Monday, October 21, 2013

Who parks all those cars?

Every now and then, but not nearly often enough, someone brings a great Lions club event or project to my attention.  Today I want to pass along a project that's been going on for 48 years.

Since 1965 the Twin Falls Lions Club has been parking cars at the Twin Falls County Fair.  This involves a lot more than just directing traffic.  It begins with 12 acres of pasture that the Lions section off into rows for parking and lanes for driving.  They pound steel posts into the ground for markers,  direct cars where to park, and attend the lot throughout the 6 day fair.

But it's not over until the lot is cleaned up and restored to its original condition, 10 days after they drove in the first stake.

It somehow doesn't look like all work and no play!

Congratulations to PDG Don Rahe who has been the Fair Parking Chairperson for the last 10 years for another successful project!


Monday, October 7, 2013

A few of my favorites things...about USA/Canada Forum

So why do I like going to the USA/Canada Forum, besides the "fun" time traveling and the keynotes? 

It's the Lions! 

Each lunch or dinner you are seated by colors, so it's doubtful that you'll be sitting with people you know.  Two lunches+2 dinners with tables set for 10-that's the opportunity to spend a couple of hours with 36 Lions.  Time to attend 7 seminars, seated at tables with at least 8 others-that's 49  Lions. 

You have the opportunity to meet 85 Lions, give or take, from all over the USA and Canada.  Alaska, California, Oklahoma, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Texas, Wyoming, Utah, Hawaii, New Mexico-just some of the places Lions were from that I had a chance to talk to.  And learn from

From a shooting range in Utah (reported by the lone participant from that state), to owning and running an ambulance service in Connecticut, Lions have some amazing projects!  And it seems all the clubs have similar projects-vision testing, picking up litter, recycling, partnering with schools and other organizations. 

Problems are the same, too-getting more and younger members topped that list.

The opportunity to network with so many Lions and learn from them is the most valuable part of the forum.  It's one of the biggest reason people go back year after year.   

San Juan, September, 2014.  Who's planning to go?

A few Idaho forum attendees:  Floyd Miller, Deanna Rostock, me (Kathy Donahue), Tom Behm.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Motivating the Lions

My second most favorite part of the USA/Canada Forum is listening to the keynote speakers.  (More about my favorite thing another day!)

The Forum starts on Thursday evening with dinner and a speaker; this year it was Ed Hearn.  I was pretty excited about this as an avid baseball fan, since Ed was a major league ballplayer in the 80s.  His story is about achieving his boyhood dream, losing his health and almost his life, and battling back to be able to inspire others with his story. 

At the Friday luncheon, the speaker was Dayna Steele-finding your inner rock star.  Dayna is a motivational speaker and she was well-prepared to speak to the Lions.  You can find her daily motivational tips on her blog or delivered to your inbox.

Saturday's speaker was the International President, Barry Palmer.  I liked his "on the fly" idea to have a one-day lunch to target new female members-one day all over the world.  I hope he can make this a reality, but even if it's not worldwide, how about district wide?

The final keynote speaker on Saturday night was a truly amazing man, Patrick Henry Hughes.  Born with no eyes and a condition that does not allow him to straighten his arms or legs, Patrick is a college graduate and brilliant pianist.  He doesn't see a task and say "I can't do it" but instead, asks, "How can I do it?" 

Hearing these speakers, I can't help but come home inspired and motivated to do more as a Lion.  If the 2,000 other attendees feel the same, we won't be saying we can't succeed.  Lions will be finding a way.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Kansas City, here I come

It is Wednesday afternoon and as I check the passenger totals for my stand-by flight on Thursday to Kansas City to attend the USA/Canada Lions Leadership Forum, I realize there is no way I can get there in time for the Thursday evening keynote speaker and dinner.  I hurriedly throw  clothes into my suitcase, pack up my 2 dogs to drop off at the kennel, and head to the airport.  Not getting a seat on the 3:00 flight, I check my options.  If I can get on the flight to San Francisco at 5:36, I will be able to make the red-eye to Houston, and make it to KC by 9:41 in plenty of time to make the opening events of the forum.

As luck would have it (finally, some luck!) the 6:03 flight from San Francisco is delayed, and I make it to Kansas City at 1:30 am.  Whew!

What have I learned so far?  Plan ahead!

Now I've made it to the Overland Park Convention Center.  The hallways are filled with Lions from all over the US and Canada.  I take in the Exhibit Hall and the Lions Store.  Luck continues as I find Twin Falls own PID Floyd Miller and we grab a bite to eat.  Shortly thereafter, I find Lions Stevie Packard and Happy Olsen from the Boise Bench Club waiting to check in.  Now things are starting to fall into place!

Finally, the USA/Canada Forum 2013 has begun.

Our next few posts will tell you more about the weekend that nine Lions from District 39W experienced in Overland Park.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Volunteering at Ronald McDonald House

The Boise Capital Lions Club  gives assistance to Ronald McDonald House Charities of Idaho as one of their ongoing projects.  From collecting pull tabs from soda cans to cooking breakfast, the Lions give back to make things a little brighter for families when their children are undergoing hospital treatment.

