Indiana Lions Work Together for Sight Marty Juel, an Elkhart Lion in Indiana and 2014-15 district 25 G governor, says he’s had many heartwrenching moments during his 14 missions to the poorest parts of Mexico to fit people with eyeglasses. District Lions dispense thousands of glasses during each trip, but he recalls one child in particular. “I work in the fitting area, where we make final adjustments to fit the glasses to the individuals’ heads. We can bend and shape them to fit just about anyone. One year, one of the other fitters passed on a young boy, probably 7 or 8 years old, and asked me to handle it. I told him he could do it just as easily, and then I saw that the ear on the other side of his head, away from my view, was severely deformed. There was no exterior part of the ear on his head,” Juel reveals. He was only momentarily perplexed. “I finally found a sports-like string that attaches to the glasses and showed his mother how to tighten the glasses on his head.” It worked. “Our group does it all. We collect, clean, read and repair glasses ourselves,” he says. “We have ‘wash-athons’ with Lions from several clubs coming together to clean and sort glasses. This is a 12-month program, and involves a lot more Lions than just the 22 or so who participate on the actual mission.” Lions own two lensometers and computers that read and print prescriptions on the labels to attach to plastic bags for each pair. Some Indiana Lions speak articulate Spanish, but Juel admits he’s not one of them. “I do speak Spanish,” he explains, “but not fluently.” He does, however, speak it well enough to promote the eyeglass missions as a frequent guest of Spanish-language television and radio stations in Mexico and has been interviewed by Mexican newspapers. “I’m able to determine most questions, and I usually have standard comments. I don’t think I’ve gotten into trouble yet!” he says. A Beacon of Literacy Tiny Protection Island sits in the middle of the Nanaimo Harbour in British Columbia, Canada. Home to about 300 residents, the heavily-forested island can only be reached by water since there’s no bridge. It’s a 5-minute ferry trip to the island, where golf carts and bikes are the most popular modes of transportation. While Protection Island may not have a connection to the mainland, it does have a strong connection with Lions. Considered part of the City of Nanaimo, Lions established a club on the island in 1983. Tackling their biggest project yet, the 22-member Protection Island Lions Club created a library by revamping an old storage area in the basement of Beacon House Community Hall. The Beacon Library now serves residents as more than simply a book repository. “It’s become a social hub,” says Sharie Biller. “Building the library was an essential part of strengthening our island community.” Residents sponsored their own fundraisers, some selling baked goods and plants. They also worked side by side with Lions to demolish the community center basement space, taking it down to the studs and rebuilding it as a library with enough shelves to stock more than 3,000 books and 650 DVDs, some donated by islanders and the Nanaimo library. Lions bought others at used bookstores and thrift shops at bargain prices, with some even purchased at a Rotary club book sale, says Biller. “We have a 624-square-foot library space that’s bright and open,” she adds. Included is a sitting area for adults, one for children, a bathroom and a coffee and tea counter. Volunteers staff the library under the direction of four retired librarians. Lions maintain the building, but the librarians maintain the books and computerized catalog system. Lions Keep Park Promises With an average age of 66, the members of the Key Peninsula Lions Club in Washington are proving themselves to be anything but average. In 2005, Lions promised to help the Key Peninsula Park District develop one of its properties by building a picnic shelter. They haven’t stopped. George Robison’s son, Ed, a licensed civil and structural engineer, prepared plans for a picnic shelter free of charge, and the club was able to use cleared timber from another park area to build it. The younger Robison was, in fact, so enthusiastic about helping Lions develop their first park site that he became a parks commissioner. “The day the roof went up on the picnic shelter, families were using it,” points out Hugh McMillan, a charter member of the club established in 1983. It was just the first of several large park projects Lions embraced. “We became involved in several major projects, including funding and building a retaining wall with 2,500 concrete blocks, building another 800-block wall and providing labor and supervision for a five-tier retaining wall, this one using 5,000 blocks,” McMillan says. The biggest wall took a month to complete, and Lions enlisted some paid labor to work with them through a Job Corps program. Lions built concrete picnic tables and benches and some additional seating along hiking trails in a park used extensively for hiking, bicycling and horseback riding. “We call some of the seats ‘toadstools’ because that’s what they resemble providing single person seating,” Robison says. “The concrete picnic tables and benches are fairly inexpensive, about $100 for a table and two benches.” Club members built five sets of tables and benches, plus miscellaneous seating around the park, spending about $1,000. “The Key Peninsula juts out into the southern waters of Puget Sound. It’s approximately 20 miles long and up to eight miles wide,” says Robison. “Its name is derived from the key-like shape of the peninsula. Our Lions club is the only international service club organization on the peninsula.” Lions have worked on several parks, and are now intent on keeping them all in pristine condition by eradicating the invasive Scotch broom. “This is an invasive species that can get rapidly out of hand,” says McMillan. Members have held one work party and plan more with community volunteers to identify and rid a park of the noxious plant.
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