In early May, in the midst of all the interviews, pictures, and meetings that precede the announcement of a new President, VP Doug Alexander walked out of the Dollar Tree, heading across the street to complete his errands, when he found a wallet on the ground.

Inside was a woman’s ID and $140 in cash. Alexander saw from her address that she lived only a few blocks away, so he went there to return what belonged to her. But she wasn’t home, someone said.  She was at Dollar Tree, looking for her wallet. We all know how that feels.

When the two eventually met and Alexander gave the woman her wallet with all her money, she wanted to give him some of that cash back as a reward. What the woman didn’t know was that she was face-to-face with the kind-hearted man who was about to take over as President of the world’s largest service organization. “Oh no,” he said. It made her feel good to have it back. “And it made me feel good to give it to her. That’s what we do as human beings,” he says.

Alexander calls these “feel good” moments and he says they quietly come back to him when he serves. It’s these moments, which began as a child growing up in Brooklyn, NY, when he helped neighbors with their groceries, that reinforced in him the desire to keep serving.

Doug Alexander was born the middle child of nine children. Three sisters, Cleo, Doris, and Sandra preceded him, two brothers, Andra and Stanley, came after him, and then three more girls, Gladys, Verna, and Yolanda followed.

It can be easy to get lost in the middle of a big family, but he didn’t. They were a religious family, spending all day Sunday in the Baptist church, he remembers. Dad was a truck driver. Mom stayed home with the children. Sometimes money was tight. Sometimes you had to put cardboard in the bottom of your shoe because you had worn a hole in it. But they always had a roof over their heads and food to eat.

When the children were grown, his mother went back to school, earned her high school diploma, and became a registered nurse. Alexander says he is proud of her.

“My siblings always said I was my mother’s favorite,” says Alexander with a chuckle. “I don’t know where that came from.”  But when he was about 12, out of the blue a neighbor said, “We always knew you were going to do well.” He has not forgotten that.

As a young boy, Alexander made his first money at the grocery store helping shoppers carry their bags home. Some people gave a $1 tip, and others, a quarter. Quickly the boys at the store, including Alexander, determined which people were which and hoped they would get to help the folks with more money. But, says Alexander, “It also felt good when you helped somebody who didn’t have the money. I remember that, too. You just do it because it’s the right thing to do.”

That same desire to help and do the right thing continued into his young adult years. As a branch manager at the bank, eager to get more involved in his community, Alexander was invited to a Lions meeting. That evening he walked into the McDonald’s Dining Room, a family restaurant not connected to the franchise, and saw a group of men, members of the Brooklyn Bedford Stuyvesant Lions Club, discussing projects that would benefit their community.

“I knew I wanted to be a part of that,” says Alexander.

On October 1, 1984 he became an official Lion, but it wasn’t until a little later that he actually felt like one. He volunteered to be part of the club’s Thanksgiving basket program bringing food to needy families. At one house a woman answered the door. “This is for your family,” said a Lion, handing her a basket of food. Another behind him carried the turkey and a jug of cider.

Alexander remembers what she said in response:  “Thank you so much. No one has ever done anything like this for my family.”

“I walked down those stairs feeling so good about that experience,” he says. “That’s the day I became a Lion, knowing we were truly making a difference.”

Our new president has many more memories just like these. But for now, Doug Alexander is focusing on the future, which includes growing membership and bringing even more diversity to Lions.

As the Lions’ fourth African American International Director, from 2010 to 2012, and the first African American man to lead Lions, he has seen firsthand the importance of diversity. In North America, he says, “I think there’s a lot of room for improvement. There are few places where I’ve gone in my years of serving where I’ve looked out and seen a true melting pot of all denominations of people. I think there’s an opportunity to change that for our organization.”

When given the opportunity to run for president, Alexander says he thought long and hard, praying over the decision.

“And I kept coming back with the same answer,” he says. “Go for it.”

“People always say to me, ‘you speak from the heart.’ But this isn’t about me. It’s about us, and what we can do to make a difference in this world. That has served me well and I will continue in that way. It’s not about me.”

That is what so many who have come across Alexander’s kindness have learned. Alexander promises to lead Lions the way he leads his life: with courage and kindness. Straight from his heart.