Touchstone Story: Recycle the Earth

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Lions can be found on the front lines of local recycling projects all around the world, reclaiming everything from scrap metal and old newspapers to medical devices and used cell phones.

The recycling effort Lions are best known for is the Recycle for Sight Program, which collects millions of used eyeglasses yearly for distribution in developing countries, where eye care is unaffordable or inaccessible for many people.

Simple and effective, the pioneering program that started in the 1930s remains a high-profile and frequently praised symbol of Lion practicality and service to others. “Unwanted or outdated eyeglasses, tucked away in drawers or closets, can make a tremendous difference in the life of someone in need,” Abigail Van Buren told readers of her syndicated “Dear Abby” column in 1996. The Lion eyeglass initiative is a “wonderful program,” she added.

Building on the success of that initiative, Lions in the early 2000s launched the Hearing Aid Recycling Program, which similarly collects and refurbishes donated hearing aids for distribution to those who lack funds to buy them.

Over time, however, Lions have taken up more conventional recycling chores, often led by Lions Green Teams. Around the globe, Lions Green Teams regularly gather and recycle huge quantities of scrap metal, paper, and other reusable projects. Each April, Lions dedicate a month of service to protecting the planet as part of the Global Service Action Campaign. The campaign’s recycling efforts help save energy, reduce the amount of trash sent to landfills and conserve dwindling natural resources.

In Turkey, the Bursa Koza Lions Club collects plastic bottles for recycling “in order to prevent pollution of the environment and nature,” said club member Nuket Tuzlacioglu.

Recycling has another attraction for some clubs: Besides their environmental benefit, recycling programs often generate revenue that Lions can use to fund other good works.

In Arizona, the Prescott Noon Lions Club has collected and shipped nearly 53 million pounds of recyclable newsprint and other paper. By collecting newspapers and magazines in bins all around town, the club has raised more than US$200,000 to support local charities.

“If the paper is recycled, that means we don’t cut down as many trees,” explained Prescott Noon Lion Bill Parker.

In India, the Aldona Lions Club launched a garbage reduction program in local schools. Officials noted the plan was “converting waste to wealth,” as the schools benefited from funds raised by the sale of recyclable materials. In Penn Yan, a village in upstate New York, local Lions asked neighbors in the Finger Lake region to “help us help others by donating your scrap metal so we can recycle it and turn it into cash.”

Recycling work can be difficult, but the benefits to the community and the earth make the effort worthwhile.

View the full collection of Touchstone Stories on Lions100.org!

A visually-impaired man and woman stand in the hallway at Lions Vision Center at the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute.

Help and Hope are Just a Phone Call Away

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Will Jackson was only 18 years old when he was diagnosed with glaucoma. He came to terms with his poor vision, and for more than 30 years he has lived a relatively ordinary life. He has two sons and a fiancé, loves to cook and has mastered using public transportation to travel around Baltimore.

But recently,  Jackson found it increasingly difficult to do everyday activities such as reading the newspaper, reviewing bills and writing checks. When his ophthalmologist recommended he seek low-vision rehabilitation services at the Lions Vision Center within the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute in Baltimore, Jackson didn’t think there would be much they could do for him. He had adapted to living with glaucoma so well that he had never sought assistance outside of his eye doctor. Nevertheless, he made an appointment to see a low-vision specialist.

A few days later, Jackson received a phone call from Past District Governor Ken Chew. He called on behalf of the Low Vision Rehabilitation Network (LOVRNET), an initiative of the Lions of Multiple District (MD) 22 and a partner of the Lions Vision Center. Lions LOVRNET is a model for a new community-based healthcare program to address the current shortage of low-vision rehabilitation services in Delaware, Maryland and the District of Columbia. The program creates a single referral resource for both eye care providers and patients and coordinates care by matching patients to appropriate trained service providers in their area.

The phone screening interview with Chew took about an hour. Jackson learned about tasks that he could get help with and tools that were available to him. Special cameras, magnifying glasses and even a talking watch could help him remain self-sufficient. With the help of adaptive tools from the Lions Vision Center, Jackson hopes to one day be able to watch a football game. “The experience has been personal. I get to talk to people and laugh with them,” he explains. “It’s more than just filling out forms at a doctor’s office. I feel like a person, not a number.”

The Lions of MD 22 received a US$567,647 SightFirst grant to establish the Lions LOVRNET. In addition to developing a single referral resource, Lions LOVRNET also trains and supports local optometrists, ophthalmologists and other eye care providers so they can offer high quality and effective low-vision rehabilitation services as part of their practices.

