very appreciative because I know there are many other people who do a very nice job in their communities and in the state of Connecticut,” he said. “I was very fortunate to be one of the recipients.”

The Lions Club has 1.5 million members in 207 countries throughout the world. In Connecticut, the local South Windsor club belongs to District B, which covers Hartford and Litchfield counties. With 42 members, the South Windsor Lions Club is always looking for new members, said Dowlatshahi. They hold regular meetings on the second and fourth Wednesday of the month, gathering at Berry Patch on the second Wednesday and La Casa Bella Restaurant on the fourth. Those interested in becoming a Lions Club member traditionally attend one meeting so they can observe how the club functions. If it appeals to them, they then return for a second. If board members approve their acceptance, they are later installed by an existing member.

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