BIG IMPACT WITH LIONS CLUB SERVICE PROJECTS COMMITMENT TO COMMUNITY Show your commitment to community service by inviting more people to join your club. Sponsor an open house to showcase Lions’ activities and membership. Rebuilding Homes and Renewing Lives It may have looked like an episode of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” ...but host Ty Pennington and his crew were nowhere in sight. It may have looked like an episode of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” was filming last year in a neighborhood of Richmond, California, but host Ty Pennington and his crew were nowhere in sight. Hundreds of Lions, Leos and community volunteers instead went to work to repair homes and remake lives. Spearheaded by 2011-12 District 4 C3 Governor Cathy Hudson, Lions collaborated with the nonprofit organization Rebuilding Together, which helps repair low-income homes in need of repair or modification like installing wheelchair ramps. District 4 C6 Lions provided food for the volunteers and health screenings for home owners. Those needing eyeglasses were referred to the Lions Sight Savers program for free eye exams and eyeglasses. Six homes on one block received attention. Repairs would have cost between $4,000 to more than four times that amount per home if not made by volunteers. Rehabbing efforts included painting, electrical, plumbing, roofing, maintenance, landscaping, building a wheelchair ramp and yard work. All homes received smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Ron Hudson, Cathy’s husband and a member of the Dawn Breakers Lions Club, says the huge turnout helped speed repair efforts, which otherwise might have taken as anywhere from two weeks to two months to complete. “There were at least five Leo clubs helping, along with a foreign exchange student from Germany,” he points out. Long-time Berkeley Lion and project chair Michael Mc- Dowell is a general contractor and a member of Rebuilding Together. “I deliberately chose what I thought was the toughest neighborhood, known as the Iron Triangle, in a city that has the most violent reputation in our district and the San Francisco Bay area,” he says. “As one of our recipients, homeowner Cheryl Vaughn, said, ‘From watching the television news, you’d think that every time I stick my head out the front door, there would be bullets whizzing by.’” “I’m sure that more than a few Lions expected there would be a drive-by shooting on the work day,” reminisces McDowell. “What they found was a block where hard-working people like themselves care deeply about their children, their homes and their neighborhood.” If Lions were apprehensive, it didn’t show. More than 250 volunteers came together on January 16, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, for Rebuild Richmond. District 4 C3 Lions contributed more than $92,000 worth of service and goods to complete repairs and beautify the neighborhood. A community garden replaced a garbage-strewn, weed-infested vacant lot and a creek was cleared of debris. Homeowners worked alongside volunteers. “We owe our success to the fact that the neighbors on this block had been working together to create a vision of where they wanted to be. When I contacted them, they had just completed a tree planting project with the city and literally, all parties were wondering how to take the next step. We were the next step because they were already primed for change,” McDowell says. PARTNERSHIPS WORK Partner with other local organizations when needed to increase helping hands at a community event. More people helping means a greater number of people are reached. A Dash of Red Brightens Holidays More than a decade ago Lions in Natoma, Kansas, started a tradition that continues brightening the lives of senior citizens who might otherwise be forgotten during the holidays. They personally deliver greeting cards and bright red poinsettia plants to current and former Natoma residents who are 80 or older. The distribution has expanded to cover three counties—and reaches even further. For those who have moved far away, Lions send a cheerful card reminding them that they are remembered during the holiday season. “The project idea came from Lion Arthur Hachmeister more than a decade ago,” says Laah Tucker, who helped deliver the plants to homes. “At 92, he continues to be an active member and helps organize the current listings and addresses [of recipients]. “Our membership is diverse in age with a spread of about 60 years, from the 30s to the 90s. We continue to persevere in this tiny rural community in the heartland.” Natoma Lion Laah Tucker gives a poinsettia to Thurlene Ruggels of nearby Russell, Kansas, who was one of 40 senior citizens to receive a plant. Santa Arrives in Style Chartered in 2010, the Lincoln Hills Lions Club in California didn’t wait for an invitation to get started on community service. In fact, Lions from the 31-member club were off and running immediately, collecting for a toy drive to benefit kids whose parents are members of the armed forces. The toy drive began when a local softball player in a senior league heard that many service men and women who were deployed had so little money that their families didn’t receive Christmas gifts. Lion Robert Olin explains what happened next. “He made a call to Beale Air Force Base, which is located 10 miles from us, and found out about a toy drive at Beale. This was the beginning of our connection to Beale.” Another member of the softball group, Karl Wenzler, who with his wife, Marlene, is also a charter member of the Lincoln Hills Lions Club, believed a partnership between the two groups would result in a sizable collection of toys for the base’s children. Last year, the two groups received some help from a third source—the California Highway Patrol. “The California Highway Patrol in Newcastle helped with the toys since someone broke into a container that was to go to Beale from our ‘Toys for Troops’ Kids’ drive and stole and destroyed the toys,” Olin says. Every member of the club participates in the toy drive and most help out at a party sponsored by Lions and softball players, held inside a giant hangar on base. Santa, a volunteer who starts growing out his beard in April, arrives as a passenger in a sleek U-2 aircraft, a high-altitude reconnaissance plane—to the delight of the cheering crowd of children, parents and volunteers.
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