Lionism: tail twister and lion tamer aside

If I'd tell you I'm a lion, you'd say I need some time off. What if I said I had a tail twister and a lion tamer? Bonkers, you'd conclude.

It's true. I am a Lion with a capital "L" and there are 44 others in my den.

Over 46,000 Lions clubs and 1.35 million members in over 200 countries make Lions the world's largest service club organization. And, we're also one of the most effective.

Our members do whatever it takes to help our communities. Everywhere we volunteer, we make friends…with children and adults who need eyeglasses, seniors who don't have enough to eat, high school students who need scholarships for college, missionaries traveling to the poorest regions of the world, bringing sight, hearing and other services, preschoolers whose eyes we test for early childhood sight issues, young artists who endeavor to express peace through their drawings and so many others.

Our vision is to be the global leader in community and humanitarian service, and our mission is to empower volunteers to serve their communities and promote international understanding.

While I am somewhat of a new-be, going on four years, looking back on my first impression, I recall the compelling qualities that drew me into the organization.

The Lions' Code of Ethics embodies the belief in being positive when doubts arise, building up others, avoiding unfair advantages, being sincere, remembering our obligations to our nation, state and community, to give of our time and labor, to be sympathetic when the chips are down, helping the weak and sharing our bounty.

Iowa KidSight, the Sioux City Noon Lions largest and most comprehensive outreach program, is a statewide vision screening for infants and children.

Iowa KidSight is a collaborative project between the Lions Clubs of Iowa and the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, dedicated to enhancing early detection and treatment of vision impairments in young Iowa children (target population 6 to 48 months of age) through screening and public education.

Lions Club volunteers throughout Iowa have been trained to organize and conduct free, non-invasive, vision-screening sessions. The results are interpreted by trained staff in the UI Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and returned to families.

Through Iowa Kids Sight, Lions volunteers screen youngsters for amblyopia, the most common vision problem in preschool children. Without early childhood screening, amblyopia often goes undetected, causing a decrease in vision in one or both eyes or permanent vision loss.

It's estimated that three to five percent of the U.S. population suffers from amblyopia, which means some 9,000 Iowa children under the age of four suffer from poor vision in one or both eyes.

Oh, by the way, KidSight vision screenings are free. That's how Lions likes to do things.

So, the next time you have a chance to join a Lions Club, attend and/or volunteer at a Lions event, such as Pancake Days, Oct. 5-6, Shrine Temple, 508 Nebraska Street, Sioux City, purchase Lions' mints, support Lions' scholarships or Peace Poster art competition, don't hesitate one iota. Because when you do, you'll do a whole lot of good for many.


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