Walkers and a bike rider engage in conversation while fundraising together for Nepal. Community Partnership Promotes Tolerance When a deadly earthquake struck Nepal’s capital city of Kathmandu a year ago in April, it did more than devastate a city. Thousands of miles away, it helped forge a friendship between members of the Coon Rapids Lions Club and the Nusrat Mosque- Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Minnesota. The two groups hosted a walk for Humanity First, raising more than $2,000 for victims of the natural disaster. Their partnership also helped open up a conversation about cultural diversity that continues to ripple throughout the community of more than 62,000 north of Minneapolis. Of the walkers, says Lion Lyle Goff, “It was about 50-50 Muslims and non-Muslims.” He credits Lion Lori Anderson for actively identifying community outreach efforts. “Our club is trying to reach out to various religious and ethnic groups in our community. Coon Rapids has a growing population, especially with recent immigrants from Africa, Asia, Central and South America, as well as Eastern Europe,” he says. Anderson was first approached by Abdul Naseer about Lions and mosque members working together on a project. They planned the walk in only two weeks. “I think partnerships between community groups can really help us achieve more than individual efforts,” points out Naseer. “Coon Rapids Lions helped us connect with the neighbors in our community based on our common goal of serving those in need.” The club’s determination to promote cultural awareness has since grown into a community organization called Transformative Circle that Lions support, says Anderson. “We had a series of three informational meetings for the public with city personnel explaining programs and services. When these were over, everybody wanted to continue meeting,” Anderson says. “This isn’t in response to anything negative that happened in our community. We just want to educate people about their neighbors and foster understanding and tolerance,” she points out. Lions Help a Friend When duct tape couldn’t keep Tom Kearney’s wheelchair together anymore, Lions stepped in to help. The Pennsylvania club co-sponsors a summer concert series in the park and “Wheelchair Tom,” as he’s known around town, is one of the regulars, says Annette James. “Tom has cerebral palsy, but he manages to attend every concert. He needs a wheelchair to get around, but also has to use a lift to bring him up to the level of tables or counters.” In Pennsylvania, McKeesport Lion Tony Ura visits with Tom Kearney after his wheelchair was updated with several safety accessories from Lions. Photo by Kim Carr Lion Tony Ura has helped Tom Kearney with wheelchair repairs for several years. He discovered that its lift wasn’t fixable the last time it broke, so Lions sponsored a pasta dinner to raise money to outfit Tom’s new power wheelchair. The chair was covered by insurance, but a new lift and several accessories, including a headlight and safety flag, were not. Lions paid for these adjustments to make sure that Kearney can still travel around town by himself.
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