The recent edition of the Ronald McDonald House newsletter, "Home Matters", features the Lions on the cover page.  Four times a year, the Lions cook breakfast for guests and staff, even bringing cinnamon rolls (yum!) donated by Radean's Restaurant.

 To volunteer with Ronald McDonald House, visit their website.  To volunteer with the Boise Capital Lions, visit their website or facebook page. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

New project for the Boise Vista Lions

The Boise Vista Lions are partnering with St. Luke's Children's Hospital to provide a Halloween party for the children who are undergoing treatment at the hospital.  Over the next few weeks, PDG Ashley, Lion Paula Campbell, and other Boise Vista Lions will be visiting Lions clubs.  They will be selling raffle tickets for a beautiful quilt with the proceeds going to St. Luke's Children's to purchase items to make the children's stays less stressful.  Tickets will be $5.00 each or 3 for $10, so be prepared for the Vista Lions to visit your club.

The hospital has also provided a list of toys and games they would like to have for the children.  If you can donate any of these things, they would greatly appreciate it.

For more information, or to purchase tickets, contact Ashley at 941-3238 or Paula at paulaj at 

Friday, August 30, 2013

Bringing better vision to Mozambique

     “Is anyone interested in going to Mozambique?” asked Henry for at least the 50th time.  

      “We have 4000 pair of glasses there waiting to be distributed, and no one to do it.”

     Thus started our journey to a country situated on the Southeast coast of Africa inhabited by people who speak Portuguese and Macua, but very little English.  This story actually started 3 years prior when Tom Porter, a volunteer for Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF),   gave a presentation at the Boise Bench Lions meeting.  There, he met Henry Cardinale, who sorts and distributes glasses for the Idaho Lions Eye Bank and eventually a shipment of glasses was sent to the MAF base in Nampula, Mozambique.  However, they’d been sitting in storage there for nearly 3 years.

     Having a love for travel and adventure, we decided this trip would be a great way to celebrate our relatively new status as retired persons.  So our preparations began.  The letter of invitation necessary to apply for visas was procured after much correspondence with Dr. Pim, the resident physician at Mission Marrere where we would be working.   A visit to St. Luke’s travel clinic yielded  shots, malaria pills, and advice about dietary concerns and mosquito netting.   Jay Lugo, from the Lions Eye Bank, was able to get us a much needed Plusoptix machine, and our friends, Dr. Pressman  and Angie Qualman from Lens Crafters, instructed us and made detailed notes on sorting glasses. 

     After 2 months of preparation, and many hours of travel with a diligent eye on our precious PlusOptix, we arrived in Nampula on Wednesday, April 17th, ready to begin our mission.  We were met at the airport by Dr.Pim’s family and transported the 18 kilometers to our guesthouse on the Mission Marrere property close to the hospital.  There we met Miguel who would shop for us, cook, do our laundry, and ultimately, become our friend.  We visited the hospital that afternoon only to find that most everything had closed at 2 p.m.  This reminded us of Dr. Pim’s advice, to relax and accept whatever came, because things happen on Mozambique time. 

     The following morning we met Irma Maria, the small but feisty Italian nun who almost single handedly manages the Marrere hospital. After struggling through various attempts at greetings in English and Portuguese, she was kind enough to assign us an interpreter, named Ilda, whose patience and kindness got us through the next few weeks.  Ilda, a midwife by profession, spoke 6 languages, and said she had delivered up to 40 babies a day. 

     We spent our 1st day unpacking and sorting glasses, helped by various hospital aides, dentists, and other curious people who stopped by.  We soon learned that the glasses had to be marked on the outside of the individual bags in order for the prescription to be read easily.  Luckily we had brought markers, a knife, and tape from home as we discovered there were very few supplies available, and what we had would disappear rapidly if not kept in hand.  Dan cut up the dusty cardboard boxes that stored the glasses, taped them, and made bins for the newly marked ones.  The temperature was around 96 degrees and we had no air-conditioning, just fans, but despite the heat we worked late because the Eye Technician, Aleluia, was determined to start screening people the next day. 

     Each morning thereafter we were greeted by a crowd of 50-75 people eagerly waiting to be screened and hopeful of receiving glasses.    The crowd would grow incredibly during the day, prompting our friend and maintenance man, Mr. Blue, to create a numbering system to avoid general chaos.   We quickly learned that by working through lunch time we didn’t lose our helpers, and despite frequent power outages Dan was able to screen between 70-100 people a day.  The Plusoptix machine looks like a radar gun;   you point it at a person’s eyes, and it registers their prescription on a computer screen adjacent to it. This was by far less time consuming than the traditional way that Aleluia screened people, and many of our patients thought it was magic.  But because the machine can’t read a person’s eyes if they have cataracts, have had eye surgery, or other eye problems, he referred about 1/3 of our screenings to Aleluia for further testing.  We were able to match some prescriptions quite closely, but discovered   that most people in this area are far-sighted and can benefit most by having simple readers and sunglasses.   When we realized that we would have many non-usable glasses because of the prescriptions, we started disassembling them, taking out the lenses, and giving away the frames.  We were told that frames were very costly in Nampula, but that you could buy prescription lenses reasonably.  

