Lions in Liberty City, Iowa, a small city of 11,000, recently screened 21 children for vision problems, normally an admirable, routine day of service. But one of those children turned out to be the 1 millionth child screened through LCIF’s Core 4 grant program supporting screening. Yet the real stars of the day were a mother and child from last year’s screening. Janan Rustan came to thank Lions for screening her son Grant, 4. A followup screening revealed that Grant was at risk for ambloypia (lazy eye), the leading cause of blindness in children. After wearing a patch over his left eye for a few months, doctors expect he will have 20/20 vision. “I cannot thank the Lions enough. We simply had no idea; he never complained of any problems. He would’ve been blind in the eye by age 9 if it had gone untreated and undetected,” his mother said. Screenings are a way of life for Lions. Lions nationwide held vision and health screenings and education campaigns in connection with United We Serve Health Week, August 10-16. A public call for community service from President Barak Obama and the Corporation for National Community Service, United We Serve concluded Sept. 11. Although the economy is down, volunteer efforts are up, according to the 2009 Volunteering in America report. Nearly 62 million Americans volunteered with an organization in 2008, up one million from 2007. “Through Lions’ example in service this summer, we hope to encourage more Americans to make an ongoing commitment to volunteering throughout the year,” said Al Brandel, LCIF chairperson, who attended the screening in North Liberty. Last year, the average Lions club provided 739 volunteer service hours to the community. This represents an estimated worldwide total of 33 million volunteer service hours provided by Lions. Brenda Nichols, a 53-year-old Raleigh Bartlett, Tennessee resident, has been volunteering more with the Mid- South Lions since she was laid off by in May. Vision screenings became especially important to Brenda after she almost lost her sight to keratoconus, a disease of the cornea, and underwent double cornea transplants. “The work that Lions do is so important,” says Nichols. “I encourage people not to take their sight for granted. After almost losing mine and living functionally blind for seven years, I realize that the gift of sight is something that often goes unnoticed until it is gone.” Lions in Memphis, Tennessee recently screened 102 needy adults and children for refractive errors, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and low vision in the Lions mobile sight van, and complicated cases were referred to the Mid- South Lions Clinic at the Hamilton Eye Institute. LCIF also provided funding for seven surgeries for low-income patients including a cornea transplant, a cataract surgery and multiple diabetic retinopathy laser treatments. In Reston, Virginia, Lions partnered with the Jeanie Schmidt Free Clinic to screen 99 people without insurance or who were underinsured, testing for glaucoma and hearing loss in the Lions’ two mobile screening vans. Community members joined Reston Lions call to serve that day, and five new Lions members were recruited. In Gaithersburg, Maryland, Lions held nine days of vision and hearing screenings at the state fair. More than 100 Lions volunteered, screening approximately 500 people, including 136 preschool-aged children. Lions also garnered 24 potential new members.
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