Lions want to restart vision screenings

Published 10:18 am Monday, October 12, 2015

Vicksburg Lions Club has a vision of restarting one of its most widely praised service projects.

The club is considering restarting vision screenings for students at local elementary schools, club president Susan Johnston told members Wednesday.

“We used to do this and it was successful but the schools changed the way they were doing stuff and we weren’t able to get a commitment,” Johnston said.

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If the project begins, Lions Club members would book the use of vision screening equipment from the state Lions office, and local members would be trained to provide the service at no cost to students or parents.

“We could if we could get geared up start in January possibly or get the foundation laid and start next summer,” Johnston said.

Vicksburg Warren School Superintendent Chad Shealy said he supported the return of Lions vision screenings.

“We’re always open to work with any of the civic groups and their projects,” Shealy said.

Byram Lions Club members are responsible for saving the sight of Shealy’s son, the superintendent said. A routine screening performed by the club discovered the boy was legally blind in his right eye.

“The whole issue with us is if it had gone unnoticed, he could have lost vision in his eye,” Shealy said. “Them being there for my son was a benefit for my family. I would support anything they want to work with.”

It’s been years since Lions offered the screenings, but members who spoke up Wednesday seemed to be in support of the project.

“We used to do it for churches and everywhere else,” said club member Charles Calhoun.

The proposed project is part of the club’s push to offer more local services, members said.

Of the $8,940 budgeted for service projects this year, the vast majority goes to state or national Lions’ projects, members said.

“We don’t have enough service projects to volunteer and keep the interest of club members, I think,” Johnston said. “We do give a lot of money, but a lot of it is to projects that are outside of Vicksburg and Warren County.”

Lions Club also closed a chapter of local club history by ending its sponsorship of the Leo Club at St. Aloysius High School due to a lack of club participation.

“You need an advisor and you need some commitment with the kids. At this point, the club has not been active at least two years,” Johnston said.

To sponsor the Leo Club, the local Lions Club must pay $100 per year to the national club.

There are no public school chapters of the club, she said.

“We’ve also talked to the public schools but with the new curriculum and all the changes, teachers are hesitant to take on another commitment of starting a club from scratch,” Johnston said.

Lions Club Treasurer Jerry Dean said club members had tried to revive the club in the past few years with little luck.

“We’ve tried to revive the club but there was no sponsorship there from them to work with us on it,” Dean said.

Withdrawing sponsorship does not prevent the club from chartering another Leo Club if there is interest.

“We always have the opportunity to start a new Leo Club,” Johnston said.