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Together we will expand upon the four priorities in upcoming Do You Know Lions segments.

We can all make a difference on our own, BUT together, we can change the world.  All in little steps.

Teamwork, Attitude and Thinking Outside the Box – all ways that will propel Vernon Lions Club forward to continue to be a pillar of OUR community.

Over the years, many Lions have gone on to celebrity status, never forgetting their roots in Lions and their desire for Service to their community.

*Lion Gerald Ford – 38th US President
*Lion Jimmy Carter – 39th US President
*Sir Edmund Hillary – mountaineer
*Admiral Richard Byrd – explorer
*Roberto Clemente – major league ball player
*Johnny Rutherford – Indy 500 winner
*Larry Bird – NBA Celtics player
*Chester Gould – creator of Dick Tracy

And two Honorary Lions:

*Helen Keller - author and champion of the blind
*Amelia Earhart – aviator

These celebrities along with 1.4 million Lions worldwide continue on their mission of Service.

Service to our Community and Lions Clubs International is very visible and measurable.  Teamwork, Attitude and Thinking Outside the Box are the best things about this amazing organization and being a Lion.

Quoting President Sheehan: “equipped with insight and inspired by opportunity, we can support our communities, our regions and our world.”

                           “Together We Can!”

“Do You Know Lions”  #1  by Tail Twister Mike Smith

This November will mark the start of the 78th year for Vernon Lions Club

Our charter from Lions Clubs International was granted on Nov 8, 1945, right after the end of the second world war with 23 founding members and led by Charter President Bill MacKenzie – the father of our present members Marnie and Bobbe MacKenzie.  It is a great honour to have both these active Lions in our Club.

As a service club with a motto of “We Serve”, Vernon Lions Club members have volunteered an enormous number of hours in the over 77 years since we were chartered.

Projects ranged from large to small, benefitting many different local groups, families and individuals.  Some projects that have been very visible in our community and many carried out with anonymity.

One of the most notable projects was the construction of the Polson Park bandshell, I believe in the 1950s, with a subsequent refurbishment in the early 90s with a government grant applied for by Lion Brian Willows.  Earlier members also committed to the Peanut Pool in Lakeview Park and Charter President Bill MacKenzie played a big part in its inception.  (as a side note, Lion Bobbe told me that her mother was really upset when she found out that Bill had signed for the loan to do the work)

Coldstream Lions’ major project in earlier days was the small Lion’s Park on 20th Street and later named Girouard Park by RDNO.

Sadly, Coldstream Lions disbanded and the RDNO in recent years took down the signage that recognized Coldstream Lions for their contribution for the use of future generations.

Another major project has been Vernon Lions unwavering support for Camp Winfield for children with disabilities.  Lion Mike Herrling did a 10 year stint on the Board and recently returned to the board to help in the operations of this most important facility.

Vernon Lions have made a huge difference over the years in helping to fund local non-profit groups including Upper Room Mission, Vernon MS Society, Vernon Hospice, Family Resource Centre, Lions Easter Seal House, NOCLS, Salvation Army, Vernon Search & Rescue, Parkinson’s Society, Vernon Community Dental, Independent Living, Project Elf, Santa’s Anonymous and many, many more.

In short Vernon Lions is here for our community to make a difference.

Some fundraising projects include Carnation Sales, Funtastic Beer Garden, Murder Mysteries, Shredding Event, Military Tattoo, Creative Chaos, Farmers Market and Car Show breakfasts and lunches.  Three major events are Ducks for Dogs chaired by Lions Ken and Sharon, Poker Night chaired by Lion Ron and the annual Golf Tournament, chaired by Lion Michele, in aid of Camp Winfield.

There is hardly an organization or cause that we haven’t touched in the Vernon area.

The global causes for Lions are: Childhood Cancer, Diabetes, Vision, Environment and Hunger.  Our Club’s Vision Screening Program is second to none and in the process of expanding to the rest of the zone and beyond. These efforts have been spearheaded by Lions Sharon and Ken and fully supported by the rest of the club. Used eyeglasses are collected locally and redistributed to the third world through CLERC in Calgary. We have also supported Diabetic Day Care.

“Together We Can”, the slogan for 2022-23 of Lions International President Brian Sheehan says it all. Together we are Team Lions.

In Pres. Brian’s words: “When you are a Lion, you are just never one person. You have a whole Team of Lions behind you.”

