Owego Lions Club
Owego, New York- "Finger Lakes" District 20E2
OWEGO LIONS CLUB
Lions are more than 1.4 million strong...men and women... young and old. You will find us in more than 190 countries and geographical areas from the hinterlands of Australia and Brazil to thriving urban centers like New York City and Milan. We speak dozens of languages and vary in nature and customs.
We share a common spirit. Since our beginning in 1917, we have been united in a single cause: helping those less fortunate. We are tackling the tough problems like blindness and drug abuse as well as diabetes awareness--and finding help and training for the deaf, disabled, underprivileged and the elderly. In fact, whatever the community needs to make life better, we're there to help.
We are the youngest service club community based organization, yet we have grown to be the world's largest. We are succeeding because we have embraced all those committed to building a brighter future for the world and for themselves.
And, with a new generation of enlightened members, Lions clubs are working smarter and faster with greater commitment than ever before.
For more than 85 years, lions have been recognized throughout the world for their services to the blind and visually impaired. Back in 1925, when Helen Keller challenged the Lions to become "Knights of the Blind," she could not have possibly imagined the impact of Lions commitment to blindness prevention.
Bringing rays of light to the darkness of countless people around the world, Lions have established the majority of eye banks worldwide, funded ground-breaking research on leading causes of blindness, organized eyeglass recycling efforts and helped hundreds of thousands of visually impaired people develop the skills to live productive lives.
Lions launched SightFirst in 1990 as an aggressive attack on the rising tide of blindness around the world. Forty-five million people are blind, yet 80 percent of all blindness is preventable or reversible.
Developed as a bold response to the World Health Organization's prediction that the number of people who are blind would double in 25 years, SightFirst works to close the gap between existing health care services and those that are needed.
Topping more than $140 million in funds raised through a major, three-year fundraising drive, Lions have initiated SightFirst programs in more than 48 countries on five continents. Lions have joined with governments, ophthalmic professionals and other organizations to help establish long-term solutions in health care infrastructure, training of health care professionals, treatment and public education.
Incorporated in 1968, Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) is the charitable arm of the organization. Through gifts to LCIF, Lions serve a broader community than would otherwise be possible. Lions have reached out across all borders to purchase equipment for an eye bank in western Korea... to construct a hospice for children with disabilities in France... and to fund treatment for diabetic eye disease in Newfoundland, Canada.
LCIF has approved more than $280 million in grants. This includes grants for the SightFirst Program, humanitarian services, disaster relief and vocational assistance.
The foundation receives contributions from Lions and others, reaffirming the strong belief that many people working together can achieve more than individuals working alone.
Leo clubs offer young people ages 12-28 a chance to serve their communities and experience the camaraderie of their peers. Sponsored by local Lions clubs, Leo clubs have an opportunity to make an impact on their communities and learn how they can continue to make a difference for the rest of their lives.
Through the Lions International Youth Exchange program, 3000 -4000 youngsters travel yearly to a foreign country, where they live with host families and experience cultures different from their own.
Lions clubs and districts sponsor and operate international youth camps to bring together young people from different countries. In addition, each summer, thousand of disadvantaged and disabled youths -for whom summer camp would otherwise be just a dream -attend Lions-sponsored camps.
Lions can reward the volunteer and leadership efforts of youth with two youth awards. At the club level, Lions Young leaders in Service Awards honor young people ages 12-18 who have completed 50 to 100 hours of community service. At the district and multiple district levels, Young Ambassadors of the 21st Century Award provides a means of recognizing young people ages 15-19 who excel in community service, leadership, public speaking and academics.
In an effort to educate children about the concepts of peace and international understanding, Lions Clubs International sponsors the International Peace Poster Contest. Using only pictures, children -ages 11 to 13 -from around the world are challenged to depict their personal interpretations of world peace.
The Lions-Quest "Skills for Growing" program for elementary school students and the "Skills for Adolescence" curriculum for middle school students and "Skills for Action" for high school students have helped millions of young people around the world acquire the skills and self esteem they need to live productive, happy, drug-free lives.
To provide teens with the tools they need to get started on their own community service projects, Lions created "The Future is Ours.. .So Now What?", a complete in-school program that provides motivation and guidelines for teens to become volunteers.
Through membership in a Lions club, people not only help those in need, but have opportunities to develop personal friendships and gain valuable leadership skills.
Membership in a Lions club is by invitation. Clubs meet at least twice a month and elect officers annually. An international board of directors governs the association. Each year, more than 20,000 Lions attend their international convention to discuss new ideas, share experiences and reaffirm friendship and fellowship.
I suppose you have heard the legend that represents opportunity as a capricious lady, who knocks at every door but once, and if the door isn't opened quickly, she passes on, never to return. And that is as it should be. Lovely, desirable ladies won't wait. You have to go out and grab 'em.
I am your opportunity. I am knocking at your door. I want to be adopted. The legend doesn't say what you are to do when several beautiful opportunities present themselves at the same door. I guess you have to choose the one you love best. I hope you will adopt me. I am the youngest here, and what I offer you is full of splendid opportunities for service.
The American Foundation for the Blind is only four years old. It grew out of the imperative needs of the blind, and was called into existence by the sightless themselves. It is national and international in scope and in importance. It represents the best and most enlightened thought on our subject that has been reached so far. Its object is to make the lives of the blind more worthwhile everywhere by Increasing their economic value and giving them the joy of normal activity.
Try to imagine how you would feel if you were suddenly stricken blind today. Picture yourself stumbling and groping at noonday as in the night; your work, your independence, gone. In that dark world wouldn't you be glad if a friend took you by the hand and said, "Come with me and I will teach you how to do some of the things you used to do when you could see"? That is just the kind of friend the American Foundation is going to be to all the blind in this country if seeing people will give it the support it must have.
You have heard how through a little word dropped from the fingers of another, a ray of light from another soul touched the darkness of my mind and I found myself, found the world, found God. It is because my teacher learned about me and broke through the dark, silent imprisonment which held me that I am able to work for myself and for others. It is the caring we want more than money. The gift without the sympathy and interest of the giver is empty. If you care, if we can make the people of this great country care, the blind will indeed triumph over blindness.
The opportunity I bring to you, Lions, is this: To foster and sponsor the work of the American Foundation for the Blind. Will you not help me hasten the day when there shall be no preventable blindness; no little deaf, blind child untaught; no blind man or woman unaided? I appeal to you Lions, you who have your sight, your hearing, you who are strong and brave and kind. Will you not constitute yourselves Knights of the Blind in this crusade against darkness? I thank you.
District Governor Rich and Linda Shaff 2002-2003
Association of Lions Clubs