AUSTRIA Lunch Tradition Dates From 1988 When Rudy Reiter lets family or friends know he’ll be at lunch—and it’s a Wednesday—they know exactly where to find him. He’s eaten weekly at the historic Café Landtmann in the heart of Vienna since Aug. 16, 1988. And he’s broken bread with thousands of Lions friends, many of whom he’s met for the first time. Reiter, 88, a former zone chairperson, gives new meaning to “let’s do lunch.” A frequent business traveler before retiring, Reiter often had looked up local Lions and gained new friends and insights into fundraising. Knowing that his city was a crossroads for travelers, he began Vienna’s Lions-Luncheon. Since then, 1,360 lunches have hosted 14,000 Lions from 36 nations on five continents. A typical lunch serves 15 to 20 Lions. Many are from the Wien Ostarrichi Lions Club, Reiter’s club, or nearby clubs. Visitors are introduced, given a certificate and banner, and photographed for the guest book. Occasionally, a district governor or other Lions leader will speak or funds will be solicited for a Lions’ cause. But the event is held for Lions to casually chat while getting to sample the café’s delectable Viennese cuisine and distinctive coffees. Founded in 1873, the café has served such notables as Sigmund Freud, Paul McCartney, Hillary Clinton, Burt Lancaster and Marlene Dietrich. Reiter initially publicized the lunch with stories in various LION magazines and through a sign printed in eight languages in front of the restaurant. Fliers and emails sent to clubs and districts as well as word of mouth keep the visitors coming. Five international Lions presidents have been among the visitors. The lunch has been cancelled just once: a terrible storm occurred on an Austrian holiday. An unlucky U.S. Lion who showed up at the café left his name and address, and Reiter latermet him at the international convention in St. Louis. In 2013, the café owners had a giant tart made for the 25th anniversary of the lunch. The lunch shows no signs of slowing down: last year 954 Lions from 11 nations attended. The retired owner of a plastics company, Reiter says he has “attended 92 percent” of the lunches. Most Lions order a two-course meal. Reiter opts for a bowl of soup, brown bread and a cappuccino. MALAYSIA Lions Display Imperial Relics A Lions club in Malaysia sponsored an exhibition on treasures of China including emperors’ robes, seals and snuff bottles. Enticing art lovers to pay the equivalent of $4 each funded the club’s support of cataract operations. The Penang Komtar Lions Club showcased imperial relics from China from the 1800s to the end of the reign in 1912 of Puyi, the last emperor of China. Lions gathered the artifacts from the collections of local and overseas owners. Among the relics were the dragon robe of the emperor’s concubine Zheng, a jade pendant of the last empress Tzu Xi and a 1,000-yearold statue of Kwan Yin, the goddess of mercy. Lions held the exhibition at a cultural center in George Town, the capital of the state of Penang. Admission included talks by experts and screenings of documentaries. The first 500 visitors received a gold-leaf dragon robe calendar card. HUNGARY Hungarian Lions Roll Out Vision Van Lions held 41 vision screenings within a year after receiving a vision van and ophthalmic equipment from German and French Lions. “We were able to reach very poor regions and the boonies too,” says Peter Koleszar, zone chairperson for District 119 in Hungary. With doctors doing the screenings, as required by law, Lions held screenings typically in cultural centers in villages and in retirement homes in cities. Eye health care is available in urban areas, but senior citizens and those with disabilities often are overlooked. In rural areas people cannot afford to travel to clinics to get their vision tested and their eye conditions treated. The vision van included a slit lamp and ophthalmoscope for eye exams, a lensmeter to verify a prescription, a visual acuity chart projector and a tonometer to measure pressure inside the eye to check for glaucoma. Hungarian Lions helped pay for the equipment. The van and equipment cost 41,500 euros (US$51,000). Led by Szombathely Savaria Lions, the first screening was held in conjunction with the Worldwide Day of the Elderly in October. Sixty-three patients were screened. Thirty-nine needed glasses or a new prescription, and nine needed follow-up care.
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