THE LIONS CHANGED MY LIFE A Dream Comes Into Focus In 1989 Nancy Sheldon left the comforts of home in Michigan for an impoverished, remote area in eastern Guatemala. She was unsure what the future held, except that she was on a mission to serve people in need. Sheldon founded the nonprofit Servant Ministries and has been tirelessly working to help Guatemalans through services such as teaching job skills, building homes, providing access to clean water and offering medical care. Sheldon had long dreamed of having an optical clinic, but had not been able to secure the equipment and expertise needed. Friends connected her with the Graham Lions Club in Texas, and within eight months volunteers—led by Graham Lion Charlie Bazan—were in Guatemala to set up the clinic. Servant Ministries now provides vision care to people who have never had it before. Q&A: Nancy Sheldon LION Magazine: Why is being able to provide vision care so important? Nancy Sheldon: It was always our desire to one day offer optical services because if you look around, almost no one wears glasses…and it isn’t because they all have perfect vision! It’s just because they cannot afford to do anything about their impaired vision. LM: How did the training go? NS: By the time the group arrived in Guatemala, they had made a concise and easy-to-understand manual that walked us through the steps. We started out practicing on our workers, pastors and their families. Having the Texas team here made all the difference in the world for making the clinic materialize and become “doable.” LM: What equipment and supplies did you receive to get started? NS: The Lions [via the Texas Eyeglass Recycling Center] sent us 3,800 pairs of glasses. We now have our eye charts, focometer and machine to adjust the glasses. The equipment is portable so we hope to provide vision services out of town and even reach people up in the mountains. LM:Will the Lions stay involved with your clinic? NS: We’ll be keeping the Lions informed on our progress. When we use a few hundred pairs of glasses we’ll let the Graham Lions know and they’ll replace the inventory. LM: Do you hope to expand your services? NS: Lion Charlie Bazan is overseeing a fundraising effort to add to our equipment—we would like to offer eye care to children, but we’ll need to make our own glasses. This is another dream we hope to fulfill in the future! LM: What does it mean for the people you serve to receive this care? NS: It means seeing the joy on someone’s face when they realize how much better they can see. It means helping someone to read again who hasn’t been able to for years. It means giving a woman back the ability to thread a needle and sew. I am so very thankful to all who have made the clinic a reality. Lions: have you heard from a beneficiary or a recipient of your kindness, service or charity? Tell us about the feedback you receive from those whose lives you’ve changed for the better. E-mail a brief description of your correspondence to email@example.com. Please include “Thanks and Appreciation” in the subject line.
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