The Coventry Lions Cub program began when the principal of North Coventry Elementary School contacted Lions about starting a Leo club in his school. The students were too young to become Leos, but that didn’t stop Lions from coming up with a new way to get youth involved in service. The first year of the Cub program was during the 2007-08 school year, with 179 students in five schools participating.
Today, Coventry Lions work with Lions Cubs to serve their community through activities such as book drives, eyeglass recycling, tree planting, sending care packages, fundraisers and more. The Cub program has become an excellent way to introduce the joys of community service to young children, and help them understand the importance of helping others.
Interested in starting a similar youth program in your community? Below is a Q & A with Lion Terry Stouffer of the Coventry Lions Club that addresses how the program was started.
The elementary principal contacted me at the end of the school year in 2006. Over the summer, I contacted other principals and teachers in the district. By the end of the summer, every elementary school in our district was on board with the program! It was a big plus that I was a teacher in the district and had built a working relationship with all of our principals and many teachers.
We held a group meeting at the beginning of the school year and developed a plan to introduce the club idea to every school. I set up an orientation program for each of the schools in the district to promote the club.
The number of hours varies by school. We ask for a minimum of eight after school meetings, or one after school meeting per month. These meetings average one hour. The projects and service activities from each school help dictate the number of hours required.
The number varies slightly year to year – usually around 100 Cubs for the five schools, which averages out to 20 Cubs per school. This year there were 94 members.
There have been a few service projects where Leos and Cubs worked together:
When the Lions from Kenosha, Wisconsin, landed in the Dominican Republic, it was 100 degrees warmer than when they first boarded the icy plane in Chicago that morning. But Lions set their sights on something more important than a little time in the sun.
With support from Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) and churches in the United States and the Dominican Republic, Lions from both countries came together to host a free vision clinic offering eye exams, prescription glasses, medication and eye surgeries for the residents of the small town of Sabana Yegua.
This was the second time the Kenosha Lions travelled to the Dominican Republic with the help of an International Assistance Grant from LCIF. This year, a $30,000 grant, combined with funds raised by Lions and the St. Mary’s and St. Anne’s parishes in Wisconsin, made it possible for the group of nearly 30 Lions and community members from both countries to host the clinic.
“Many people around the world including Sabana Yeguans are practically blind when it comes to reading,” says Dr. Peter Emer, a Lion and optometrist who helped organize the mission. “They don’t even have access to a basic pair of reading glasses. Without reading glasses, you can be blind–handicapped–for any type of close visual task.”
After just four days in the Dominican Republic Emer and his colleagues examined 1,200 people, handed out 900 prescription eye glasses and made an additional 200 orders for specialized prescriptions.
Lion surgeon Dr. Stephen Slana and two ophthalmological assistants were on hand to correct dangerous vision problems identified during the exams. In total, they performed 118 successful surgeries, correcting everything from cataracts and pterygium to problems with eye muscles.
This year marked the first time the Lions set up satellite clinics throughout the Dominican Republic to treat residents unable to make the trip to Sabana Yegua. These clinics included a trip to a nearby Haitian neighborhood, where Lions performed eye exams in an old church, and a trip to a local prison, where prisoners and guards alike were provided with sunglasses, eye drops and baseball caps to protect them from the sun.
The international cooperation between the Lions from Wisconsin and the Dominican Lions made the trip successful. From transporting patients to gathering patient information and arranging follow-up care, Dominican Lions were instrumental to the clinic.
Even after the success of this trip, the Lions are still looking for ways to improve on future missions. For their next trip, Lions are researching new clinic locations and looking for ways to further improve patient access to post-surgery follow-up care.
One thing is clear: the international partnership forged between Lions is a bond of commitment and service that transcends languages and borders. Just ask the thousands of Dominicans whose futures look brighter now than ever before.
*This story by Eric Margules originally appeared in the June 2014 edition of LION Magazine.
You might hear us telling Lions to use hashtags when posting pictures and stories of service activities on Facebook and Twitter, but what exactly is a hashtag and how do they work? Here’s a basic rundown:
When you add #LionsClub to a message on Twitter or Facebook, you’re essentially joining a conversation. People on Twitter and Facebook can search for a specific hashtag, and your message will show up in those search results. Your hashtag is letting everyone know the great things that your Lions club is doing for the community.
Here is what shows up on Twitter when searching for messages with the hashtag #LionsClub:
Since its founding in 1968, Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) has been committed to helping Lions help children and young adults in need all over the world. From the Lions Quest program that supports social and emotional learning in schools to constructing schools in developing nations and providing vocational training, LCIF supports youth in many ways.
LCIF is proud of all that Lions are able to accomplish worldwide! Learn more about the ways that LCIF can help Lions support youth through the Lions Quest program and more on the LCIF website.
The Miskolc First Lady Lions Club in Hungary had a great time celebrating Helen Keller Day earlier this month with blind people in the community. The Lions event invited blind people to join them at a local park for a day of relaxation and exercise, including gymnastics and Nordic walking. Fifty blind people joined in the fun!
Since 1925, when Helen Keller challenged Lions to become “knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness,” sight programs have become a huge part of Lions’ service around the world. These programs include eyeglass recycling, vision screenings, eye banks and more. How does your Lions serve the blind and visually impaired in your community?
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