Local Lions Club helps Hinds student achieve his goals in the classroom

Published 9:55 am Wednesday, September 28, 2016


While buzzing around the car, a horse fly broke Ronald Bailey’s glasses.

Yes, you read that correctly. In an effort to avoid getting bitten, he dropped his glasses, damaging the lenses and leaving him to squint at the teacher while attending classes at Hinds Community College.

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But thanks to the Vicksburg Lions Club, the horse fly didn’t get the last laugh. Bailey, a Vicksburg native, received a new set of glass last week that were paid for by the organization.

It’s an important step, he said, to doing well in his studies.

“I can’t see far away, so it was hard for me to take notes,” he said. “Without being able to see, I wouldn’t be able to read or learn.”

And doing well in his studies plays an important role in getting his life turned around. Bailey was released from a four-year prison sentence in May for aggravated assault and simple robbery.

“I was young, dumb and didn’t know nothing,” the 21-year-old said of the crimes he committed at age 17. “No matter how far you turn down the wrong road, you can always turn back.”

Turning back is what Bailey said these glasses are helping him to do.

After receiving his GED and a culinary arts certificate while incarcerated, he is now pursuing his associate degree in accounting from Hinds with the hopes of one day opening his own restaurant to follow his passion for cooking, something he said runs in his family.

“My daddy cooked a lot and his momma cooked a lot, so it may be inherited,” he said, noting he hopes to open a restaurant featuring healthy food for diabetics. “I know it will take some time to get there.”

The Lions Club donates an estimated 25 to 30 pairs of glasses each year, sight chairperson Jeannie Melton said.

“Mainly what we’re looking for is need,” she said. “We’re looking for the single mom who needs help, the elderly person living on a fixed income or the student — like in Ron’s case — who needs help.”

Melton said that the number of donated glasses varies from year to year but “ a lot of people don’t realize the Lions Club is here to help them.”

United Way agencies and school social workers have Melton’s contact information to get an application for glasses through the Lions Club. The new glasses often require an eye exam that the club also pays for, she said.

In Bailey’s case, a “concerned, caring teacher” introduced him to the Lions Club as an avenue to improve his vision after he lost his job as a cook at River City Steakhouse when it closed.

“I give her and the Lions Club big thanks,” Bailey said.

Lions Club president James Harper said the sight program is funded through community donations.

“A large part of our donations go toward the program,” he said. “We try to (provide) as many as we can afford.”

Melton said the best way to receive an application for the program is to reach out to a Lions Club member, a local United Way agency or a school social worker.