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To celebrate three years of service to local communities, Madison Area Lions Club welcomes residents to an Open House on Feb. 13 at 5:30 p.m. at Dublin Park. The photo shows Lions Cheryl Emich, from left, and LaToya Dorsey volunteering at the lawn bowling fundraiser for the National Children’s Advocacy Center. CONTRIBUTED

Lions Club to show projects at Open House on Feb. 13

MADISON – At its inaugural Open House, Madison Area Lions Club will exhibit project results as a service organization since 2020.

Club members hope residents will stop by and enjoy appetizers while browsing tables of photos and memorabilia of charitable work. Open House on Feb. 13 at Dublin Park, Meeting Room A will run from 5:30 to 6:45 p.m.

Alabama Lions recognized the Madison club for achievements with the 2021-2022 “Outstanding Club of the Year Award.”

“The Open House will celebrate three years of service to our local communities,” Lions President Cheryl Emich said. “We hope everyone will stop by to see some of the projects we provide — from eye screening in local daycare centers and schools to collecting supplies for school nurses.”

The local club is affiliated with Lions Clubs International, the world’s largest community service organization with more than 1.4 million members in approximately 45,000 clubs in 205 countries and geographical areas worldwide. Since 1917, Lions clubs have aided the blind and visually impaired and strongly committed to serving children and the public.

One of Lions’ signature programs is “Vision for Learning,” involving eye-screening events in local daycares and schools. “Since we started the Vision for Learning Program, we’ve screened over 275 children,” Lions Vision Coordinator Tony Villamil said. “If a child doesn’t have resources for an eye exam and eyeglasses, the club will help.”

“Club members believe the best way to help a child to learn is to ensure they can fully participate in classroom activities,” Villamil said. “Many children don’t realize they’re having vision issues. Our screening helps identify vision problems early so the child can receive an optometrist or ophthalmologist’s evaluation.”

The club has partnered with several area optometrists/ophthalmologists to provide two monthly screenings to children in need, including Madison City Schools and area pre-kindergartens. Club members can screen approximately 40 children per hour. The screening device is 95 percent accurate in detecting children’s sight problems (possibly requiring further evaluation).

In another service, the club collects used eyeglasses for Lions “Recycle for Sight.” “We need everyone to donate their used eyeglasses,” Lion Eyeglass Recycling Coordinator John Emich said.

“In most developing countries, an eye exam can cost as much as one month’s wages. A single eye doctor may serve a community of hundreds of thousands of people,” John Emich said. “By donating your used eyeglasses, you’re helping improve someone’s vision.”

Since starting the recycling program in 2021, Madison Lions have collected more than 7,500 used eyeglasses.

The club also helped school nurses in MCS, Sparkman High School, Legacy and Monrovia middle schools and Monrovia and Harvest elementary schools. Annually, Lions collect supplies for stocking nurses’ sick rooms.

“We’ve collected over $1,000 of supplies for nurses and provided each nurse with $100 for needed supplies,” Lion Matthew McClendon said. “School nurses are very appreciative. This support (has evolved) into an annual event.”

Madison Lions sponsored children with diabetes for Camp Seale Harris and volunteered with Athens and Huntsville Pacesetter Lions clubs; Madison Christmas Parade; National Children’s Advocacy Center; Lions Helen Keller Memorial in Tuscumbia; flag and wreath placement on veterans’ graves; and relief to Port Charlotte, Fla. after Hurricane Ian.

“We’re proud of what this club has accomplished in the past three years and know more good things are to come,” Ron Seybold, former Alabama Lions State Administrator, said. “Madison Lions are an outstanding club in every respect and epitomize the Lions motto of ‘We Serve.’”

“We hope community members will join us at our Open House to learn more about our services and how we can further help our community,” Villamil said.

For more information about Open House or participating with Madison Area Lions Club, email Villamil at madisonlionsclub@gmail.com.

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