The Sounds of Joy When 15-year-old Brooke McArdle of Brookfield, Wisconsin, wanted to earn the Gold Award, attained by only 5 percent of Girl Scouts, she knew where to look—about 147 miles northwest to the Wisconsin Lions Camp in Rosholt. With the help of family and friends, she created an interactive sensory play wall where blind and visually handicapped campers can bang and clang away on a variety of recycled household objects like pots and pans. “I selected this project because I was born blind in my left eye and am visually impaired,” says McArdle. “I know the struggles trying to overcome a physical disability every day.” She hasn’t attended the camp, but family friends have a cognitively disabled daughter who has been a participant. Brooke and her mother, Joyce, were familiar with the camp’s service to children and teens of different abilities. “We made two trips to the camp totaling 912 miles,” says Joyce McArdle. “The actual project installation took five volunteers and Brooke 30 hours to complete. It was a lot of physical labor, but using that power auger was so much fun!” The sensory wall is 6 feet high by 8 feet wide and cost a little less than $500 to build. “We try to promote greater self-confidence and independence here,” says Rosholt Lion Cecily Filtz of the camp. “We all thought the wall could bring a lot of joy into campers’ lives. We didn’t assist with any funding. It was all Brooke.” The wall gives campers a chance to feel and hear what they touch. “It’s a lot of clanging noises, mixed in with some wind chimes and many other sounds. The kids all love it,” she points out. Lions invited Brooke back to see how campers are making use of her project. “A young blind girl stood up with her cane in hand and politely said, ‘Brooke, you’re amazing! I love you for making this for us,’” recalls Filtz. “She asked Brooke if she could shake her hand. Then she grabbed her and pulled her in for a huge hug.” Clean Stream Team Tackles Tough Jobs Nancy Messmer, Multiple District 19 environmental chair and a Clallam Bay-Sekiu Lion, says the trick to successful environmental projects in the Pacific Northwest is to have “lots of volunteers”—and maybe a little hope in their hearts for clear skies and sunlight. “It’s often cold, wet and arduous,” she says about Washington’s notoriously fickle weather. Fortunately for the environment, Lions aren’t easily deterred by a few showers when it comes to taking environmental action, one of the association’s four Global Service Action Campaigns. Last fall, 42 Lions worked with Girl and Boy Scouts and other volunteers to restore Silver Creek in Puyallup. Lions from18 clubs throughout District 19 C were part of the work party. “We lucked out on the weather,” says Lacey Sunrise Lion Judy Bergval. “The rain stopped, the sun actually came out for a few minutes and we took off the rain coats and rain pants. We planted some good-sized trees and pruned blackberries and hauled them to the road for pickup. We attached bamboo stakes to all the trees and planted 400 willow cuttings.” In addition to taking on new environmental projects to restore area streams and creeks, District C Lions and volunteers from the Pierce conservation district are still nurturing cedar tree seedlings planted by district governors during the 2011 international convention in Seattle. The Lions’ “Clean Stream” team has been working for more than seven years to restore creeks and watersheds to help salmon return. Partnering with the city of Puyallup and Pierce Conservation District, Lions first started out as a group of nine in 2007 to clear the steep banks of Meeker Creek of invasive grasses and weeds. “It’s an ongoing project that’s grown over the years,” says Messmer. “A growing number of Lions work a day in the fall and one in the spring, alongside all the volunteers we can get together.” Masters of the Grill It’s not an easy job, but for 40 years, Fenton Lions in Michigan have been grilling chicken to serve for Fenton’s Freedom Festival, a Fourth of July celebration. “Lions who’ve cooked the chicken for many years always brag that we’re a special breed and that joining us is by invitation only,” points out Dick Edwards. “The reality of this matter is that nobody wants to cook the chicken, standing over hot charcoal and breathing the vapors.” Wearing his sun visor and waving away smoke, he cheerfully tells people who do inquire, “Anybody can join in the fun—just sign up to be a Lion!” Lions raise an average of $3,500 from this one event. They provide scholarships, buy hearing aids and eyeglasses, and support holiday fireworks and other projects. They first began grilling when they helped out at another festival in nearby Manchester. “They enjoyed it so much and saw what a great community outreach program it was that the club decided to bring it to Fenton,” says Melanie Hein, whose husband, Warren, is also a Lion. In 1981, the club built a barbecue pit in a park to expand their rapidly growing concession. “Fenton is a fairly small town of about 11,000. It’s a close-knit community, and a lot of people come out on any occasion to socialize. Even in our 100-degree summer heat, we still manage to sell chicken,” says Melanie Hein. Flag-Waving Fun in Canada The kids are wriggling in their seats with excitement when Comox Valley Monarch Lions in Courtenay, British Columbia, Canada, step into each class of first-graders during the club’s Project Pride. “They’re actually really excited to see us, maybe even more excited to see Lions than the Mountie,” says April Dyck. Lions arrive bearing gifts of small Canadian flags and personalized certificates bearing each child’s name to help the 6-year-olds learn about Canada’s history. A Royal Mounted Canadian Police community constable also accompanies Lions to hand out temporary tattoos to the children, but it’s Lions who hold their attention as they quiz eager students. The children are invited to enter a drawing to win one of four bikes Lions give away during a community-wide Canada Day celebration. Because Canada Day is July 1, Lions visit the classes in June before school lets out for the summer. Lions ask the children if they can name the capital of Canada (Ottawa) and their country’s official symbol (a maple leaf). They also quiz the students about Canada’s history and currency. “It takes us about a week to visit nine classes. We’re a Monarch club, which means we’re a little older,” she says with a laugh. “But even though we may move a little slower, we usually stay longer than the 30 minutes scheduled for each visit because we’re all having so much fun. The kids love it and so do we. It keeps us young.” Fencing Them In Dixie Lion Robert Carr says that long before Talledega became home to its famous speedway and a star on the NASCAR circuit, there was another, more compelling destination in Alabama. The Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind (AIDB) has been helping people for 150 years. Lions have supported AIDB’s mission to educate, train and employ its clients for decades, volunteering where needed. Last year, Lions helped build a fence around a horse pasture. “The Equestrian Center maintains horses not only for recreation, but also for the wide range of therapy that they can provide,” Carr explains. Lion Richard Penton says that the pressure-treated lumber donated by a business would have cost Lions between $1,600 and $2,000. In addition to Lions, volunteers included a small group of visiting students from Vanderbilt. “Several of them were from northern states, and they got a kick out of us sharing some of the finer points of Southern culture and language,” Penton points out. The 400-foot fence was installed on a cold, damp day. Lions came back a second day to finish up and gave the wood a few months to age before they painted it. Penton hopes club members were able to do more than show the Vanderbilt students how to install fencing. “They showed a lot of interest in Lions. We told them about some of the things we do locally and internationally. We may have laid the groundwork for gaining some future Lions,” he says.
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