     We were determined to leave good records for the Hospital administrators so Dan filled out a prescription paper for each person he screened and noted whether they needed or received glasses or not, or were referred for testing.   In the evenings we would rewrite all the ledgers done that day as Ilda’s hand writing was almost illegible.  Our records show that Dan screened nearly 700 people in 10 working days. 

    We did have time for a few hikes on the Mission grounds and came to see that most people live in simple adobe houses, without electricity, running water, or indoor plumbing.  They have vegetable gardens and many fruit trees, but rely on infrequent rains to water their crops.  The women wear colorful traditional clothing; carry babies in wraps on their backs and everything else on their heads. The men wear more western style dress, but it is very common to go barefooted.   There are usually people camped on the grounds outside the hospital, because a family member is sick and they need to stay close by to help them.  

     We enjoyed walking to and from the hospital every day as there is a school on the grounds and we saw children playing soccer in the dirt (also barefooted), studying under the trees, and picking vegetables on the  weekends.  Many of them spoke a little English and were happy to teach us a few Portuguese phrases.  We wore scrubs with Lions patches sewn on throughput our mission, and were glad to see that many people were curious about the insignia and wanted to know about Lions and what we do.  Presently there are no Lions Clubs in Nampula, but there are several in the surrounding countries.  This was truly an amazing experience for us and we hope that through this short mission we have helped to introduce and promote the concept of Lionism in Mozambique.

(Contributed by Patty Frison, Boise Bench Lions Club member, who along with her husband and fellow Lion, Dan, distributed eyeglasses to Mozambique last April.)

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Young artists inspired by peace

January 15th was the first day for clubs to purchase Peace Poster kits for the 2013 -14 contest.

It may seem a little early for a contest that ends in November, but by getting a kit or 2 now, you're sure to find a school or youth organization that would like to participate and give them plenty of time to prepare their masterpiece.

And there will be masterpieces!  Just take a look at some of the winners that were produced last year (2011-12).  It's truly amazing what kids from 11-13 years old can do. 

Trisha Co Reyes, Philippines, 13 year old

 Aranas, Arizona, USA, 12 years old

Balaj Raisa Lara, Romania, 11 years old
Here in District 39W, we have selected a winner for the 2012-13 contest, which goes on to the Multiple District contest. The winner there is sent to Lions International to compete for one of the top 24 spots.

We congratulate our winner, sponsored by the Caldwell Lions Club.

Several 39W entries will be on display at the Midwinter Convention, Feb. 8-10.  Winning posters for 2012-13 for Lions International will be announced in February. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Lions are dying

I recently attended a meeting at a neighboring club.  The speakers were local Lions, Jonette Flores and Dana Miller from the Nampa Lions Club, talking about how they have five successful  Leo clubs in their area.  The membership in some of these clubs numbers over a hundred. 

In the Leo clubs, an enthusiastic adviser, often a teacher in the school where the club is located, is essential.  Lions sponsor the club, pay some of the costs, and work with the adviser and the Leos.  The Nampa Lions Club is exceptional in that they also provide training for the advisers and also for the Leo officers.

The Leos themselves determine the service projects or fundraisers they want to do, just like in a Lions club. Dana told of one such project from a middle school group.  The Leos decided they wanted to go Christmas caroling at a local nursing home.  They went to the music department in their school, recruited singers and borrowed sheet music, then crafted favors for the residents.

Later that day, I spoke to a long time Lion member who told me, "Lions are dying."

Clubs are getting old, members are dropping out, and Lions Clubs won't be around much longer, he stated.

I beg to differ.

With hundreds of youth interested in serving their communities?   

When these young people are learning to serve, learning leadership skills, and finding their passion right here in our own backyard?

When many Leos go on to be Lions because of the positive experience they've had?

When we, as current Lions, have the opportunity to recruit our successors now through Leos clubs?

If Lions are dying, it's our own fault.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Happy New Year!

It's not the Lions New Year, but a new year on the calendar, so it's still a good time to review...

Where are you with your goals for your Lions club?  What?  Forgot to make goals?  If you did forget, it's not too late; you still have 6 months left in your Lions year.  Let's call them resolutions...and I'll make a few for you...

1.  Resolve to get ___ new members by June 30th.  You fill in the blank with the number that is achievable, yet a bit of a stretch, for your club. 

2.  Invite ___ new people (preferably friends and acquaintances) to your meetings or projects.  If they don't know what you're doing, they probably won't join. (See #1)

3.  Network (that just means visit, nothing formal) with ___ other clubs.  The by-product here, is making new friends.  We can all use those.  The ulterior motive-you'll know who to call if you need some help on a project.

4.  Plan something for your club that is just for fun.  Purely for fun.  Not to raise money, not a new project, not to sit at another meeting.  Just get everyone together and go have some fun.  The bonds you make in friendship will strengthen and energize your club.  (Just don't be cliquey, include everyone.)

OK, there you go!  It's up to you to do the rest.