Stay tuned for our next instalment of: Do You Know Lions #2

“Do You Know Lions”  #2  by Tail Twister Mike Smith

A little bit about the Lions Clubs in our region.
As you know, the Vernon Lions Club was chartered on Nov. 6, 1945.  Over the subsequent years, Vernon Lions sponsored a lot of new clubs in our region.
Enderby Lions - chartered Aug 26,1947
Lumby Lions - chartered Sept 5, 1947
Lake Country (formerly Winfield Oyama Lions Club) - chartered March 28, 1968
Armstrong Lions - chartered April 8,1982
Along with Revelstoke, Sicamous, Coldstream, Salmon Arm and Edgewood Lions.

A reorganization of Zones occurred in 1951 bringing Enderby and Lumby Lions into Zone 1 along with Vernon Lions Club.  A Zone Chair was elected to work with the District Governor.  Multiple District 19 was formed in 1922 and our District D was created in 1950-51.

Sadly Revelstoke, Salmon Arm, Sicamous, Coldstream and Edgewood Lions Clubs for reasons unknown have all ceased to function. The Okanagan Shuswap had some very tough years in the 80's and 90's which likely contributed to their failure. Also, the average age of Lions' members has crept up.  So, thank you to all the younger members who have stepped up to be of "Service" to our community.

Presently there are five clubs in our Zone with approximately 165 members (and tonight with Lion Sylvia - 166).  Thank you Lion Sylvia.

Vernon Lions presently meets the 3rd and 5th Monday 
Enderby Lions meet the 2nd and 4th Thursday
Lumby Lions meets the 1st Tuesday
Armstrong Lions meet the 2nd Wednesday
Lake Country Lions meet the 2nd Monday

The largest club in Zone 1 is Enderby with 69 members and the smallest is a tie between Armstrong and Lake Country who each have 21 members as of Feb 27, 2023. 

The Immediate Past Zone Chair was Lion Ken Cain and presently Lion President Sharon Cain is just completing a two year term as Zone Chair.  Hopefully one of the other Clubs will put forward a nominee to take over the reigns from Zone Chair Sharon.

The Zone Chair is an integral part of the District Cabinet leadership team and locally helps co-ordinate all matters affecting Lions with our District Governor.

Lions Serve in communities big and small.  Responding to unique local needs is precisely what Lions do.  It's what we've done since 1917 - 105 years.  That's why when the world is experiencing hardship, Lions are there.  Lions everywhere are providing much needed hope to so many communities.

With over 1.4 million members in more than 46,000 clubs around the world - Lions are ready to "Serve"


Do You Know Lions? #3  by Tail Twister Mike Smith

The first instalment of Do You Know Lions reviewed a brief history of the Vernon Lions Club from its inception Nov. 8, 1945 to present.

The second instalment outlined present and past Lions Clubs in our Zone; and in turn our part in Multiple District 19D – represented by our Zone Chair and District Governor.

You will recall that our Multiple District was formed in 1922 and today there are 9 Districts with more than 10,000 Lions and Leos in 400 Clubs in BC, Idaho and Washington.

A further realignment of our Multiple District will occur on July 1, 2023 to reduce the number of District Governors from the present nine to five.  At that time our five Zone Clubs will all belong to a new, enlarged District I.

District Governors, Past District Governors and International Directors represent all Lions members as part of Lions Clubs International.

Today, Lions Clubs International is comprised of 1.4 million members in over 46,000 Clubs, 743 Districts in over 200 countries worldwide.

The current Lions Club International President is Lion Brian Sheehan, a mechanical engineer, from the Bird Island Lions Club in Minnesota.

President Sheehan is so proud of the way his Lions Club has come forward to be a pillar of the community that he chose as his Presidential Theme:

                   “Together We Can”

We can all achieve great things together using President Brian’s priorities:

  1.  Share the Joy of Being a Lion
  2.  Keep our Lions Foundation strong
  3.  Think Big When We Serve Our Community
  4.  Be a Local Advocate.

                   “Together We Can”



Do You Know Lions #4  by Tail Twister Mike Smith

Our Lions’ journey has taken us to Lions Clubs International.

Founded in June 1917 by a group of businessmen led by Melvin Jones.  Their dream and goal was NOT to promote business but instead to promote Community Service around the world.

