LIONS CLUBS MAKE A BIG IMPACT WITH SERVICE PROJECTS Lions are Bull(dozer)ish on Access for All Muskegon North Side Lions in Michigan believe that every member of their community should be able to move freely around the many recreational areas that dot their city of nearly 39,000. The 64-member club is known for building wheelchair ramps at no cost for those in need and creating pathways at outdoor recreational areas. Working during scorching 95- to 100-degree days, they completed a 500-foot concrete, ADA-compliant walkway at a park near a complex of middle schools last July. “There was no way for kids to ride their bikes safely to school and for people in wheelchairs to get to the soccer field to watch their kids or grandchildren play,” says Lion Michael O’Lonergan. “The idea came from Ron Hansen, who had a small stroke before construction began. He still managed to be there nearly every day checking our progress.” A local soccer club and the school district contributed funds for materials, but Lions used their own equipment, tools and concrete forms. The project took approximately 800 hours to complete. “Many of us are retired, and we took turns on weekdays and weekends with the guys who are still working. We’re all pretty active, and we like doing these projects,” says O’Lonergan. Welcome Home, Soldiers It was 1968 when San Mateo, California, first adopted the soldiers of Alpha Company in the 101st Airborne Division, known as the Screaming Eagles, who were serving in Vietnam. City employees and residents started sending messages of support and CARE packages to soldiers far from home at the request of a local serviceman. The relationship between the city of San Mateo and Alpha Company has steadfastly continued throughout peacetime and combat, says San Mateo Lion Margaret Baggerly. “The city partnered with the neighboring cities of Burlingame and Hillsborough to commemorate this special relationship by sponsoring a series of events over the 2012 Memorial Day weekend.” Nine clubs in District 4 C4 helped kick off the weekend celebration in an effort spearheaded by San Mateo Lion Michael Chan. Other participating clubs included Burlingame, Foster City, San Carlos, Millbrae, South San Francisco Host and the San Francisco Bayview Hunters Point, Chinatown and Premier Lions Clubs. The weekend was off to a rousing start when Lions descended on the airport to welcome the 101st Airborne soldiers. The next day, nearly 40 Lions and their families participated in the parade by walking more than a mile through the city’s streets. “Crowds cheered as Lions walked past with their Lions banners, flags and welcome home signs,” says Baggerly. Saving Lives in Sierra Leone La Farge, Wisconsin, Lion Joan Kent says a donation her club made to resident Lisa Varnes-Epstein “wasn’t much as far as Lions donations go—$800 to be exact. Ironically, it was about the same amount my husband and I paid for a truck repair.” “But to the women in and near the town of Kabala in Sierra Leone, West Africa, it could mean the difference between life and death for their babies and themselves,” Kent explains. Varnes-Epstein, a physician assistant who is a licensed midwife and midwifery educator, used the donation to purchase items to complete midwife outreach bags and hand delivered the kits on a recent trip. Nurse midwives use the bags when a birth occurs so suddenly that a woman cannot reach the Nar Sarah clinic in Kabala. The clinic is the only medical facility for health care other than a poorly supplied government hospital that serves 250,000 people. La Farge, located in the southwestern part of the state, may be tiny with a population of 726, but its 47-member Lions club sent Varnes- Epstein off to Africa with a huge gift in terms of filling a need. “It’s hard to paint a picture of life in a village in the bush of West Africa,” she says. “The logistical issues are mindboggling. There are no ambulances, no cars; the only transportation is by motorcycle taxi, so it is virtually impossible to transport a woman who is about to give birth.” Lions didn’t think twice about contributing money to her efforts. “We had a respected member of the community who has personal knowledge of the conditions and needs in a faraway land,” explains Lion Dave Russell. “We could see that this relatively small amount of money would do a lot of good in a desperate country.” “According to WHO statistics, the chance of dying from pregnancy complications in Sierra Leone, one of the poorest countries in the world, is one in 23,” Kent says. The donation from La Farge Lions helped purchase a neonatal resuscitator for babies not breathing at birth, reusable umbilical clamps and drugs to stem postpartum hemorrhage. It also helped pay for more mundane but necessary items like plastic gloves, syringes and highquality scissors that can be sterilized and reused. “Rather than use a bag foreign to the culture, she bought tie-dye bags made by Sierra Leone women in the Seeds International Women Against Poverty program,” says Kent. “Two Nar Sarah midwives received outreach bags to keep at their homes in case they are called when the clinic is closed. A third is kept at the clinic so the midwives do not need to take equipment that might be needed there.” Varnes-Epstein gave a fourth bag to the hospital. Varnes-Epstein, a former Peace Corps volunteer who went to Sierra Leone with her husband and children, explains her commitment to that part of the world: “Where there is understanding, there is peace.”
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