OASIS, Support for Visually Impaired

A few years ago, I became acquainted with OASIS, a support group established by Joe and Kim Kuster. Both of them are legally blind. Joe has lost 100% of his vision, and his wife Kim was born with a condition that seriously reduced her vision. She can see, but only if she holds a document up to her face and thru a magnifying glass. Over twenty-five years ago, they decided to do something with their gift and established OASIS, a support group for people with vision loss.

Years later, they were introduced to the Frankfort Lions Club and gave a short program on their work. Back in the nineteen twenties, at one of the Lions’ first conventions, Helen Keller, both blind and deaf, gave a speech about living in a silent and dark world. She challenged the Lions to become Knights of the blind. The Lions accepted the challenge and have been doing so ever since. Our club is no different. Every year, we donate to causes assisting people who have vision loss. Sometimes, we give to the Leader Dog Foundation others, we send blind kids to a special camp. Every year we support our own Lions of Illinois Foundation whose sole purpose is to help the people of Illinois who have vision problems. We stand on street corners dodging cars with a bucket in our hands giving out rolls of spearment candy to anyone who donates; the money goes to Lions of Illinois Foundation.

So, when Joe and Kim came to us with their story, the Frankfort Lions became avid supporters of their group. At first, it was with a solitary donation. Later, some of our members went to their meetings and helped them with handouts, serving refreshments, and leading them to the restrooms. Over the past few years, the Frankfort Lions and the Mokena Lions have challenged each other to help OASIS with money and service.

Sadly, Joe and Kim decided to retire and move to Tennessee to be near their daughter and grandchildren. I am proud to say that the two Lions Clubs have opted to continue OASIS for the many members who rely on them for help. OASIS is not a part of the LIONS. It is a separate organization that supports people with vision loss. The Lions also help people with vision loss, so we are a happy marriage. I left my role as a member of the board of directors for the Frankfort Lions and joined the board of directors of OASIS.

I am still a Lion doing service to the community. I participate in the annual Winter Coat Drive, collecting coats from people who don’t need them and dispersing them to those who need them. This Saturday, I will participate in the Frankfort Police Department’s annual Trunk or Treats Halloween Parade and candy giveaway. Over two thousand kids will parade with their parents along a route of cars, trucks, and tents decorated in ghoulish skeletons, witches, zombies, and ghosts dragging their collection bags past a waiting monster Lion for a piece of candy. Lions have fun, too.

After the Halloween Parade, Lions begin their Holiday collections of money by standing in front of various local businesses, shaking our buckets, and looking for donations that we will spend on food for families within the community who are in desperate need.

One Response

  1. Amazing. Helping people who may need support, without making them feel indebted, is one of the greatest human powers.

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