Australian Leo of the Year – Joel Pattinson – Cashman’s

In Joels own words.

My name is Joel Pattinson-Cashman, and I am lucky to, this year, have won the Australian Lions – Leo of the Year Award.

joel4When asked to write this blog, I found it to be a remarkable opportunity, to hallmark the efforts of us as youth, and to showcase our efforts in benefiting our community, I found  it a great opportunity  to tell of my personal  pride for serving my community and lust to follow my dream. I also found  writing this to be as daunting task, because, although I’m a motormouth and a great lover of a conversation, I have never really considered myself successful,  inspiring or remarkable at all or  have never thought I was  living the dream. I have just considered myself as Joel, Joel the guy that fails to learn the ‘no’ word.  Joel, the same guy that loves helping others out.  Joel the guy that finds it much easier to talk about others than himself and the guy who would rather mow someone else lawn before his own.

Until two years ago, when I cut back on my volunteer commitment, my volunteering competed with my school life, my friends lives and my work. It was a busy time, as it was the time I’d also become school captain of my school, and I was working at nights and on weekends. It was a time that caused my  commitment to my community to falter, and my involvement, only being upheld once every few weeks, my community radio could only be heard once a week. My State Emergency Service commitments could only be upheld in situations of natural disaster or in times of need. My busy life took precedence.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed school, I enjoyed making good money and  enjoy spending time with friends, to which I endeavor to catch all of them as often as I can. But although life was busy, money was coming in and support was there.  I couldn’t understand why I stressed, I wasn’t enjoying everything I was doing, I wasn’t getting the satisfaction out of was I was involved in. I eventually realised that in focusing my life solely on  me, that suddenly I’d cut back on everything I loved doing, everything that gave me completion and satisfaction. All, because I was striving to achieve this so-called “working dream”, and I’d also failed to realise that it’s actually at times when I volunteer, I am at my most happiest, most satisfied and content. When I’m volunteering, my dream of life are in fruition and my path to personal success is in the process of being made.

It was 2010, the rejuvenation point in my life,  where a beautiful longtime family friend approached me and asked if I’d like to join the Leo program, to which, without taking a breath I said yes! Not because of the fact that we would get the opportunity to learn how to cook sausages or because we have the opportunity to lay our hands on some lions mint or Christmas puddings, but because I was already aware of the wonderful work that over 1.5 million lion, lionesses, leo members from thousands of clubs did for my very own community and for many other communities alike in times of disaster,health, support or community funding.

On joining, I also found that the Leo program was very much stronger in the Leadership, Experience and Opportunities that the acronym stands for. It gives youth a chance to benefit their community,  find a direction, grow confidence, share their voice and be heard, make a difference alike no other, it gives youth, some who otherwise would struggle to meet like-minded friends,  an opportunity share,  prosper and follow their dreams.

As our club today stands  a 17 members,  we have recently seen the induction and beginning of an era and an  exciting  year for the  youngest president of our club to date.  This, is a remarkable achievement for a young man  at the age of 15. How many other organizations do you know, that would  provide a young man with such a drive, such determination an opportunity  to  benefit his community, but also hold a prestigious position such  as president of our club and a wonderful organization at that age?

From a young  age,  I had dreams that I wanted to empower people, I wanted to lead and create leaders, and i wanted to travel and I wanted to help those in need.   Through Leos, I have held roles such as treasurer, Membership Chairman, Vice President and in 2014 am honoured to be in my current role as the 2014/2015 Australian Leo of the year, where my dream continues to unfold before my eyes and my dream of traveling is becoming quickly realized. Earlier this year, I let my passport expire, because I thought my dream was taking a diversion, I thought my dream was taking a different path, I had no immediate plan to travel, until after strong encouragement and support from friends and family , I took up the invitation to  apply for the opportunity to enter into the Australian Leo of the Year competition, to which I was lucky enough to make  it through as the winner of district, state and national levels.

Before entering, I actually thought the competition wasn’t for me. I thought there were people who deserve to be an ambassador more than me, people who want to help people more than me, people other than myself. But with a great amount of  luck, and support from Lions and Leos of  Australia, I have been given the opportunity to be a leader of our organization once more, my life had changed,  new opportunities are brought to me everyday, with my year encompassing many more speeches, conventions and opportunities to meet new people and to  hear many more stories.

Joel inspecting tents used in Lions Disaster Relief efforts
Joel inspecting tents used in Lions Disaster Relief efforts

I owe Leos for  the qualities I have gained from which have also provided me with many external opportunities to also expand my dream and  to further my involvement, aid my leadership and grow my confidence towards fixing issues that i am most passionate about, issues such as youth mental health, suicide, and homelessness. I am now involved as a youth ambassador and member of the Head Space Mackay youth reference group, and   a strong promoter of the Central Queensland Leo’s alive Project.

Leo’s have given me a new vision. Really this role is not all about me,  its my chance to  thank my amazing  parents, my siblings, my family and its my opportunity thank an organization which given me so much, has welcomed me with hugs, praises, accommodation and knowledge.  When our club  was completing one of our recent community project working bees at the house of a disabled person, it dawned on me. Life in essence was really was very similar to  this project. In life, or when cleaning footpaths,  there will be tough times; that despite the effort  and determination put  through the whole path ,  there will be setbacks and and times the slime and grime will be thicker and tougher, the success slower and progress harder see, but through perseverance, there is light, a brighter time. There are rewards and someone is always noticing the difference, noticing the effort that was put in and noticing the success that was being made.

Although  a project like this may be  small, and not global news, this project made a great difference and impact to each person affected. It brought the most spectacular of smiles to their faces.  Imagine what  our whole world could achieve if we all thought this way, if we all understood  that one persons small small project can bring the greatest happiness to even one persons life.   This is my story, this is my dream, thank you for being apart of it and always remember .We are the ones to make a difference.

We are Leos, we are Lions, we are the biggest, we don’t consider ourselves the best, but together we give it all we have got.