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793 million people cannot read these words. Approximately 50 percent of America’s unemployed youth, ages 16-21 are functionally illiterate.  60 percent of America's prison inmates are illiterate while 85% of all juvenile offenders have reading problems. One-fifth of high school graduates cannot read their diplomas. In light of these shocking statistics, The Visalia Pride Lions Club is promoting literacy and reading with several programs that include book reading contests, the donation of books to our local Gay-Straight Alliance High School Clubs and community children, and maintaining a lending library for its members. The club will also sponsor a literacy themed booth that includes a book giveaway for children at the community event, “Family Fest/Pride” on September 29th, 2012. These events and programs are part of the Lions Clubs International Reading Action Program, a global campaign taking place from July 2012 to June 2013 that focuses on implementing reading and education projects to help increase literacy rates worldwide.

“Lions are dedicated to providing community service. That dedication supports everything we do and our club participation in the Reading Action Program campaign is very exciting for us,” said Sandy Waymack, Visalia Pride Lions Club President. “We have several educators in our club and they immediately responded to the International President’s call for action on local literacy.  We will have a lot of fun creating and implementing these important programs this year.”

Prizes for the High School Book Reports have already been planned with a grand prize of an e-reader with internet access and Android Applications to be awarded in May.  The club had a colorful logo created for these literacy programs and Tee Shirts showing the logo were awarded to those club members who took leadership roles in August and September. 



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The Visalia Pride Lions Club has the great distinction of being the second LGBTQ Lions Club in California,  and they are very proud of that!  The Castro Lions Club in San Francisco has the honor of being the original club and is celebrating their 25 year anniversary this year. The club members started Visalia Pride Lions to assist their LGBT community and the larger Tulare/King County communities through projects, scholarships and volunteerism. The new club is currently 44 members strong and meets on the first and third Monday of the month, at Mimi’s Cafe in Visalia, CA. This is the 6th Lions International club in Visalia.

The Visalia Pride Lions originated with 24 members who were determined to create an influential LGBT club.  Their official Charter dinner party was held last April at the Visalia Convention Center. Among the 150 people who attended the gala event were the Mayor and Vice-Mayor of Visalia, several officers of the Lions Clubs International district staff and many members of other community clubs.  The Lions International organization has been very welcoming and supportive of the new club and hopes that there will be more LGBT Lions clubs starting in the Central Valley and across the state.  There is already interest in Bakersfield and Sacramento to form new clubs.

In their first year of charter, the Visalia Pride Lions hosted a “Meet and Greet” for The Trevor Project, an organization which supports LBGTQ youth through its crisis intervention and suicide prevention programs. Club members staffed booths at the Tulare County Suicide Prevention event and the Family Festival in Visalia, supported the Youth Prom in Fresno, collected 50 gifts for the Tulare Co. Foster Care program and volunteered services to the Visalia Lions Band Review. The last 2010 club project was funding LGBTQ libraries for 4 local high school GSA (gay-straight alliance) clubs and the COS Pride Club.

The Visalia Pride Lions Club is proud to be Number Two and looks forward to continuing their service with the Trevor Project, local LGBTQ youth clubs, and the many projects we plan for the community in the coming years.  The club is always welcoming new members and invites anyone interested to contact the club at .






Lions Clubs International is the world's largest service club organization with more than 1.4 million members in approximately 46,000 clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas around the world.

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