Lions Work with Inmates NEW ZEALAND: Inmates honed their carpentry skills, a Lions club raised funds for its charities and a family received a fanciful wooden playhouse. Those were the benefits of a three-way partnership between Manawatu Prison in New Zealand, the Feilding Lions and a school in Rewanui. Inmates whose release is near built the A-frame playhouse in a construction course at Manawatu Prison. Members of the Fielding Lions Club, a 29-member club chartered in 1961, then partnered with Rewanui Kindergarten to auction the sturdy, Gothic-style mini-house. Clubs Help Babies Survive ROMANIA: Clara Maria weighed just 800 grams (1.75 pounds) when born at 29 weeks on Feb. 3 to Diana Chinello, 34, of Romania. Her baby’s precarious health was particularly heart-wrenching to her because she suffered a miscarriage of twins two years ago. Fortunately, little Clara Maria was one of the first beneficiaries of a sophisticated ventilator donated by Lions to the maternity ward at Timisoara County Hospital. The hospital had lacked key equipment to keep babies alive until Lions recently donated state-of-the-art medical equipment. The ventilator alone cost 18,000 euros ($25,000). Clara Maria remains under medical care. But her weight is up to 1,250 grams (2.75 pounds), and her outlook is promising. “We take it one day at a time. I can hardly wait to hold her in my arms and go home with our princess,” says Chinello, who runs her own company. Two Lions clubs in Timisoara, a city of 320,000 in western Romania, raised thousands of euros from a charity ball to help purchase medical equipment both for the Timisoara County Hospital and the Louis Turcanu Children’s Hospital in Timisoara. The all-male Timisoara Lions Club counts 36 members, and 21 members belong to the all-female Timisoara Iris Lions Club. In its 20 years the Timisoara Lions Club has saved or improved vision for many people. It financed a mobile vision van to do screenings and hand out eyeglasses in the countryside and sponsored a guide dog for a teacher at a school for the blind. The club also supports a senior home and feeds the hungry. Both the clubs have doctors as members. “We contacted the hospital about their needs. It was a difficult choice because other projects were submitted to us, but we are convinced we made the right choice,” says Misca Tomas Remus, president. No Whining About this Project HUNGARY: Two dozen blind people picked grapes for a day at a prestigious French-owned winery in Hungary’s famed wine region, and the end result was 350 bottles of first-rate wine. Sales of the wine will buy tools and devices to make everyday life easier for the blind. Peter Koleszar, vice president of the Miskolc Lions Club, has not drunk the wine yet, but the vinery’s winemakers have. “They told us: it was perfect,” says Koleszar. Forty-five Lions from five clubs labored in the Disznoko vineyard alongside the blind people including Lions from Slovakia and the Czech Republic. A Lion is the director of the vineyard, located in the Tokaj region in northeastern Hungary. The wine region was recognized as a World Heritage site in 2002. The crew proved to be adept at their task, picking 700 kilograms of grapes (1,543 pounds) with a harvesting scissor. “It was very hard for them to work with the scissors. But our blind friends learned to use the tool very fast,” says Koleszar. Children who have endured long stays at hospitals designed the wine bottle labels as a pleasant artistic diversion. The wine will be sold at an auction. A bottle is expected to sell from $15 to $30. Perhaps the best part of the Lions’ project was the opportunity for the blind to enjoy the outdoors. “They enjoyed the day very well,” says Koleszar. “Some of them smelt the fresh grape for the first time in their life.” Entrepreneurial Spirit Is in Fashion SWEDEN: It was no accident that the Ostersund Brunkullan Lions Club ran a trade show for female entrepreneurs. Many of the 33 members of the all-women’s club run their own businesses. Twenty-eight companies involving interior design, jewelry, flowers, health foods, ceramics, fabrics, beauty products and the arts participated. “The turnout was more than we had hoped for. The exhibition was very successful,” says Past District Governor Annica Nordell, who runs her own deli and catering business. The club still held its traditional fashion show as part of the event as well as a display of the work of three artists. Lions called their daylong event Beautiful Sunday. Proceeds went to the Lions Cancer Research Fund at Umea University. Pedaling the Wheel of Health INDIA: Before the dawn light hundreds of bicyclists hit the streets near Mumbai. Lions and traffic police lined the route to ensure the riders’ safety or to encourage the riders. Altogether, more than 1,200 cyclists took part in the event, called Burn Fat, Not Fuel, and Drive the Wheel of Good Health. The 16.4 kilometer ride (10 miles) was organized by the 176-member Juhu Lions Club, one of the most active clubs in the area. More than 100 Lions volunteered for the event, which raised funds from corporate sponsors, and an estimated 1,000 spectators watched the cyclists. The Juhu Leo Club also recently caused a stir by sponsoring a movie for needy children in a multiplex. Nearly 200 children watched “Phata Poster Nikla Hero.” The youths “munched popcorn and sipped that Pepsi,” according to the club bulletin. “The children were dancing with complete joy after the movie.” Digital LION The bike ride raised the visibility of Lions–a longtime concern of clubs. Learn how a Lions international president weighed in on public relations in the LION in 1965, the era of “Mad Men,” at www.lionmagazine.org. Irish Music Legend Aided Lions IRELAND: Friends and peers raised a pint to Mick Lavelle. He was a gifted musician and singer of traditional Irish music, a charming raconteur of boisterous stories and a loyal friend always ready with a word or two or three of advice or encouragement. The local musical legend also was a friend of charity. For nearly 20 years he donated the proceeds of his tapes and CDs to the Westport Lions Club in County Mayo. After he died last year, the club held a night of music, dance and storytelling in his honor at Matt Mulloy’s pub, where he sang and told stories nearly every night. “We could have filled the room twice. But to keep it nostalgic we held it in the pub that Mick loved,” says Joan Collins, president of the Westport Lions. In his 80s when he died, Lavelle was most famous for his recording of “The Lotto,” a song about a man who dreams he won the lottery. He often performed on television and radio in Ireland. Befitting his renown, he was crowned Ireland’s King of the Culchies (country people) at the national Culchie Festival in 1991. Westport Lions themselves travel in well-known circles. The club has co-sponsored the Mayo International Choral Festival and the International Rose of Tralee Festival, which gathers young women of Irish descent. Matt Mulloy’s is owned by the Chieftans, a well-known Irish band. The tribute to Lavelle drew more than 20 performing groups. The night ended at 1. “That was early by our standards, but it was held midweek,” says Collins.
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