The LOVRNET project was inspired by a previous collaboration between MD 22 and Johns Hopkins to develop a public education program on low vision and blindness. That effort, supported by an LCIF US$200,000 Core 4 grant, mobilized local Lions to educate the community on eye health and low-vision rehabilitation.

The unexpected value for Lions, according to Chew, is connecting to people on the other end of the line. “I have been a Lion for almost 25 years. My club is great at raising money and writing checks—and that’s important. But connecting with people is important, too,” says Chew. “Seeing a patient’s journey is a reminder of the impact we’re having. We have the potential to do a lot of good.”

Jackson’s eyesight may be impaired, but his vision of living a self-reliant life is thriving. With Lions and LCIF on his side, his future is bright. To find out how your district or multiple district can help address the need for low-vision services in your area, visit lcif.org. To learn more about Lions LOVRNET, visit lovrnet.org.

This article originally appeared in the April 2016 issue of LION Magazine.

Senior Citizens Dancing at Prom

Leos Invite Seniors to Prom

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April is Leo Club Awareness Month! To celebrate and recognize Leo clubs, the Lions Blog will feature stories about Leo service projects around the world. Today’s story was written by Leo Club Program Advisory Panelist, Kyle Boutilier.

In the past month, my home club, the Kwantlen Park Leo Club, has had the opportunity to take part in some outstanding service projects. The Kwantlen Park Leo Club is based at Kwantlen Park Secondary School in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada. The newly created Surrey Central Lions Club sponsors them. On March 2nd, my Leo club celebrated its 5th birthday and we look forward to the next five years and beyond!

Senior Citizens Seated at Prom

This February, the Leos continued with their annual senior citizens prom on February 13th, 2016. This is the second year running of this project and the dance was met with enthusiasm and success. The seniors (55+) of Surrey boogied the night away and enjoyed a delicious meal! Approximately 80 people attended and enjoyed the dancing, prizes and of course food. A local business provided the music and the City of Surrey co-sponsored the event with the KP Leos! The planning of the project began in January and posters and decorations were hand made by the members of the Kwantlen Park Leos Club. The many hours of making posters, planning, and promoting the dance was well worth it as the seniors gave rave reviews. This project helped demonstrate to the seniors that young people are very passionate and care about their elders.

Other Leo Clubs can organize a similar project in their community by seeking the support of local businesses and the municipal government. A good mix of passion, hard work, and enthusiasm can make this project successful in any community.

The Leo Club Program gives young people the opportunity to serve their communities, develop leadership skills, make new friends and have fun! Learn more about the Leo Club Program and find out how to start a Leo club in your community.   

Young Boy Brushing Teeth

Leos Teach Local Children About Dental Hygiene

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April is Leo Club Awareness Month! To celebrate and recognize Leo clubs, the Lions Blog will feature stories about Leo service projects around the world. Today’s story comes from the Bali Shanti Leo Club in Indonesia. This Omega Leo club, sponsored by the Bali Surya Host Lions Club, will celebrate its 3 year anniversary next month.

In December 2015, the Bali Shanti Leo Club held an event called “Action Day with Leo.” On this special day, Leos participated in several service activities including a dental hygiene program for children.  In the morning, Leos taught 168 primary school students about proper dental hygiene. Together with the students, Leos practiced brushing their teeth. Leos also provided the students with their own toothbrushes, toothpaste, and milk. “They were really excited with this activity because this is the first time they learned how to brush teeth properly,” said a Leo volunteer.

Leos demonstrate proper dental hygiene

Through activities like this, Leo clubs bring hope and laughter to children in need around the globe. Leo clubs that plan and implement projects to enrich the lives of children are eligible to receive a Spotlight on Children banner patch. Learn more about Spotlight on Children on LCI’s website.


LCIF Awards 7 Disaster Relief and Emergency Grants, March 2016

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When natural disasters strike, Lions are there to offer help and support. In times of need, Lions rely on disaster relief grants and funds from Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF). Emergency grants provide up to US$10,000 for districts impacted by a natural disaster that has affected at least 100 people, including tornadoes, hurricanes, floods and tsunamis.

In March 2016, LCIF awarded 7 emergency and disaster relief grants totaling US$70,000. These grants are addressing immediate needs in:

Ecuador, District G 2
$10,000 for flood relief

Louisiana, USA, District 8 L
$10,000 for flood relief

Louisiana, USA, District 8 I
$10,000 for flood relief

Brazil, District LC 2
$10,000 for flood relief

Louisiana, USA, District 8 O
$10,000 for flood relief

Brazil, District LC 5
$10,000 for flood relief

Mississippi, USA, District 30 M
$10,000 for flood reliefA woman wearing her yellow Lions vest holds an infant boy and relief materials


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