Monday, September 29, 2014

Vision Screening for September

Our vision screener generally takes the summer months off.... not because we plan it that way, there just isn't a lot of vision screening to do during some months.  Our main focus is children and the best place to find them is school.

By the end of August we've sent an email to all school nurses, public health nurses, and other contacts in our files from previous years, suggesting that it was time to get on our schedule.  Some will respond right away and others will trickle in throughout the school year.  In the end, we generally screen about 1,000 children and adults each year.

This is what we've done so far this year:

Back to School Fair:  screened 18; referred 2

Early Learning Fair:   screened 60; referred 11
Raven Homeschooling:  screened 17; referred 5
Auke Bay Co-op Preschool:  screened 15; referred 5

On the horizon:

  1. Our old vision screener is visiting Hoonah for a few days getting the children there screened.
  2. Alaska Health Fair
  3. HCCM (Health Care Cost Management Corporation of Alaska)
Offering free vision screening is one of the most gratifying community service projects we have.  We are encouraged to be working with the school district to get into ALL the elementary schools in town and even screen more than pre-school children.  

We Serve!
Lion Nancy

Sunday, September 21, 2014

New Lion Member

We're pleased to welcome our newest member, Lion Susan Albury to the family of Lions!

Lion Susan is fairly new to Juneau but has been checking us out since she arrived.  Lion Steve is her sponsor, significant other, and partner and he's been bringing her to meetings for quite some time now.  Lion Susan also helps out at events whenever she can.
So far she's been a great Lion!

Lion Allen and Hari Dev
Last night was our "end of year" social and we had a great time!  Lion Allen invited some friends Mukhya and Hari Dev that we're hopeful will also become a part of our family.  

Lions Donna and Bob
The food was great, the company was great.  We made new friends and caught up with old friends. We get so busy with being Lions, that some times we forget to be just friends.

Geri and Susan
We have to remember to have more gatherings as it's a great time to get to know each other just a little better and re-connect.

Susan, Lion Mike N., and Lion Steve
Lion President Mike N. inducting Susan into the Mendenhall Flying Lions Club.
Susan and Lion Mike N.

Lion Steve pinning Lion Susan with one of his favorite pins.
Our newest Lion Family!
We are thrilled to have Lion Susan and her children as the newest members of our family.  She brings with her the desire to learn, an enthusiasm to make a difference, and the ambition to help get the job done!  Yep, she's going to be just fine!

And we want to thank all the Lions and spouses (who haven't yet made a commitment) who joined us!  Let's do it again, soon!

We Serve!
Lion Nancy

Litter Pick Up

Picking litter up in the Fall in Juneau is predictable.  You just KNOW it's going to be rainy! 
But we do it anyway.  

I don't know about the rest of Alaska, but here in Juneau Xtratuff boots are part of our wardrobe.  
We wear them every day, every where.  To the movies, shopping, even to weddings.  

Me?  Not so much....  
I don't wear rain gear either.  
I'd rather get wet, I guess. 

It was a fun morning walking along with my tennis shoes squishing from so much rain, and my legs numb from pants soaked from the rain.  

It was a small group of us who showed up for litter pick up.  
We started out at Donna's Restaurant for some much needed coffee prior to heading out. 
Some times we get so caught up in our business meetings that it's nice to gather together just to visit.
Jill, Lion Mike N., Lion Soapy, and Lion Nancy (not shown)
The stretch of road we clean (Glacier Spur Road that takes you to the Glacier) wasn't too bad.
A few of the gems we found yesterday besides the usual whiskey bottles and pop cans, was a land line phone, lots of dental floss, and a syringe.  Until next spring....

We Serve!
Lion Nancy

Monday, September 15, 2014

Submission: 49A Webpage

I've been busy posting articles on the District 49A web page.  This is something they have asked clubs to do themselves.  This is all part of letting other clubs, members, and leaders know what we're doing.  If you click on the article, it will take you to the website:

We Serve!  
Lion Nancy

Submission to Lions Magazine: Lions Packs

This article was submitted to Lions Magazine.  They've since been in touch with us for more information and have said that they will rewrite in their "style" but it will definitely be published probably May of 2015!  Below is what was submitted to them:

Lions Packs

This journey started more than a year ago.  Let me start from the beginning. 

On December 2, 2012, there was a “My Turn” article in our local newspaper, the Juneau Empire, written by Representative Les Gara expressing a need for foster homes.  It was a well-written article and one that caught my attention.  But I couldn’t be a foster parent and the article was forgotten.  Fast forward to August 27, 2013, to an Editorial in the paper entitled, “Reach out and hold the hand of a child.”  This article, too, was about the need for foster homes.  Still, I was not in a position to be a foster parent. 

In the Editorial, John Bennett, Family Support Specialist in the Juneau Alaska Center for Resource Families office said, “Sometimes, all OCS (office of child services) can come up with is only a temporary home…. In a couple of weeks (that child may have) bounced again.  Every time that kid makes a move, it’s harmful to the child.”  This statement made me sad.  It got me thinking -- what if this was my grandchild? 

