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OPINION: Lions Clubs steeped in service

The Bethlehem Lions Club met recently for the first time with several members of the other civic and service organizations in the Bethlehem area in order to coordinate and consolidate efforts of volunteer community service.

Represented were the Masons, Kiwanis, Rotary and the Bethlehem Business Women’s organizations to discuss their club’s functions and services to the community. It is noteworthy that such dedicated individuals accomplish a great deal of work that benefits the quality of life for residents of the Town of Bethlehem as well as to people in need worldwide.

The Bethlehem Lions Club has been serving the Town of Bethlehem since 1954. It is one of over 46,000 Lions clubs in 206 countries and geographic areas worldwide. The club is made up of men and women who are private citizens who give of their time and resources, who volunteer, who make certain that there is a “hands up” for those in need. These members do it not for government, not for the state, but for the community as a whole. They live by the motto of Lions Clubs International, “We Serve” and answer Helen Keller’s request to serve as “Knights of the Blind.”

The primary focus of the Lions Club International ( http://www.lionsclubs.org/EN/index.php ) is to support research for cures for vision and hearing impairment on a local and worldwide basis. To accomplish this mission, the Bethlehem Lions raise funds to support scholarships for area high school students, award funds to research institutions (the Lions Eye Institute in Slingerlands – which is 1 of 8 such institutes in the U.S.), support social programs for youth (summer camps for the visually impaired) and provide funds to facilities that train guide dogs which give blind individuals a means to remain mobile. Occasionally, funds are awarded to individuals who pursue projects that merit the organization’s support such as the doctors who work to cure River Blindness in Africa and Eagle Scout projects. We also reach out to people in need through Lions Clubs International all over the world, most recently victims of Hurricane Irene and earthquakes in Haiti and Japan.

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