Lions Club District Governor David Harris of Carl Junction introduced a group of potential members to the mission and history of the club.
Founded in June 1917 by Melvin Jones as a service organization fighting blindness, the Lions Clubs International has swelled to 1.3 million members in more than 45,000 clubs worldwide. In spite of belonging to the largest service club in the world, leaders on the local scene think that encouraging new membership is an important goal.
A membership reception was held at the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce on March 1, 2010 to acquaint newcomers not only with the club's dynamic history fighting blindness but also with club activities that support children and schools through mentoring, recreation and scholarship programs like Lions Quest; adults through vocational training and anyone through major disaster relief (The Lions Club logo appears on 300 tents donated for Haitian relief.).
Does anyone know what "river blindness" is? David Harris, a district governor from Carl Junction asked those who were assembled. No hands went up. Lions Club volunteers eradicated it, Harris explained, when those who had it were educated against washing in bacteria-laden water that caused unusual eyelash growth.
Through the SightFirst program, Lions are having a significant impact on eliminating and controlling the leading causes of blindness. Trekker, a dog guide program, Harris explained, now has the use of GPS tracking, amblyopia or "lazy eye" is detected and treated in children and the donation of corneas for transplantation is encouraged.
Locally, Lions volunteers assist in eye glass recycling--a new donor box for old lenses and frames has been set up at the Webb City Walmart. Club catering activities at Boomtown Days, the Carl Junction Bluegrass Festival, Joplin's Fourth of July Freedom Fest and others have raised money that has been used to support agencies like St. Peter's Outreach/coats for kids, the Joplin Boys and Girls Club, Magic Moments Riding Therapy, Turnaround Ranch, and local food pantries.
The club meets the first Thursday of the month at noon at Ryan's Family Steakhouse, 510 Range Line Rd., Joplin. Membership is by invitation only. However, nobody is discouraged from applying. If interested contact Sandy Taylor at (417) 291-2040.