Not every Lions Centennial Legacy Project has to be a monumental undertaking. The Taylorsville-Winfield Lions Club in Carroll County, Maryland, for example, decided to install a beautiful oak bench in the local park for their Legacy Project.
Past district governor Kent Eitemiller, secretary of the Taylorsville-Winfield Lions Club, explains how the bench came into being. “A few years ago, Carroll County developed our very first park, and the park director came and spoke at our club. He offered us the opportunity to add a Lions marker to the new park, and we unanimously agreed to provide a bench with our club name and logo on it.”
Nestled on more than 100 acres, Krimgold Park boasts several ball fields, open pavilions, a playground, four evergreen-lined ponds, a scenic walking path and a beaver that calls the park home. And now, there’s a comfortable, inviting Lions bench situated directly across from the playground where parents and grandparents can relax and enjoy spending time with their little ones.
“Installing a bench with our name on it was a way of letting residents know that our Lions club is here and is actively helping people,” said Linda Brady, club president. “We serve a lot of needs in the community, from hosting ice cream socials at assisted living facilities to providing eyeglasses, food and medical equipment. We recently helped a 20-year-old paraplegic man purchase a hospital bed that would accommodate his six foot frame.
“When you look around and see the hardships others are experiencing, it is a wonderful feeling to be able to give them a hand. Our park bench adds a lot to the community—and is an invitation for people to join us so that, together, we can help even more neighbors in need.”
A bench is a welcome addition to any setting, whether it’s a bustling city or serene suburb. Benches bring people together. Which is exactly what Lions clubs do the world around, every day. What could be a more lasting legacy than that?
Design a Legacy Project that fits your club and your community. Start planning yours today!
Grand Junction, Colorado, 1958. The once-vibrant downtown of a small American city. Sidewalks were cracked. Parking was impossible. The streets flooded after every rainfall.
Though home to only 20,000 people, Grand Junction was a hub for commerce and medical care for as many as 200,000 Coloradans. Situated in the clear air and high desert of Colorado, Grand Junction was notable because of the beautiful mountains and wilderness visible even from downtown. However, urban blight had crept into the quaint town.
Then came Operation Foresight, with the Lions leading the charge.
A committee of seven—more than half of whom were Lions or were married to a Lion—meticulously laid out a plan to modernize and beautify 27 blocks of downtown Grand Junction. Improvements to traffic lights, water and sewer systems, streets, and sidewalks were the foundation. Four years later, traffic accidents dropped to one-sixth of what they were before Operation Foresight was launched. Coats of paint spruced up fire hydrants and buildings, and a barren four-block stretch of Main Street was turned into a new shopping area, a pedestrian-friendly, picturesque center of commerce.
Lions have a history of cleaning up their communities in ways large and small. In 1937, the Lions of Kona, Hawaii, teamed with the Boy Scouts and the local fire department to safely dispose of 92 truckloads of waste that had accumulated on the outskirts of town. Four clubs in St. Mary’s County, Maryland, teamed up in 1964 to pick up litter along a five-mile stretch of highway. In 1985, the days of thick telephone directories, the Lions clubs of Portland, Oregon, organized annual programs to collect old phone books and recycle them instead of simply throwing them out.
Lions around the world work to clean up beaches, too: The Karachi Professionals Lions Club of Pakistan led 1,000 schoolchildren in cleaning a local beach in 1994. Additionally, the Lions of Petaling Jaya Metro in Malaysia, cleaned up roadside drains in 1995 in order to keep the homes of local residents from flooding. And Lions across southern India once planted hundreds of thousands of trees in a single day.
Community cleanup means more than beautifying. It’s also about repair, closure and new beginnings. After a devastating tornado struck Joplin, Missouri, in 2011, causing nearly US$3 billion in damages and laying waste to entire communities, the Lions were there, partnering with the First Response Team of America to clear damaged homes and recover anything they could.
Sandy Taylor of the Joplin Lions Club put it perfectly: “That’s just what Lions do. We serve.”
Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) offers a variety of funding options to support various stages for disaster relief operations, including Disaster Preparedness, Emergency, Community Recovery and Major Catastrophe Grants.
