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Gonzalez selected as ‘Leo of the Year’

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By Jan White
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Leo of the yearCROCKETT – Piney Woods Leo Club President, Ariana Gonzalez, has been selected as the District 2-X3 Leo of the Year. Gonzalez has been an active member of the Leo Club since she joined at age twelve. She is a quiet but highly effective leader with a positive attitude, superb organizational skills, and a compassionate nature.

Gonzalez has earned the Lions Club International Young Leader in Service award annually by volunteering more than 50 hours for two of her service years and over 100 hours the other five years.  Gonzalez spearheaded the Leo Club pencil distribution this year for elementary students in the five districts in Houston County.  She also implemented the Sponsor concept in the Leo Club, where the sponsoring Leo is accountable for encouraging recruits to attend volunteer events and meetings as often as possible.

Under her leadership, the Piney Woods Leo Club has already set a new record with 28 new Leos joining the Club in the 2022-2023 year so far. Leo Club Advisor Ellen Brooks stated, “Ariana is mature beyond her years and reminds me of an old soul.  She is extremely patient and compassionate, and she has been such an asset to the Club when we volunteer in the community.” Because this is her last year to serve in the Leos before graduation, Brooks added, “She will be missed, but I believe God has big plans for her.”

When asked how the Leo Club Program has equipped her for the future, Gonzolez answered, “The Leo Club has prepared me for my future by inculcating in me the idea that we can all make the world a better place one community at a time! I was 12 years old when I joined the Leo Club. My first volunteer event required an overnight stay which was terrifying because I had never been away from my family. My Leo sponsor and Leos welcomed me and made me feel at home.

“I have learned to be out on my own and become independent. The Leo Club has been the best Club I have ever joined. It has brought me so many life skills for the future.  I have gained leadership skills through this organization by holding office as chairperson for two years, vice president, and current president.”

Gonzalez said she learned a lot about preparation, organization, public speaking, and “how to be a leader that makes others want to follow.” She said teamwork and fellowship also play a considerable role as a Leo. “Together, we are stronger and will accomplish great things. Being a leader isn’t about bossing people around or being demanding. A leader is a person who listens to the needs of others a person who shows respect, empathy, and gratitude. A leader is a person who empowers and guides others. I believe I have learned this by being a Leo Club member. I have volunteered many hours helping others with the Leo’s Club. It has taught me how to be kind, hard-working with nothing in return, responsible, punctual, meet new people, be open-minded, be grateful, and so much more. All of this knowledge and experience has also prepared me for college, my career, my community, and my family for years to come. This organization helped me choose a career where I can help others in need.”

Gonzalez shared that her goal is to become a nurse. “I will carry everything the Leo Club has taught me wherever I go so that I may encourage and motivate others to be leaders and serve their community.”

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