Lions clubs make a big impact with service projects Safety First Aquia Evening Lions in Virginia know that kids don’t always pay attention to the rules of the road. In fact, they don’t always pay attention to bike safety, so it’s a good thing that Lions do. For the last two years, Lions have sponsored the Aquia Harbor Bike Safety Rodeo. The first year, 32 kids showed up; that number grew to more than 50 the second year. Rachida McCravey, 2011-12 club president, recalls how excited children were to be participating last year. “Many of the kids enjoyed it so much that we found them riding the course over and over. Age made no difference. They were so proud to show off their bikes and demonstrate how well they could follow the bike safety route with the guidance provided to them.” The rodeo was open to kids between the ages of 5 and 12. Bicycle shop employees provided bike and helmet inspections before the kids embarked on the seven-stage safety course. Young riders learned how to make proper hand signals, avoid road hazards like rocks and debris and stay safe while starting, stopping and riding. Police and fire rescue squad members were on hand to answer questions and help direct the kids on the course along with Lions. Participants were eligible to win door prizes provided by Lions that included helmets, bike accessories and gift certificates. Kids Roar their Approval Members of the Portugal Cove-St. Philips Lions Club in Newfoundland, Canada, focus many of their service projects on children at the Beachy Cove Elementary School. They spent $5,900 on a new electronic smart board for a classroom and a handicapped-accessible swing on the playground, paid for Medic Alert monitoring for students with life-threatening conditions and support Scout and Guide troops. When Lions recently purchased a new lion costume to help promote the club at local events and parades, it seemed only fitting that the kids were given naming rights to the club’s new mascot. A fourth-grade class came up with the winning entry chosen by Lions—Phillyco, a clever reworking of the rural seashore community’s name. Tools of the Trade Iowa Lions in District 9 EC know their way around tools. They should. For the past 10 years, members of the Tipton and Stanwood Lions Clubs have worked side-by-side building wheelchair ramps for people in need. Tipton Lion Keith Whitlatch says 52 ramps have been built by Lions for people with either permanent or temporary disabilities. The most recent ramp was built for a woman who sustained two broken legs in a car crash. “So a ramp was needed—and fast,” Whitlatch says. When the ramp isn’t needed anymore, Lions will dismantle it and use the parts for another one. All ramps are constructed according to local codes and the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act. If a ramp is needed in a town with a Lions club, Whitlatch, a past district governor and project chair, contacts Lions for their assistance. “I’ve always had an ample and willing crew of workers,” he points out. Community volunteers often help, too. The club only owns one tool, a gas-powered auger to dig the usual eight to 10 holes the average ramp needs. “Most of our crew have a good line of power tools. Our No. 1 tool is a drill since we don’t use a single nail in the project. This makes for easier removal if we need to dismantle the ramp.” Whitlatch says the majority of volunteers aren’t professional carpenters. “We have farmers, retired law enforcement personnel, a plumber, mechanic, lawyer, a clerical worker, a college student, retired school administrator, Realtors, business people…and this is not a ‘good old boys’ group,” he emphasizes. “On a recent ramp building, two of our main workers were young women.” Material costs, generally reimbursed by the state or another agency since caseworkers contact Lions for ramp building, can be from $750 to nearly twice that amount. nearly twice that amount. “Some of our older workers are in their upper 70s or early 80s. One recently turned 88 and was on ‘active duty’ until last year. Another Lion was past 90 when he put away his portable drill,” Whitlatch says. “The work is physically demanding, but our workers perform to their physical level and after a day or two, have recovered and are ready for the next ramp to be built.”
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