Chugging Ahead

The ugly word COVID shut down a successful Lions Program to screen the eyes of pre-school children in Frankfort. The Lions began the program in 2015 supported by then Lion President Sue Wolf, Lion Al Russo and myself. Our philosophy for the club was to involve as many members as possible in projects that help the community. Over the past eighty some years our club evolved into a “check writing club.” Most of the old timers tired themselves out with too many fund raising activities. Each project that involved the need for spending money became a fund raising event. For instance, the tiny village lacked street signs, so Lions raised money to buy street signs and then they installed them. The same went for the first fire truck, and snow plow.

As new members became involved they brought new ideas with them. Why not involve the entire community in our fund raiser by establishing a festival with a major raffle? The very first attempt was the Sour Kraut Festival which featured German food, beer, and music. The first prize in the raffle was a Cadillac and tickets were twenty dollars each. Back in the late sixties a Cadillac could be bought for five thousand dollars, and twenty dollars was a month’s worth of groceries. To enter the festival, one needed a raffle ticket, allowed two people to get into the venue, and was a coupon for two beef sandwiches. Lions raised enough money to fund a year’s worth of charitable giving.

Many years have passed and the Frankfort Lions became a lethargic group. They met regularly for a meal, card games, smoking, and a good time. At their Board of Director meetings they decided which charities to donate to. Largest among them were two projects, first were scholarships for local high school kids, second was providing groceries for families in need at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. The treasurer wrote checks for all the other charities.

Our membership began to dwindle. When I joined, the total roster was fifty members, down from 135 at it’s peak. Since then, we have rebuilt the membership to seventy-five. As President I took a survey of the members. One question was “Why did you join the Lions?” The single most popular answer was “to help the community.” I worked hard to bring in new activities that could involve more members. Not every one is interested in the same thing. The more variety we have in activities the more members can volunteer. Of course, some Lions volunteer for every project, but I like to see a few new faces at each one.

Getting back to the vision screening, last week we restarted the program, and since have screened 124 children ages 3 to 5 and have found 8 who needed further examinations. Most likely these kids will come home with glasses.

Helen Keller challenged the Lions to become “Knights of the Blind” at the first Lions convention in 1926 and they have taken this challenge seriously. We have learned that learning is very visual, and that kids in the pre-school age group have problems which can be cured by the time they enter school. This puts them on a level learning field with their fellow students. All kids should have the same opportunity to learn.

In summary: Frankfort Lions screened 2100 kids in the four years before the Covid shut down, 170 were found to have a vision problem. This week we screened 124 and found 8, or 6.5% with a problem. This screening program is like finding a needle in a haystack, but by consistently pursuing the National average of seven percent we will do our part to improve the lives of our community.

A total of seven Lion members were involved in conducting the screenings, two of them never worked an event before.

One Response

  1. Tolstoy apparently said that “the only certain happiness in life is to live for others.”

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: