Day 57-SIP-Volunteer to Serve

There is no question but that the COVID-19 is still very active in my county. Today’s report added 77 new cases of confirmed Corona virus. That brings our total to 3,973 cases. I’d like to see it coming down, but there are a lot of other things I would like too, but never seem to get my wish.

Every year at this time I would like to see so many people step up and want to be leaders in our local Lions Club that we have to turn people away. That hasn’t happened yet. Why is it that whenever a person is asked to take on a leadership role he/she shirks the responsibility? Only a very few special people want to lead. The remainder are satisfied being led.

My experience with volunteer groups spreads over a span of fifty years and many organizations, and it volunteering to lead hasn’t changed. Even worse yet, I have still not learned the secret of recruiting successfully. One thing I did learn however, is that people want to belong to an active moving club with a positive attitude. Nobody wants to join a negative, sorry-assed, dead club, and I don’t blame them. Why would I join a club whose reputation is for doing nothing. When I join something it is because i believe in the activities and function of the club. When I joined a bicycle club I joined because I wanted to meet bike riders who I could ride with. Riding alone most of the time is boring. I joined the Boy Scouts of America because i wanted my son to have a decent Troop to join into. I joined the Garden club because I was tired of killing plants and wanted to learn how to make flowers grow. I first joined the Lions because I needed something to deflect the grief I suffered from my wife’s death. Then, after I joined and learned what a great organization they are I dedicated my life to helping our club to serve the community.

As President of the Frankfort Lions I conducted a survey to determine how to make the club serve more. One of the things I learned was that most people join because they want to ‘give back.’ They feel so blessed with their own life that they want to extend that same gift to others within their community. My philosophy has always been that serving the club as an officer is serving the community, and qualifies as ‘giving back.’

An organization that is over a hundred years old and still growing has to have something going for it. Lions are pushing 1.5 millions members in over 200 countries, and in 45,000 clubs. We all follow the same goals, the same ethics, the same constitution and by-laws. Only our languages, customs, and ethnicities differ.

When I first joined I learned that Lions were challenged by Helen Keller to become the Knights of the Blind. At the time I didn’t know a single blind person and thought that perhaps the need for helping the blind has diminished since 1925 when she made the challenge. I was wrong. The number of people who are blind is growing. As the population ages more and more of us is affected by age related macular degeneration. The longer one lives the better his chances of losing vision becomes.

A detailed macro shot of a blue woman human eye.
Lions Of Illinois Foundation Mobile Hearing and Vision Screening Vans

By a process of evolution I have become involved in helping the blind. First by manning our specially equipped mobile vision screening van. We schedule a date for the van and invite the public to come and get thier eyes screened for diseases like diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration and more. More recently, I helped initiate a children’s vision screening program within our village. Lions purchased a special camera to measure the eye. The camera compares measurements to what is normal. If a measurement is out of the normal range it alerts us to send that kid to get his eyes examined by a professional. So far, we have screened two thousand kids and we’ve alerted two hundred. Many of those 200 kids now wear glasses to make their vision better.

Lions learned that pre-school aged kids have problems that can be corrected before a kid starts kindergarten. Yet, most school districts will not require testing until a kid enters first grade. Lions believe that if a pre-schooler is screened and found to have a problem that his eyes can be corrected by the time he enters school. All kids should have the same advantage for an education. If one of them has a problem seeing the materials he is at a disadvantage.

Frankfort Lions Conduct a Vision Screening at Movie on the Green Where They Also Distribute Free Pop Corn

Since COVID-19 we have put our screening programs on hold, and we hope there is some way to get them rolling again soon. Stay tuned I’m working on it.

Day 47-SIP-A Letter To My Friends

3 May 2020

To My Lion Friends:

            It seems like forever since we last met, but it has only been since our last government allowed meeting in February. I miss you all. I miss the meals together, the drinks, the congenial fellowship, the back slapping, and hilarious but crude jokes. I feel like I should be doing something more than just sitting around avoiding a chance meeting with a virus. There has to be something we can do as a club that does not involve meeting in person and face to face as a group. 

There is a way to have a meeting using technology called Zoom, and it might even be fun. What is Zoom you ask? It is a virtual meeting that takes place via the internet. If you agree, I will set a meeting time (like at 6:30 p.m. 9 May 2020, our regular meeting night) and then you will click on the link in the email that takes you to the meeting. Your face and voice will be heard on the screen. Lady Lions please have your make up and hair done before signing on. Male Lions please wear your Lions Vest, pants are optional since we’ll only see your face. Shaving is also optional, but you may want to show off your new COVID mustache, or beard.

All of us will be seen on the screen in separate frames. If you don’t have a computer with a camera, you can substitute a smart phone or tablet by calling a local-number in the same e-mail, If that doesn’t work you can call in on a regular phone but we won’t see your face. That may be a good thing. If you are looking grizzly on Monday and don’t want to scare the rest of us you can substitute your high school graduation picture by using the share-upload feature of the program.

You Too Can Be on This Screen

            Of course, with so many people on the same phone call the meeting leader will have to shut off your sound, and only give voice to those who raise a hand (click on the hand icon) to be heard. That will be better than our regular meetings where the one who speaks the loudest gets the nod over those who are too meek to shout-over. Members who would rather speak to their cliques like you do at a regular meeting you can do so through the chat feature in total privacy. That too will also be an improvement over our regular meetings where the general sound level gets so high it drones out the President.

Of course we will not feature our monthly buffet dinner, but you may bring your home cooked tv dinner to the meeting and eat while the rest of us watch you and chat. Drinks will not be available either, but again, you can put a straw into the neck of your favorite libation and suck it down at will. If you happen to disappear from the screen we will know you had too much. If you won’t be home, don’t be bashful and call from your car, but be sure the phone is in a cup holder and aimed at your face. That way you won’t have to put your beer down.

I ask you to respond to the following:

1.) Do you want to meet this way? Yes or no

2.) Send your service ideas, and questions in advance

3. Good jokes are always welcome as long as they are appropriately phrased to keep them clean.

Here is hoping we can Zoom soon to serve our community.

Respectfully yours in Lionism,

Lion Grumpa Joe, Past President

Boredom Yields Grief

A few days ago I completed a project that took me several months to execute. Begun in March of 2019, and then set aside in May of 2019 to spend time with my wife. I restarted again in January 2020 a full six months after Peggy died. During the time I worked on this animal, my life was never lonely. This week, I found myself with a couple of hours of free time that I didn’t know what to do with.  I missed going to my shop to cut and grind, sand, and finish wood pieces. I found myself getting lonely and wishing Peggy was still alive, what a terrible feeling. Not that I didn’t want her to be with me, but that I wanted her to be with me so badly.

To ward off the loneliness, I dressed for winter and took a long walk. Exercise helps ward off grief. My shoes are beginning to show signs of wear because I am walking so much. Somedays, I will walk several times. If I need a book, I’ll walk to the library, if my hair needs cutting, I’ll walk to the barber shop. If i am meeting friends for a drink I’ll walk to the bar. Today, I’ll walk to a noon meeting with my men’s group for lunch. (KETO for sure.)

Loneliness is an emotion that causes me to be depressed. Therefore, I must avoid it with a passion. Instead I find more powerful activities to fight depression. I pray when I walk, I watch movies that absorb, I read books with stories that engulf my mind, the last thing I will do is nothing, because then the mind begins feeding me bullshit about how tough I have it when the exact opposite is true. My blessings far out number my adversities, and I thank God for having blessed me so much.

Yesterday, a friend texted me with a link to a Lions event which is in September. I texted back that I have not been able to think that far in advance. Then immediately, I signed up for the event, a three day training session called the USA/Canada Leadership Forum held in Louisville, Kentucky this year. I thought, what the hell. there is nothing holding me back but me. I have looked at this event for three years always thinking that when I am free again I will go. I am going.

While on the Forum website I was reminded of a newer Lions educational program. One can earn a Bachelor’s, Master’s and a Phd in Lionism online from Lions University. I signed up for it while Peggy was still alive and I was President of my club, but put it aside. I clicked the button and completed the first of ten sessions required for my Bachelor’s Degree. I want to receive the degree at the forum in September. Why not? I can be a widower who sits and watches grass grow, or I can be a widower who attends Webinars to get a degree.

Activity, activity, activity, is the key to trudging through grief, along with writing about it.

 

Show Time

The curtain goes up at six tonight, and the show begins. Frankfort Lions present their annual Wurst Fest. I like to call it the “BEST Wurst Fest.” This is the club’s major fund raiser for the year. We have many more lessor drives to make money but the Wurst fuels our charities throughout the year. So many people not familiar with Lions ask me “just what do the Lions do?” My response is a lot, then I proceed to rattle off the list.

What do Frankfort Lions Do?

Typical Activities by month:

January—      Winter Games on the Green

KidSight Vision Screenings begin

February–     KidSight Vision Screening

Sights and Sounds Raffle for Lions Illinois Foundation (LIF)

March             Community Showcase

Blood Drive

Information Table

KidSight Vision Screening

Adult Hearing & Vision screening

Diabetes Awareness

Lighthouse Demonstration

Adult Vision Screening at Founder’s Center

April               Easter Food Distribution: Buy, Pack, and Deliver Food to 25 families

Bunny Breakfast-KidSight Vision Screening

Earth Day Clean Up

Birdies for Charity, LIF

May                 Kick off for Wurst Fest Raffle tickets

Clarendale Vision and Hearing Screening

Lincoln Way Scholarship Presentation

June                Wurst Fest Raffle Tickets

Nominate Club Officers

July                 Movies on the Green, Pop corn distribution

Sponsor Library Youth Group in Lions Peace Poster Contest

Wurst Fest Raffle Tickets

Club Election

President’s Night BBQ

August            Rib Fest Water Soft Drink Sale

PD Night Out Against Crime, Water Distribution and presence

Kick off OASIS second support group for vision impaired people

Farmer’s Market Raffle Ticket Sales

Camp Quality-Cook-Serve Lunch

Wurst Fest Raffle & Dance

September     Labor Day Parade, Distribute flags

Raffle Prize Dinner

PD Health Fair-Vision and Hearing Screening

Diabetes Awareness at Silver Cross Hospital

October          Trunk or Treats, Distribute candy treats

Candy Day Collection on Street Corners for LIF

November      Collect money at Jewel for TG turkeys and food

Thanksgiving Food Dist: Buy, Pack, and Deliver Food to 25 families

December      Polar Express/Park District

Collect Money @ Jewel for Christmas Food

Christmas Food Dist: Buy, Pack, and Deliver Food to 25 families

Christmas Gift Distribution for kids in need

We add to the list as new needs are identified. I have chosen to leave off the names of people with  serious impairments or conditions who we have helped in the interest of their privacy. During the year we contribute to over fifty community organizations and/or organizations that help our residents: Where there is a need there is a Lion.

If you want to join the fun and help Lions to serve come on out tonight to the Chamber of Commerce Wine and Beer Garden located at the corner of Oak and Kansas in historic Frankfort. The Wurst is a German themed social gathering featuring German food, German beer, and German music keeping with the German heritage of the community. The highlight of the evening is the raffle. If you were lucky enough to buy one of the two thousand $20 raffle tickets you may win one of seven cash prizes, the largest being $10,000. That same ticket gets two people entry into the venue for an evening of fun and camaraderie, not to mention a buzz from the delicious German beer.

The Lions kick off the much greater community Fall Festival, recently rated as the third best Craft and Arts Fair in the United States. With over two hundred and fifty thousand people attending over the three day Labor Day weekend. This fest is run 100% by volunteers from the village.

Come out to help the LIONS and have a ball too.

“We Serve”

Today, I had an interesting time with my Lions Club. We cooked and served lunch of hotdogs, hamburgers and cheeseburgers for 220 people. Every summer an organization called Camp Quality rents a full week at a Frankfort facility (Camp Manitoqua) entertaining kids with cancer. This is their twenty-fifth anniversary. Camp Quality is a nation-wide organization run 100 percent by volunteers. The Illinois Camp Quality serves Illinois, and part of Indiana. This year they served 77 kids with cancer, or kids in remission. Once a camper begins with the camp he is eligible to continue every year until he reaches age seventeen. Many of the campers become counselors and continue into their college years. Nationwide, there are seventeen Camp Quality’s operating.

Each camper has an assigned buddy who is older and who sticks to him like glue for the whole week. This is to prevent mishaps, and loneliness. Many of the newly diagnosed kids are on chemo-therapy when they arrive and continue to get the treatments. To do this, the camp has a complete medical staff of volunteer nurses and doctors to take care of medical issues. The entire week costs the camper zero. The entire operation, however costs upwards of two-hundred and fifty thousand dollars. All of this comes from donations from corporations, individuals, and clubs like ours.

The experience is lifting. One cannot come away without feeling a warm glow inside for having contributed to something good. All total  ten Lions gave of their time to serve the community, it is what Lions do.

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