I am a Lion. Does that mean, king of the jungle? Cowardly? Not quite.
I’ve been a Lion since 2006.
That is, a member of a local Lions club, one of more 1.4 millions people in 46,000+ clubs established and working in 210 countries around the world. Founded in 1917 by a group of business professionals that were interested giving something back to their communities, the fledgling clubs developed clarity of their mission soon there after.
Helen Keller attended the Lions Clubs convention in 1925 and challenged the members thus, asking them to be her “knights of the blind”, to lend their assistance and leadership to those who cannot help themselves due to disability, and especially those without sight.
For nearly 100 years, Lions have worked on projects
designed to prevent blindness, restore eyesight and improve eye health and eye care for hundreds of millions of people worldwide. But Lions’ efforts have reached far beyond blindness and other health related challenges people face.
Lions are also at the forefront when natural disasters
hit. Recent events where Lions made a difference include Hurricane Sandy, Typhoon Haiyan (or Yolanda), and the massive earthquake in Haiti. Emergency grants flow from Lions Clubs International Foundation headquarters to local Lions clubs in effected areas so that members can more quickly and effectively respond to acute and long-term needs for assistance.
When it comes down to it, it’s all about local folks wanting to make a positive difference in their communities.
The club I belong to have several on-going projects to respond to the needs in our community, responding to those in need. An annual Thanksgiving Food Drive, community outreach to provide eye exams and eyeglasses, Flag Days in local elementary schools, helping kids with disabilities, and sponsoring eye camps in west India via a sister club are channels of altruism our club is involved in.
Then there’s unique situations like the one with a lady I’ll refer to as Totsie.
An 81 year old stroke survivor once over, Totsie is legally blind, and suffering severe hearing loss. Her modest retirement income wasn’t sufficient to afford hearing aids (which run into the thousands of dollars when new). Our club learned about her situation via her neighbor/care-giver, whose brother is a Lion in the California central valley (a couple hours’ drive from our area).
The request was two-fold: they were asking if our club could provide fiscal and organization support to help Totsie get hearing aids. The members involved knew of a resource via the Lions’ Hearing Foundation (known as Ear of the Lion) that helped people in Totsie’s situation.
We presented the request to our board, who swiftly approved funding for the hearing aides loaner program offered by the Hearing Foundation. A few weeks later, she had her exam, and will soon be fitted for refurbished hearing aids that will provide an improved quality of life for a someone in need.
This fundamental good came to pass because one Lion knew another Lion who knew of a program that might help. And those folks together were able to lend a hand and make someone’s life a little better. Grass roots effort. Resources brought to bear. A happy result that exemplifies the motto Lions live by around the world: Where there is a need, “We Serve.”