By Philip Schmitten
GROVETON — When caring people join, roll up their sleeves and take action to make their community better, it’s a beautiful thing — and an incredible feeling for everyone involved.
Being a Lion is about leading by example, building relationships, and improving the world through kindness. It’s 1.4 million caring men and women serving together so they can make a lasting impact and change more lives.
Ever since Helen Keller inspired us to champion the cause in 1925, we’ve served and advocated for the blind and visually impaired. Nearly a century later, this long-standing mission continues unhindered.
Groveton Lions have donated four scholarships to GISD students this year and have big plans for next year.
In the past, Groveton Lions Club has been involved with Eye Exams for the pre-K thru first-graders. Next school year, with the cooperation of Groveton ISD and the school nurse, the local Lions will offer exams to the entire district.
These exams show more than eyesight problems, they also can detect early illnesses that can affect the entire body. A year ago, a girl was diagnosed with eye cancer and the early warning saved her life.
The Rev. Jack McMahon, Lion club coordinator for the SPOT Eye Screening Program, (SIGHT for KIDS) said, “The sooner we can get the kids the ability to see, the sooner they can start to learn faster.”
The club documents any problems we find and then turn the results over to the school nurse for follow-up action. The Lions Club pays for the eye appointments and even purchases glasses for those who can’t afford them.
Nearly 1 billion people live with vision impairment that could have been prevented or can be corrected — $14.3 billion is needed to treat existing cases of refractive error and cataracts worldwide. Unaddressed distance vision impairment in many Iow- and middle-income regions is four times higher than in high-income regions.
Lions Clubs are a world leader in the effort to prevent avoidable blindness, and are diligently working with local partners to help provide the local capacity building, training, medications and treatment needed for those with eye diseases and to provide disability rehabilitation and education for all.
Since 2002, Lions Clubs International Foundation has partnered with Johnson & Johnson Vision to implement the largest-known school-based eye health program, Sight for Kids. The program mobilizes Lions and eye care professionals to provide comprehensive eye health services in low-income schools, currently in seven locations throughout the world — Thailand, Philippines, Kerala, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Florida and Kenya.
The program provides teachers with training to deliver eye health education, perform a visual acuity test and screen for common eye conditions. Students identified with potential vision impairment or eye ailments are referred to healthcare providers for evaluation.
This program has had a tremendous impact in communities worldwide:
• 42 million students screened around the world
• 500,000 pairs of eyeglasses provided to children in need
• 600,000 students treated in the U.S.
• 200,000 teachers engaged in the U.S.
The Groveton Lions Club also sponsors the Fourth of July Celebration held at the Y every year. It sponsors bake sales and community service activities such as building a ramp for a local citizen who needed one.
We sponsor an annual golf tournament and hold adult health fairs with eye screening for those without insurance, plus many more activities that help the community — as our motto says, we serve.
We are looking for dedicated folks to join our group, which meets at noon on the first and third Thursdays of each month from September to June at the Groveton Senior Citizens Center.
Everyone is invited to attend any of our meetings to see what it’s all about.