The Mission of Lions is to empower Lions Clubs, volunteers and partners to improve health and well-being; strengthen communities and support those in need through humanitarian services and grants that impact lives globally, encourage peace and international understanding.

Lions have reached some notable milestones in their 105 years of service:

1920 – Windsor was the first club chartered in Canada making Lions truly international.

1925 – At the International Convention in Cedar Point, Ohio, author Helen Keller beseeched Lions to become “Knights of the Blind,” giving Lions their primary mission: Vision.

1939 – Members of the Detroit Lions Club started a school for Guide Dogs under the banner, Leader Dogs for the Blind.

1945 – The world’s second Eye Bank was founded by Lions in Buffalo, New York.

1954 – An international contest among Lions Club decided upon our official motto: “We Serve.”

1957 – The first Leo Club was formed in Pennsylvania.

1968 – Lions Clubs International Foundation was established.

1971 – Lions Clubs International moved to their present headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois.

1986 – Mother Theresa accepted the Lions Humanitarian Award and urged Lions to love. She said “the most terrible poverty is being unloved and having no one to care for you.”

1987 – Lions Clubs amended its bylaws and women were invited to become members.  These changes finally made our organization whole.

1990 – SightFirst is launched by LCIF to curtail blindness.  By 2005 approximately $182 million USD had been raised in over 89 countries.  Since 1990 more than 488 million people in 112 countries have been helped by Lions.  Over 9.3 million cataract surgeries have been performed; 2.3 million eye care and community health workers have been trained; over 1,350 eye centres built and equipped and over 500 million doses of medication distributed to control or halt eye disease.

2005 – Lions International Past President Dr. T. S. Lee from Korea launched SightFirst II and within three years exceeded the goal to raise $205 million USD.

2017 -  Marked Lions Clubs International’s 100 year Anniversary.

2021 – Judge Brian Stevenson from Calgary, chairperson of SightFirst and Past International President said: “a celebration of SightFirst’s 30th Anniversary would not be complete without first reviewing its founding philosophy: that enormous humanitarian objectives could be achieved if all 1.4 million Lions worldwide would unite in the common cause of blindness prevention.”

It is estimated that 2.2 billion people globally live with some form of visual impairment.

Through Lions Clubs International Foundation and SightFirst, Lions everywhere are making a huge difference.

Locally Lions have made a difference.

In 1997, local ophthalmologist Dr. Matthias Fellenz identified the need to have a eye clinic under one roof and approached the Armstrong Lions Club to help create his vision.  The Club undertook the project with the help of the other Clubs in the area to fundraise and build the Lions Vision Centre at the Pleasant Valley Health Centre in Armstrong.

The Centre opened in 2001.

Nine Lions Clubs in the Okanagan Shuswap along with grants from Lions International formed the Interior Eye Society and raised nearly $500,000 by 2011 including legacy donations to cover the cost of ongoing equipment.

Since that time a new argon laser was installed which saw Lions Clubs in Armstrong, Vernon, Lumby, Enderby and others, along with Armstrong Royal Canadian Legion #35 and the Armstrong Health Auxiliary raise $108,400 to defray the cost of this vital piece of equipment.

Currently there are three opthalmologists working out of this facility providing vitally needed eye health care to the community that “We Serve.”

No doubt there are Lions or guests in this room who have been patients at the Lions Vision Centre in Armstrong.

Lions in our community have every right to be extremely proud of our achievements in continuing the wish of Helen Keller, that Lions become the “Knights of the Blind.”

Do You Know Lions #5  Lions Clubs International Foundation

We’ve covered a lot of ground in the past four segments of Do You Know Lions.

The topic today is the right arm of Lions Clubs International – the Lions Clubs International Foundation or LCIF.

The Lions Foundation is the backbone of our organization and was founded in 1968. 

The mission of LCIF is “to empower Lions Clubs, volunteers, and partners to improve health and well-being, strengthen communities, and support those in need through humanitarian services and grants that impact lives globally, and encourage peace and international understanding.”

This year Lions Clubs International celebrated 77 years of partnership with the United Nations during Lions Day.  This event commemorates our long standing relationship going back to 1945 when Lions were asked to help develop a NGO charter for the United Nations.

