When Lions Club International passed the vote to strike gender from the constitution Lioness clubs were presented with the option to become a Lions Club (previously male only), or remain a Lioness club (previously female only). This issue was thoroughly researched and information presented to the East Brooklyn Lioness Club. The majority of the members voted to become Lions. With the dedicated assistance of our Guiding Lion, Earle B. Wilson, this became a reality on May 16, 1988. The late Lion Bernice Best was elected Charter President.

The CBLC has served our community well through various activities. During Lion Best’s tenure (1988-1990), CBLC sponsored the Central Brooklyn Leo Club, one of the most outstanding projects, with Carlos Whitman as Charter President. The Leo Club has grown well under the leadership of Lions Dian Coombs, Ernestine Harrison, Marjorie Walters, C. Coma, Lion TyEast Alleyne-Bobb, Lion Ashley. Campbell-Goolgar, and Lion Benita Malloy. The club is currently in rebuilding status.

The club began its new legendary volunteer work at John Wesley United Methodist Church Soup kitchen. It is there that Lion Glenner Strachn Lion Ermine Myers, and Lion Morval Gibson provided service each Thursday. Central Brooklyn Club began to sponsor the Peace Poster competition – a contest run worldwide by Lion International in local schools. Several Health Fair which was successfully held with the far reaching assistance of the Caribbean Women’s Health Association, Congressional Friends of Glaucoma Screening, Kings County Nurses, NYC Fire Department among other agencies and departments. The public received screening services for blood sugar and blood pressure testing, eye testing for glaucoma, nutritional counseling

Under the leadership of Lion Myrtle Peele the club finally awarded its first Melvin Jones Fellowship to five members – Lions Diane Coombs, Mildred Hurlock, Dorothy Providence, the late Bernice Best and Myrtle Peele. Today that number has increase and Central Brooklyn boast of having over a dozen MJF’s and over five Progressive Melvin Jones Fellows. The Melvin Jones Fellowship Award is named after our founder Melvin Jones, who had the vision to lead a group of businessmen to form a Lions Club in Chicago and there stands the headquarters for Lions Clubs International worldwide.

Another milestone was the incorporation of our club on November 15, 1996. The purchase and training of a guide dog who we named Nuffy, which was matched to a sightless individual. This was one exciting and major project started. Work with the blind continued as some of our members volunteer as “Eye Transporters” transporting corneas from the various airports throughout NY area to the Long Island Lions Eye Bank. The Lions also work hard as transporters, to name a few Lions Heather, Doreen, Curtis and Barbara. St Francis de ’La Salle School for the Blind on Eastern Parkway was presented with TTY machines and a laminator by the club. The club also provided a video eye magnification system to the Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza.

Central Brooklyn Club adopted the dining room at the Vacation Camp for the Blind (VCB) upstate New York and every year we would journey to Spring Valley for the summer and fall clean up. We also provided utensils, crockery, cutlery, glasses, plates, microwave, and kettles among other items to VCB. Sight conservation through the used eye glasses collection is another way we work with the blind. We send these glasses to the recycling plant in New Jersey where the glasses are washed, sterilized, and repair for future use. Central Brooklyn Lions has also collected funds for LCIF Sight First I and II and have exceeded our budgetary amounts of well over $10,000.

Working with the youth is undoubtedly a major achievement of Central Brooklyn Lions Club. We collect and donate school supplies annually; sponsored a youth to the youth exchange programs in Cambodia and other countries. The “Letter to Santa” from the USPS was also adopted for a short period. We fulfill the needs of those children at Christmas by honoring whatever the letters requested. “Toys for Tot” for the children in shelters is an annual obligation. We also established the Pennies from Heaven Fund, which assists high school students in purchasing graduation needs. All past presidents of the Club are members of the Education Committee; they raise funds for the “Bernice Best Educational Scholarship” to provide four year scholarships for high school students entering college. The Leos are not forgotten, they receive a monetary donation after graduating from high school.

The new Reading Action Program (RAP) was readily adopted by our club and we began working with the Benjamin Banneker School, Parkside School, and Nathaniel Green Schools. We have provided reading materials to these schools and would continue to foster relations through our hands-on reading project at Parkside School. Lions provide 10-15 minutes reading sessions reading to the children.

The environment is on our radar and we impact the ‘carbon foot print’ by collecting ink cartridges, plastic bottles, paper products and recycle them. We have adopted the Robert Mc Nair Park on Eastern Parkway and Lions planted trees, flowers and shrubs; raked leaves; and painted the rails and benches at the park. We also participated in Beach clean-up, Creek clean-up, school painting and other projects at district level.

Response to natural disasters was epic; we donated clothing, food, toiletries to the Haiti Earthquake and continued to provide toiletries to the ladies for well over a year. The club held a walk in Canarsie Park to raise funds for the Haiti disaster. Hurricane Sandy was no exception we provided food, cleaning supplies, household items, clothing and bedding to our neighbors in Coney Island, Staten Island, and Queens. Central Brooklyn also donated equipment and books to re-open a child care program which was affected by Hurricane Sandy in Queens. It would remiss of us not to mention that our Lions provided support during the 911 disaster in NYC.

Our elderly in our community is not forgotten, our lions conduct a monthly Bingo session at Carlton Nursing Home. We provide celebratory parties for Mother’s Day, Father’s day, Thanksgiving and Christmas, Easter for the residents of Carlton. We have also provided services for other nursing facilities throughout the years. We work in partnership with Fenimore United Methodist Church with their seniors and the community feeding program. Some Central Brooklyn lions have adopted seniors and provide thanksgiving baskets to the shut-in; they provide daily care and run errands.

Lions volunteer; donate office supplies; provide administrative services; assists with transportation for the Coalition for Concern Medical Professionals (CCMP), a Brooklyn based organization that provides medical care for undocumented residents.

Central Brooklyn Lions strive to make a difference in the community through the array of service projects and events. Our lions share a common vision of helping people as we embrace our motto “We Serve”. We are ordinary people doing extra ordinary things, as we embrace what the future holds for our community.

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