And that's all it took.  From there we learned that oftentimes children are taken into foster care with nothing but the clothes on their back, or if they do have personal belongings, it's stuffed in a garbage bag.  No suitcase.  No backpack.  A garbage bag....  As if their personal belongings had no value…. 

I'm ashamed to admit that I’ve never given much thought about foster care or the children affected, but I suspect that's because it has never involved me.  I didn't know anyone in foster care, I didn't know any foster care families.... but for some reason, this article spoke to me.  What IF it was one of my grandchildren being taken into foster care, carrying their belongings around in a black garbage bag? 

It didn’t take much thought or consideration before I knew we must contact OCS to see if there was anything we, the Lions, could do.  Our idea was to provide a backpack to each child who enters the Foster Care Program.  Inside the backpack, we would include a few items of comfort and necessity, items to ease the pain of those first few hours of their new life.  This would be theirs to keep, something they could take with them if they got bounced to another foster home.

This idea was warmly received by OCS, and Lions Packs was born. 

Next we met with OCS to talk details:  how many children did they estimate would enter the Foster Care Program in the next year, what age groups/gender, and what items would be most welcome.   A committee was formed and from there we decided on a list of items to put into the backpack, we selected a date for a community drive, and a date for delivery of our backpacks to OCS. A timeline was set so we knew when everything had to be done.  It was now October 24, 2013…. The delivery date we chose was December 2….   We had 39 days to pull this off…  I was told we couldn’t possibly meet this deadline, we didn’t have enough time.  Maybe that’s why we met our goal!  It wasn’t so much about ME meeting MY goal but about the kids.  The sooner we could get these backpacks delivered, the more children we could help.  December 2 would happen. 

We quickly went to work, each of us going in different directions, making things happen.  A poster was created and put on bulletin boards around town announcing our program and asking the town for donations.  A bookmark was created with a list of items needed and handed to everyone we came in contact with.  We contacted the local newspaper and they jumped on board and wrote a feature story on our project.  We advertised via social media – Facebook, e-Clubhouse, and our blog, The Flying Lion.  We approached businesses for donations.  Every dentist in town gave us toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss.  The Moose Lodge donated Tommy the Moose stuffed animals.  We visited thrift stores for gently-used backpacks and Friends of the Library for books.  Hotels gave us sample shampoos, conditioner and body lotion.  Friends and family chipped in and brought us blankets, coloring books, and crayons.  The train was heading down the tracks and there was no stopping us!  And this was all happening BEFORE our community drive! 

On the day of our collection drive, we set up a table at the mall and waited….  We didn’t know if we were going to get five decent backpacks or 20 so badly worn that they would have to be thrown away.  During our planning stage we came up with seven categories by gender/age and items we thought would fit into each category.  They were:  Infant to 2 years; Toddler Boy age 3-6; Toddler Girl age 3-6; Pre-Teen Boy age 7-11;Pre-Teen Girl age 7-11; Teen Boy age 12-18; Teen Girl age 12-18.  We asked for the following donations: 
new or gently-used backpacks
travel-size shampoo, conditioner, and deodorant
toothbrush (infant and adult) and toothpaste
hair brush/comb
small infant toy
small stuffed animal
coloring book and crayons
writing journal and pen

We were at Ground Zero.  It was Zero Hour.  We waited. 

But we didn’t have to wait long before people started walking towards our table with their arms full of bags and boxes of donations.  Children proudly stated they cleaned out their toys to donate.  We had one lady donate 175 Boyd’s Bear stuffed animals and another over 300 Beany Babies.  Backpacks were dropped off – new and gently used.  We visited with those who had stories to tell about someone they knew being in foster care or how they were foster care parents.  We listened to their stories and it felt good to know we were on the right path, we were doing something good for the community—our neighbors, family, and friends. 

At the end of our day, we received over 100 new and gently-used backpacks, over 600 stuffed animals, 299 shampoos, 263 toothbrushes, 127 soap, coloring books, toys, books, and so much more!  We were flabbergasted by the sheer volume of donations received!  We were humbled by all the “thank you’s” received by total strangers. 

But we weren’t done.  Our next task was to wash all the backpacks and make sure they were as new looking as we could get them.  Tables were set up in the garage and donations sorted by gender/age and category and, like a well-greased machine, each Lion, friend, and grandchild went from pile to pile filling the backpacks with items that would bring comfort and joy to these children on what could possibly be the worst night of their life.  Of all the backpacks we received, one stood out.  You could tell it was good quality; it looked like it had been put to good use over the years.  I washed it twice.  We don’t know who donated it, but tucked inside one of the pockets was a note.  It read, “this pack is a great companion.  It made it to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro.”   We laminated the note and left it in a pocket….  maybe the teen boy who received this backpack will find value in what this other person went through and realize that as bad as this moment was for him, that all things are possible with determination and a dream. 