The focus areas of LCIF are:

1:  VISION – LCIF is a world leader in the effort to prevent avoidable blindness, and diligently works with Lions Clubs and local partners to help provide the local capacity: building, training, medications and treatment needed for those with eye diseases and to provide disability rehabilitation and education. Worldwide there are over 1 billion people with vision impairment that could have been prevented or corrected.  The Lions SightFirst program has played a key role in reducing global blindness.  Vernon Lions Club is proud to do its part in providing vision screening at area schools. Lions Sharon, Ken, June and other club members did the groundwork to get this vital program up and running.

2: YOUTH – LCIF programs provide youth and young adults with the opportunity to succeed. LCIF’s signature youth education program is LionsQuest. This time-tested program began in 1975 and received its first grant from LCIF in 1984. Recently Lion Trudy was instrumental in organizing a seminar with a view to re-establishing LionsQuest in our Zone and District schools.

3: DISASTER RELIEF – When disaster strikes around the world, LCIF is on the ground working with local Lions and Leos Clubs to provide assistance in the wake of the most devastating hurricanes, floods, earthquakes and other natural disasters. In the last 6 months of 2022, Lions

Foundation awarded 173 disaster relief grants totaling $3.5 million.  Approximately 90% of the world’s natural disasters are water related.

4: HUMANITARIAN – LCIF works with Lions world-wide to identify the most crucial needs and supports our Clubs with grants in their efforts to provide humanitarian aid.  In the last six months of 2022, 394 humanitarian grants totaling $8.85 million were awarded.  Since 2010, Lions in 21 countries have stepped up to run Measles and Rubella vaccination campaigns.  An immunization dose costs just over $1 and saves lives. Between 2000 and 2014 measles deaths in children dropped by 79%.  There are still many millions of children left in the world to be immunized. 

5: DIABETES – Lions and Leos, through LCIF work to reduce the prevalence of diabetes and improve the lives of those living with this disease.  Programs supported are: Strides for Diabetes; Type 2 Diabetes Screening; Diabetes Peer Support Groups and Diabetes Camps.  An estimated 463 million adults are living with diabetes and by 2045 this number is expected to reach 700 million.  In 2019 alone there were 4.2 million deaths.  LCIF is dedicated to empower local Lions and Leos Clubs around the world to fight diabetes by Serving their communities.

6: CHILDHOOD CANCER – Lions with the support of LCIF are establishing programs and providing greater access and service to those diagnosed with childhood cancer.  Too many children across the world are being affected by cancer.  Globally, 400,000 children are diagnosed with 9 out of 10 of these patients living in middle or low income countries.  Sadly, less than 30% survive in the low income countries.  This is a new program for Lions Foundation and there were 13 grants to Lions’ projects in the last half of 2022.

7: ENVIRONMENT – the goal of LCIF is to help establish a sustainable future for generations to come. From recycling programs, ensuring areas have access to clean water and sanitation.  Through LCIF Lions have been planting trees since 2001. At that time, International President Wing-Kun Tam challenged all members to plant one million trees. They responded by planting 15 million trees.  Since then, Lions and Leos have been at the forefront planting on every habitable continent on earth.

8. HUNGER – LCIF provides grants and initiatives to help Lions provide meals and nutrition across the world.  It is estimated that one in nine people are chronically hungry and 25% of children suffer from stunted growth due to the lack of nutritious food.  These LCIF grants help support school-based feeding programs, food banks, feeding centres and facilities that provide food to people when they need it most.

In closing, Great Things Just Don’t Happen.  It takes the bold, forward visionary thinking of LCIF to provide innovation planning to achieve these larger-than-life goals.

This innovative approach of LCIF, supported by 42,000 plus Lions and Leos Clubs around the world, CAN and WILL achieve these goals.

I urge all Club members to encourage increased financial support of our Lions Foundation as the need has never been greater.

To quote Past International President Brian Sheehan:

“One person may look at all that needs to be done in this world and feel overwhelmed. “But when you are a Lion, you are never just one person. “You have a whole Team of Lions behind You”.

‘Together We Can’

Do You Know Lions #6  

Since March of 2023 I have endeavored to enhance member’s knowledge of the Vernon Lions Club and Lions Clubs International.

Our last Do You Know Lions was a glimpse into the backbone of our organization – the Lions Clubs International Foundation.  Since 1966 more than $1 billion in grants has been given out, with Canada receiving far more in grants than it has given.  The Canada Fund for LCIF exists so that Canadians can receive tax receipts for donations.

