I recently returned from the Philippines, where I witnessed joy from those we are serving. I met with villagers in Tacloban and visited their new homes. I also saw smiles in the eyes of children, as they are nourished through a Lions feeding program.
As many of you celebrate the holidays and prepare for the new year, I ask that you keep these images in your heart. But I also ask you to think of the children we have not yet reached and who are still hungry.
With your donations, Lions and LCIF will continue to fight blindness, support youth, provide disaster relief and meet humanitarian needs all around the world. We are addressing global health issues, such as measles, diabetes and Ebola. We are reducing poverty through microenterprise. We are addressing needs of people everywhere. We are changing lives and providing hope to millions.
Thank you for proving that where there is a need, there is a Lion.
Barry J. Palmer
Chairperson, Lions Clubs International Foundation
The Milagro Melvin Jones Lions Club in Ecuador organized the third version of their hunger and literacy project –providing 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade students with food and books. Students enjoyed story time, a healthy snack and were able to get their face painted. It was another great success for those in the community.
We encourage Lions all across the globe to participate in the Centennial Service Challenge by organizing youth, vision, hunger and environmental projects. These projects count towards our goal of serving 100 million people by 2017. Lions, report your activities to MyLCI and share pictures on social media sites using the hashtag #LIONS100. That way other clubs can see how you’re making an impact in your community.
How are you feeding children in your community?
LCIF awarded a US$100,000 grant to the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) to plant trees in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Recently, Lions Club (LC) Nairobi Runda, LC Nairobi FOSOK Champions, LC Stand Up Shout Out, LC Thika Kilimambogo, LC Nairobi Karen, LC Nairobi Dagoretti and LC Nairobi Central teamed up with Kenya Defence Forces (KDF), Girl Guides, Serena Hotel and community members to plant trees near the Ndakaini Dam. The Ndakaini Dam supplies 80 percent of Nairobi’s drinking water. Together, they planted 25,000 trees to protect the dam catchment area.
The Lions Club of Bloomfield, New York received an irregular result during one of their vision screenings at the local elementary school. Brianna Leitten was one of 11 students, but as a result of further testing, the Leittens discovered a cancerous tumor in their daughter’s eye. Thanks to the vision screening camera the Lions used, Brianna’s life was saved.
Through their yearly vision screenings, the Bloomfield Lions Club is able to help test the eyesight of preschool and kindergarten children. “Oftentimes young students have no idea if they’re having trouble with their vision,” says Mary Sue Bennett, principal of Bloomfield Elementary. Students who struggle with their vision will have a hard time succeeding in school, which is why it is important to screen at an early age.
Within 30 seconds of taking a picture, the camera can determine whether the child has passed or needs to be referred for further testing. Mike Bartle, the Lion who screened Brianna, said, “The camera has a set of criteria. And so if it detects anything that’s out of the tolerance levels, it’ll come up and it’ll say either refer or pass if everything is adequate.”
It is estimated that about 19 million children are visually impaired. Lions work to improve sight by screening hundreds of thousands of people every year.
Below, read advice and tips from the Bloomfield Lions to help you get started and plan a vision screening in your community.
Brianna, her mother and Lion Mike Bartle will be on the panel discussing this year’s theme, “Children in Need,” at the Lions Day with the UN on March 7th, 2015. Join us as we celebrate 70 years of partnership!
Lions’ long history of improving vision is what helped William Wildhack decide to become a Lion 20 years ago. “What attracted me to Lions is the emphasis on sight and what we as Lions do for those in need. Without corrective lenses, I am about 20/1000. Eye sight has always been very important to me, probably because mine isn’t so good,” Wildhack explained.
Wildhack, an attorney and IRS agent, understands just how important combating vision loss is, as well as how treatable it is for the majority of the world’s people with sight problems. It is this understanding that prompted Wildhack to first become a Melvin Jones Fellow (MJF) with a US$1,000 donation, and then a Progressive Melvin Jones Fellow (PMJF), with subsequent US$1,000 donations. “I became a PMJF because I know that every minute of every day, someone goes blind, and 80 percent of all blindness is preventable. The need is great, and one way I can help is through LCIF.” Wildhack serves as a passionate ambassador for Lions clubs and LCIF in his community; he has even persuaded several non-Lions to become Melvin Jones Fellows.
Wildhack’s Lions club became very involved with supporting SightFirst with the first fundraising campaign, and continued raising funds for Campaign SightFirst II (CSFII). “Through CSFII, we raised funds by meeting with individuals or other groups face to face, through local cable TV, speaking to Lions clubs, other groups and especially my clients,” said Wildhack.
And for Wildhack, the rewards of supporting LCIF and Sightfirst keep paying off: “It feels really good to know that by raising US$57,000 for SightFirst, our Lions club saved more than 9,500 individuals from blindness. In fact, I still get choked up when I read or hear updates about the individuals reached through our SightFirst program.”
From LCIF: Our Impact Story Archives
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