Our reputation precedes us. Neighbors, friends and relatives of Lions bring their old eyeglasses to us when paying a social call. A magazine writing about a stylish eyewear company in New York that donates eyeglasses headlined the article with “One Part Boutique, One Part Lions Clubs.” Google “Lions Clubs and sight” and you get 15,700,000 results. “LensCrafters and sight” yields a relatively paltry 146,000 results. And think of the advertising budget of a huge company like that!
We are Knights of the Blind and proud of it. We’ve taken on that mission since 1925 when Helen Keller spoke at our 9th International Convention in Cedar Point, Ohio, and eloquently asked us to be the Knights of the Blind. True, clubs complete all kinds of service projects, and some clubs don’t focus on sight. That’s perfectly fine. But our history and identity are rooted in helping the blind and preserving vision. It’s a glorious, beautiful, magnificent mission, and every Lion can rightly take pride in what we do.
In this month’s special LION Magazine, we take a look–pun intended–at the various ways Lions preserve and restore sight. In a few pages we can only gaze at the tip of the iceberg. But we know so much more is unseen. We know that many clubs–probably yours–toil quietly as unsung heroes in the battle against blindness. I tip my Lions hat to you for all you do.
We often don’t receive thanks for what we do. That’s OK. We know in our hearts the impact of our service. But occasionally someone brightens our day with an acknowledgement. It happened to Sue Nixson of the Commerce Lions Club in Texas weeks after a vision screening at a school. Wearing her new glasses, a young girl happened to enter Nixson’s workplace with her parent. “That’s the lady from the Lions club!” she shouted. Then she joyously hugged Lion Sue.
Anne and I send our very best wishes in this holiday season to you and hope next year is full of laughter, love and, of course, more glorious service to improve vision.
Barry J. Palmer
Your Lions Clubs International President