As with all presentations, they usually end up with a pop quiz.  Tonight is no different.

These are the rules going forward.

The following questions will be a true test of your retention and new found knowledge of Lions.

Some of us here may have wondered why there have been NO Tail Twister fines since March.  Lion Treasurer Brian has reminded me that I’m way behind in my budget goals.

If you answer a question correctly you will be exempt. Those that don’t may be asked to make a voluntary donation to Vernon Lions Club. 

So here goes:

  1. When was the first Lions Club formed?       - June 1917

   2  What was the name of the businessman founder of Lions Clubs?     - Melvin Jones

  1.  When did Lions Clubs become truly international and with what new Club?

                                     - 1920, Windsor Lions Club

4  Who beseeched Lions to become “Knights of the Blind”?       -Helen Keller

  1.  When was Vernon Lions Club chartered?      -Nov 6, 1945

6  How many clubs are there in our Zone?    - Five

7  Approx. how many Lions and Leos Clubs are there worldwide?       -42,000 plus

8  Approx. how many Lions and Leos are there around the world?       - 1.4 million

  1.  Which is the largest club in our Zone?         - Enderby

  10  What is the name of our new District on July 1st under the recent reorganization?   - District I

  11  What is the theme of our current International President?    - “Together We Can”

  12  Name two former US Presidents who are Lions?    - Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter

  13  Name one honorary Lion?     -Helen Keller

  14  What branch of Lions launched Sight First in 1990?    -LCIF, Lions Clubs Int’l Foundation

  15  Name the vision center in the North Okanagan founded and supported by area Lions Clubs.

                                 -Lions Vision Centre, Armstrong

Finally, I would like to read you some of the contributions Vernon Lions Club has made to our community over the years.

-Vernon Lions provided the funding to build the Bandshell in Polson Park in 1950, and later paid for the Bandshell upgrade in 2004.

-In excess of $75,000 has been donated to the Vernon Jubilee Hospital Foundation

-Vernon Lions sold roses and later carnations at Thanksgiving starting in 1980 providing a major source of revenue to the club to support its activities in the community.  The chair of this committee was Lion Gary Raasch who has since passed on.

-Vernon Lions supplied a Wheelchair Bus to the Hospital in 1981 with Lions drivers volunteering to take patients and shut-ins to their appointments and transporting patients to and from the hospital.  The club also transported local blind and vision impaired weekly to bowling and to play crib at Halina Centre and to Kelowna.

-Vernon Lions supported Diabetic Day Care at VJH annually, supplying insulin pumps and contributions to support their programs.  Lions also funded the computer systems at Diabetic Day Care.

-Vernon Lions sponsored the DARE program in local high schools in conjunction with the RCMP.  This acronym stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education.

-Vernon Lions provided the benches on the new boardwalk in Polson Park

-Our Club used to run the Senior Men’s Slow-Pitch League for 55+ with 20 teams

-Vernon Lions sponsored Western Night at the Winter Carnival for many years.

-Vernon Lions supported the Dog Guide program of LCIF since 1981 and still provide for 2 local Dog Guides when needed.

-Vernon Lions has been a major supporter of Creative Chaos since its inception and still cooks a breakfast at the event for vendors.

-Lions members were heavily involved in delivering Meals on Wheels since the early days with the Schubert Centre providing hot meals for residents.

-Other activities included: Funtastic Beer Gardens, Do It For Dad water stations and parking, Salvation Army Kettle Campaign, supply and cook monthly breakfasts at the Upper Room Mission as well as the Annual Spring BBQ every April, Grey Canal Trail cleanup, O’Keefe Ranch spring cleanup, and Vernon MS Society Walk/Run/Ride under Lion Rene Gendron. Lions have given Scholarships to area high schools and bursaries to Okanagan College.

-Vernon Lions collect glasses that are shipped to Calgary Lions to be sorted and sent all over the world to needy recipients.

-Vernon Lions collect beer and pop tabs that are sold to the refinery with the proceeds going to medical equipment at Camp Winfield.

In closing I would like to thank you all for allowing me time for this presentation over the past four months.  These presentations will all be posted on our Club website. 

I hope members new and old learned something about Lions.

“We Serve”

Lion Mike Smith, Tail Twister


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