By: Lance Howard, President, Brookings Lion’s Club
The Brookings Lion’s Club is an active Service Club with over 40 members. Our Motto is “We Serve” and the Mission Statement of Lions Club International (LCI): “To empower volunteers to serve their communities, meet humanitarian needs, encourage peace and promote international understanding through Lions clubs.”
Lions was started in 1917 by Melvin Jones, a Chicago business leader who wanted the members of his local business club to address the betterment of their communities and the world. In 1920, Canada started their first club and Mexico followed in 1927. Helen Keller addressed the Lions Clubs International Convention in 1925 and challenged Lions to become “knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness.”
The Brookings Lions provides vision assistance to individuals in the Brookings Area who meet the qualifications for County Assistance. A person seeking assistance from the Lions would start by completing an application at the Brookings Human Services Office at the Brookings City/County Government Center. In 2017, our club provided assistance for 10 people.
One of our club members, John Ruffolo, collects used eye glasses from several locations in Brookings and from the South Dakota Lions Foundation. Using a lensometer, John measures the prescription, packages, labels, and delivers to the foundation for distribution to people in Mexico.
The Kid’s See program is headed by Ron Seeley and assisted by many club members. As a club, we purchased a special camera in 2014 that is used at Pre-Schools, Kindergarten Screening, the Boys and Girls Club, and daycares in Brookings and across the state. The camera runs a 30 second test, without drops or bright lights, to screen for seven different eye conditions that may affect the child’s vision. If there is an indication of any need, we refer the child to an eye doctor. Last year, our club screened over 250 children in the Brookings Area.
Our club has many additional community service efforts: this year we will provide two scholarships to two Brookings High School Seniors who will attend a South Dakota School for higher education, which can be a Technical School or University, assistance to the Brookings Backpack project, an annual donation to the Boys & Girls Club along with other organizations, and last year we purchased five trees to be planted in The Lion’s Park on Medary. In 2017, we partnered with Brookings Health Systems to co-sponsor a Diabetes Awareness and Support Group.
To fund all of the eye glass assistance, vision screening, and other community efforts, we rely on community support through fundraising. Our club has a food booth at the Summer Arts Festival selling SDSU Ice Cream, we have a spaghetti feed in the spring, and we usher for SDSU Basketball Games and concerts at the Swiftel Center.
The Brookings Lions hold Monday noon meetings at Prairie Lanes. We are always looking for new members to help us serve the Brookings Area. Please feel free to contact Lions Bob Bell (firstname.lastname@example.org), Lance Howard (email@example.com) or Ron Seeley (firstname.lastname@example.org) with questions.