For districts impacted by a natural disaster that has affected at least 100 people, including tornadoes, hurricanes, floods and tsunamis, Emergency Grants provide up to US$10,000. Lions district governors may apply for disaster relief funds to help meet immediate needs such as food, water, clothing and medical supplies. LCIF typically awards more than US$2 million in Emergency Grant funding each year.
In January 2017, LCIF awarded 7 emergency grants totaling US$65,000. These grants are addressing immediate needs in:
Turkey, District 118-U
US$10,000 for flood relief
Thailand, District 310-B
US$5,000 for flood relief
Argentina, District O-2
US$10,000 for flood relief
Argentina, District O-1
US$10,000 for mudslide relief
Mississippi, USA, District 30-S
US$10,000 for tornado relief
Chile, District T-3
US$10,000 for wildfire relief
Georgia, USA, District 18-O
US$10,000 for tornado relief
Please consider making a donation to LCIF’s disaster fund today.
China played an important role in the early days of the Lions Clubs International, as the organization was just starting to expand.
China was the third nation to host a Lions club, after the United States and Canada. In October 1926, a group of business and community leaders in the port city of Tianjin (formerly Tientsin) received their club charter. Reflecting the city’s cosmopolitan character and its importance as an international trading center, the membership was evenly divided between leading Chinese citizens and foreign nationals—Americans, British, French, Germans, Italians and Hungarians, among others.
A few months later, a second Lions club was founded less than 300 miles away in Qingdao (formerly Tsingtao). Lions clubs ceased operations in China in 1949, following a change in government.
Lions’ sight mission was the key that reopened doors in China. In the early 1990s, Lions leaders including Wing-Kun Tam, a Lion from Hong Kong who would serve as international president in 2011-2012, initiated talks with Chinese government officials about helping to restore sight to millions of Chinese through cataract surgeries. An estimated 20 percent of people in the world who are blind from cataracts live in China, and every year there are 400,000 new cases.
Lions soon found a loyal friend and champion in Deng Pufeng, chairman of the China Disabled Persons’ Federation and the son of China’s leader at the time , Deng Xiaoping. Deng Pufeng energetically took up the Lions’ proposal and helped guide it through numerous government ministries.
A few years later, in 1999, Lions launched SightFirst China Action in partnership with the China Disabled Person’s Federation and China’s Ministry of Health. With US$35.7 million in Lions Clubs International Foundation SightFirst Action grants, the effort has supported more than 5 million cataract surgeries, helped train more than 50,000 doctors, nurses and health care workers, and upgraded more than 300 eye hospitals and clinics.
SightFirst is working with its partners in China to increase low-vision services, including pilot centers in Liaoning and Guangdong provinces, to assess if blinding trachoma is a public health problem in China. SightFirst in China is also working to develop a regional training program model in Liaoning Province that better links eye care services in urban areas to those in rural areas.
With these spectacular results, the formation of new Lions clubs in China was not long in coming. In 2002, with the full support and endorsement of the Chinese government, Lions Clubs International issued charters to new clubs in Guangdong and Shenzhen with about 60 members each. Lions have grown rapidly in China. By 2015, there were 26,000 members in 758 clubs, ranking China among Lions’ fastest growing regions worldwide.
Perhaps you have heard that Lions Clubs International (LCI) approved a new service initiative in June. This is a very exciting time to be a Lion! Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) is eager to support future Lions’ service initiatives just as it has for nearly 50 years.
Lions, Leos and LCIF will continue working to save sight, fight hunger and protect our environment, just as we always have. But emerging global needs also require our attention. We are developing new ways to expand our capacity to serve in unique areas, including childhood cancer and diabetes, to ensure that we meet the needs of our changing world.
We have accomplished so much together, saving lives and offering hope to those who need us most. But our work is not done. I know that we will continue to have a positive impact all over the world and I am delighted to stand beside you as we head into a new and exciting era of service. Remember, LCIF stands with Lions and is here to help you make a difference.
Dr. Jitsuhiro Yamada
Chairperson, Lions Clubs International Foundation
Read the rest of the January newsletter here.
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