I am visually impaired I have optic atrophy which left me legally blind since birth. The Lion's club has been a part of my life since the age of nine. As a child growing up in the early sixties special education for the visually impaired was in its infancy There were only a few schools in the Detroit school district that had a Visually Impaired program near our home. The nearest school that had such a program was Edison elementary, eight miles away. It took 3 city busses with one transfer for me to get there. My special Ed teacher contacted the Lion's club and they came to our home. They gave me a very special white cane. These Lion members worked at Ford Motor Company and hand built my cane in their machine shop. It was collapsible, made of metal tubing and broke down into four sections. It was painted at the Mustang paint shop at River Rouge. The tip of the cane was "race me" red and the body of the cane was "polar" white. Instead of the traditional hook at the top, the machine shop placed the shift knob of 1965 Mustang 2+2 fastback four speed. It was so cool it took some of the sting out of the teasing and bullying I took for carrying it. It allowed me to ride Detroit city busses for free and alerted the public of my impairment. It gave me the confidence to move forward in life. It was my excalibur, my lightsaber, it was my Mjolnir,"Thor's hammer" it was freedom. I joined the Northville Lion's club to pay it forward. I want to pass the positive power of this symbol to those who need it.
I spent 34 years with Livonia Public Schools as a special educator and administrator. One of my administrator assignments was supervising the county program for the Visually Impaired. The Livonia Lions Club supported the Visually Impaired Program by purchasing equipment/devices that were needed by students, supporting the Parent Group with activities, funding an annual Christmas party for students and the summer program. Along the way, I was asked to join the Livonia Lions as they were trying to grow the club. As a way to give back, I decided to join the Lions to further expand support for all needs within the community. What impressed me about volunteering with the Lions was that 100% of fundraising profits go directly to community or individual requests. The Lions Club although initially started for the Visually Impaired and Hearing Impaired, it is open to suggestions for providing for various community needs whether it be hunger, technology, service animals, or medical conditions. After retiring, I continued my volunteer efforts with the Northville Lions Club to support the community where I reside.
I joined the Dearborn Heights Club for the same reason a lot of small businessmen join a civic group. I had been practicing law in Dearborn Heights for about 15 years and was active in the Dearborn Heights Chamber of Commerce, but I had never joined a civic group. Another lawyer invited me to come to a meeting. Although the Lions, Kiwanis and Rotary were all very active in Dearborn Heights, and I had friends in all three groups, the Lions attracted me because the Lions has a defined purpose.
I joined in 1992 and eventually became an officer. Our club donated a lot to the community, but this is my favorite story.
About 10 years ago a woman contacted our club. She was legally blind due to severe cataracts. They were removable, but she and her family could never afford the surgery. She was on Medicaid which would not pay for it.
As I recall, the surgery was about $3500.00, which was more than our Club could afford. Our case investigator and I contacted the Lions of Michigan Service Foundation which is established to help individual clubs to pay for expensive cases like this. I met with the woman in our office to help fill out the application. The Foundation is efficient, but there was still a lot of paperwork before they could approve it. They approved it. Our club paid about $300.00 and the Foundation paid the rest.
The woman had the surgery. A few days later she called me to thank our club. She was almost crying about happy she was that she finally could see again. She told me that on her way home from the surgery, she could finally see individual blades of grass again.
I realized how precious the gift of sight was and how much we had touched this woman. I was almost crying and said to myself “That's why I’m a Lion". Lion Don