The Presidents Corner
2011 was another active and exciting year for Lions in Sight. We conducted ten successful mission trips to Mexico and continued to support our many permanent clinics in Mexico with fresh supplies of donated glasses. We also continued our collaboration with the Boy Scouts, joining them in the National Food Drive by having our appeal to donate used eyeglasses included in their door hanger. The door hangers were placed on one million homes in the greater Bay Area resulting in ten’s of thousands of good quality eyeglasses.
Without a doubt the most notable accomplishment of2011 was the installation of two permanent clinics in the Philippines and in India. LIS, through the support of the San Francisco Bay Area Philippine- America Lions Clubs and the host Lions Clubs of Das Marinas, Cavite, Philippines, opened the first Lions in Sight permanent clinic in the Philippines. A team consisting of Lead Trainer Corina Van De Pol, Adrian Tatarakis, Maricela Robles, Dr. Bill Iannaconne, LIS 1st Vice President Khush Bodhan and me left for Manila on November 16th. We were housed at the De La Salle University health Institute Medical Center in their guest house. The university provided an ideal location to provide the local Lions with the training required to run a successful clinic.
After two days in the classroom, we conducted two more days of a temporary clinic to provide practical, hands on training in the skills of selecting glasses and fitting patients with their donated glasses from the supply of 100,000 donated pair of glasses that had been shipped over from the LIS warehouse. Dr. Van De Pol worked closely with local Optometrists on methods to efficiently provide a large number of patients with comprehensive eye exams. At the end of our clinic it was clear that it was in the excellent hands of the Cavaite Lions. We have already received reports of their accomplishments and progress.
I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks to Dr. Augusto Velera (Dr. Jun) and to Lion Helen Marte. They approached us with their vision and desire to see a permanent clinic in Das Marinas. It would never have happened without their hard work, determination and efforts to raise the capital necessare to see this project to completion.
On November 25th our team boarded a plane in Manila and headed to Kolkuta, India to train Lions and open the 61st Lions in Sight permanent clinic. We were met in the wee hours of the morning at the Kolkuta airport by Past International Director A.P. Singh, Lions and associates. The next four days resembled the program in the Philippines with training and a hands on clinic for the local Lions.
The Kolkuta Lions Club owns a building that is ideal for a permanent clinic, located in an area of great need and a population that has need of their services. As in Das Marinas, the local Lions were very enthusiastic and extremely capable. They even hired Optometrists to work full time at the new clinic.
During the temporary clinic part of the training we conducted nearly 300 eye exams per day. By the end of the second day we were merely observers watching the new staff efficiently operate the clinic.
The hospitality of Lion A.P. and the other local Lions was nothing short of incredible. PID Singh has very aggressive goals for the operation of the Kolkuta clinic which includes taking doctors, staff and equipment to other parts of the city to conduct temporary clinics, over and above the permanent clinic duties. That could result in thousands of eye exams and eyeglass distributions per month. I fear that the 100,000 pair of glasses we shipped them to start the clinic may not last very long. However, that is a problem we welcome.
Because we shipped nearly 400,000 of glasses out of our warehouse this year for permanent clinics alone, we need donations of glasses to restock our warehouse. Our stocks have not been this low since the warehouse fire ten years ago. I appeal to all Lions, Leo’s and volunteers to help us raise our stocks.
LIS warehouse manager Walter Griffin has purchased several hundred new display/Collection boxes which are smaller than the previous version and more sutible for merchant countertops. If you contact Walter at the warehouse at 707-648-2306 we would be happy to get you together with attractive new boxes.
Past District Governor Jack Epperson of Nevada has been working closely with COO Dr. Bill Iannaccone to successfully lobby the Nevada Prison Authority to allow LIS to begin a Blind Project in two Nevada Prisions. With the successful completion of the grant process we will have two more prison locations on board and be able to process more donated glasses for our temporary eye clinics. If you can supply us with eyeglasses, we can process them and put them to good use.
Not all of our projects were a complete success. In August we had a team of twenty-eight doctors and technicians ready to fly to Belgrade, Serbia to conduct what would have been our largest temporary clinic to date. Days before take-off we were informed that the glasses we had shipped ahead has been seized by custom authorities. Efforts by many could not win the release of our glasses and the clinic had to be canceled. Many who were scheduled to go went ahead and enjoyed a vacation in Eastern Europe. By all reports it was a lovely place to visit.
As always, we thank all of you who have given Lions in Sight your support in 2011 by volunteering, donations, eyeglass collection or to spread the word about our services. Without volunteers like you we could never realize the accomplishments we had throughout the year.