LIONS CLUBS MAKE A BIG IMPACT WITH SERVICE PROJECTS TELL YOUR STORY Use photos to create a scrapbook your club can display at public events to show how active Lions are in the community. Lions Partner with Schools Students and staff in the Windham public schools in Connecticut collected 133 eyeglasses for the Willimantic Lions Club. Included were reading glasses, sunglasses and prescription lenses. “Fliers about this project were written in English and Spanish and given to more than 3,000 students and staff,” says Dr. Charles Wynn, 2012-13 club president. Each school had a coordinator for the collection. “The project theme was Working Together to Help Others See Better,” adds Lion Colin Rice. “Each coordinator received a copy of the Lions’ DVD, ‘New Glasses, New Life,’ about a Lions in Sight vision clinic in Mexico.” In addition to collecting eyeglasses for missions to other countries, Lions also support the Lions Low Vision Center, Fidelco Guide Dogs, Connecticut Lions Eye Research Foundation, a soup kitchen and a hospital. “We raise money by sponsoring three pancake breakfasts a year, a Journey for Sight Walkathon, food booths at local fairs and coin shows, and selling candy in local stores,” Rice says. Dictionary Gift Defines Lions’ Generosity Dictionaries distributed by members of the Sebastian Lions Club in Florida to students and faculty of the Sebastian Charter Junior High School may cost only $2 apiece but are proving to be priceless when it comes to challenging young minds. “We had previously shown an example of the dictionary to the school’s principal and said that we could provide them at no expense to the school, its students or faculty,” says Lion Charles Smits. “Naturally, after examining a sample the answer was a resounding ‘Yes, we would love to have them!’” Lions gave 186 dictionaries to students and 19 to faculty members. Titled “A Student’s Dictionary,” the paperbacks include not only an extensive dictionary but also contain a copy of the U.S. Constitution, Declaration of Independence, the Pledge of Allegiance, biographies of U. S. presidents and information on the 50 states. “There is information about countries and locations from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. The book also has a table of weights and measures, facts about the planets and maps of the seven continents. One of the pages shows the alphabet in sign language and one shows the alphabet in Braille,” Smits points out. “The back page has the longest word in the English language, and it takes up the whole page.” Smits says Lions’ literacy projects include purchasing books in Braille, renewing a subscription to National Geographic for the library and donating books to the school library for parents to read with their children. Leos also pitch in to promote literacy by collecting books for the local Boys & Girls Club. Club members are so encouraged by the enthusiasm students, staff and parents have shown that they plan to expand the project to other schools. Restoring a Natural Habitat The 103 members of the Dewey Beach Lions Club in Delaware looked a bit closer to home recently to find their next big service project. Marshy wetlands, adjacent to the Lions clubhouse, had been long disregarded. The area was a festering stew of rotting garbage, debris and invasive plants choking any remaining natural plant life. “The wetlands had been taken over by phragmites [a reedy plant that can grow up to 15 feet tall],” says Bill Zolper, who helped lead the Lions cleanup campaign. “Debris deposited on the wetlands over many years from storms and trash dumped there posed quite a challenge for our club.” Since the state owns the land, Lions had to first obtain permission for any work on the one-acre lot to proceed. Lion Ron Krajewski helped secure those rights and another club member, Larry Tush, described as “a real hands-on guy” by Zolper, coordinated the club’s cleanup efforts. Fifteen years ago, Lions built a playground next to the marshland and still maintain it. “We looked at the adjoining wetlands area as an extension of our playground that would provide an educational park on Rehoboth Bay for children and adults,” Zolper explains. Two years of planning culminated in a two-day clearing last year of the wetlands in order to restore its natural habitat. Members using rakes, shovels and earth-moving equipment they supplied themselves hauled out more than five tons of debris including an abandoned boat trailer, broken glass bottles and old wood. Lions recycled what they could as an added environmental push. “We installed osprey and duck nesting boxes and bird houses in order to bring back our waterfowl life. The removal and treatment of invasive plants is an ongoing maintenance program,” says Zolper. Fiddler crabs are now reproducing in the former blighted lot, and warblers and finches stop by to gorge on seeds thoughtfully provided by Lions. The club invested nearly $12,000 during the two years prior to the cleanup project, and is now responsible for future annual maintenance costs of approximately $2,100 paid to local firm Envirotech. “We’re waiting to see how our wetlands recover to its natural state before considering any other future improvements,” Zolper adds. “We are now thankful we didn’t make any further improvements. They would have been washed away as were other wooden walkways and piers during Superstorm Sandy.” The wetlands now thrive as an educational outreach park for the public to enjoy. Lions also clean and maintain an eight-block beach area and work with the nonprofit Center for Inland Bays, earning last year’s Volunteer Partner of the Year Award for their commitment to the community’s inland bays. by Pamela Mohr WELCOME NEW INTEREST Extend a friendly invitation to a new member of the community to visit your club to learn about Lions. PICK PARTNERS Unite with other groups on large-scale projects to serve a bigger percentage of the population. Schools, churches, first responders and other clubs are all excellent sources of collaboration for service activities. INSPIRE AND MENTOR If your club doesn’t already sponsor a Leo club, consider doing so to inspire a new generation of community service leaders.
Published by International Association of Lions Clubs . View All Articles.
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