On December 3, three of us delivered 95 backpacks -- two car loads filled with love -- to the Office of Children Services.  They were expecting them, but you could tell by the look on their faces that they weren’t expecting THIS! 

It was a year ago, today, that got me thinking…. Not “could” we help these children, but “how” could we help them.   Over this past year, we have continued collecting books, making “tag” blankets, buying items as they go on sale.  We’ve had strangers ask us what we need for this year’s collection drive.  OCS has asked if we can help them with other towns in Southeast Alaska where the need is great.  Our answer was simple.  Yes. 

These children didn’t ask to be taken out of their homes, but they were.  They weren’t asked to leave their personal belongings behind.  They just did.  Yes, life can be unfair…. But it shouldn’t be.  Our children are our legacy.  They deserve better.  They are the innocent in all this.  They deserve more.  I’d like to think our Lions Packs program brought a little comfort to each of their lives that moment they were taken into custody.  I’d like to think through our program that these children will know there are people who care what happens to them.  I’d like to think our Lions Pack program made a difference. 

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Public Relations

I've been busy PRing this week!  As the official "unofficial" public relations person for our club, I took my new assignment to heart and will give it 150%.  When I think of "public relations" I look at it two ways:  (1) informing people who are not Lions so they can see all the good we're doing and want to join in the fun and (2) letting other Lion members know what we're doing.

My first task was to come up with a schedule of events for our club whether it be vision screening or a fundraiser.  And because I don't just "wing" it, and hope for the best, I determined a timeline that would suit my needs.  From here I worked backwards from the date of the event to when something would need to appear in the paper to when the PSA or other form of advertising would need to be submitted.  And now I have a calendar of events and possible press releases and other forms of public relations activities.

The list of possible media coverage is huge whether it be for other lion members or the public.  For instance, we have our District.  On our District web page, we can submit articles of interest and calendar of events.

LCI has their blog.  They also ask that clubs submit newsworthy articles and stories that have been published in the news.  We have Lions Magazine.

Locally we have the Juneau Empire and the Capital City Weekly to advertise our good deeds, fundraisers, and other activities.  Within the Juneau Empire, we can submit our events to their daily events calendar.

Then we have the radio which has been an untapped media source for me.  It is my intent to start submitting announcements about all our public vision screening events, meetings, and other activities.

And, last but not least, is social media.  Facebook.  e-Clubhouse.  Our blog, The Flying Lion.

Yes, being the public relations person for our club is going to take time.  Our hope is that this new exposure will bring in new members.  We hope.

So stay tuned as we attempt our own media blitz this year!

We Serve!
Lion Nancy

Thursday, September 4, 2014

A Year Ago

The journey stated more than a year ago....  Let me start from the beginning.

On December 23, 2012, there was a "My Turn" article in our local newspaper, the Juneau Empire, written by Representative Les Gara expressing a need for foster homes.  It was a well-written article and one that caught my attention. But I wasn't interested in becoming a foster parent and the article was forgotten.  Fast forward to August 27, 2013, to an editorial in the Empire that also talked about the need for foster parents.  Still, I was not in a position to be a foster parent.
Our community drive where we collected backpacks and other items.
But in the editorial it was written that sometimes all the Office of Children Services (OCS) staff can come up with is a temporary home for the children who enter into the foster care program.  And often times they are bounced from foster home to foster home.  It also stated how harmful this was to the child. This made me sad.  But it also got me thinking.... what if this was my grandchild?  This was not acceptable!
Lion Tom Dawson taking donations from a lady
And the rest is history.  It's been just a year since the Juneau Mendenhall Flying Lions started the process that would eventually provide a backpack with a few items of necessity and comfort to each child who entered the foster care program.  On December 3, three of us delivered 95 backpacks and items of comfort and necessity to the Office of Children Services!  

Lions Packs was born!

Since then, we've been diligent about checking in with OCS to see what their needs might be.  When we were putting this program together, we didn't really know what to expect.... how many children would enter the program, what gender, what age, what items would give them the most comfort, etc.  And it's turned out that OCS has had some growing pains as well trying to figure this out.  
Some of the toys we received.
But I think we're finally on the same page and they are working hard at handing out the backpacks and the donations we provide.  
Every dentist donated toothpaste, brushes, and floss
Yes, it was a year ago that got me thinking.... not "could" we help these children but "how" could we help them.  Over this past year we have continued collecting books, making "tag" blankets, picking up items as they go on sale. We've had strangers ask us what we need for this year's collection drive. The other day OCS asked if we could help them service other towns in Southeast Alaska where the need is great.  Our answer was simple.  Yes.  

These children didn't ask to be taken out of their homes, but they were.  They weren't asked to leave their personal belongings behind.  They just did.  Yes, life can be unfair.... but it shouldn't be.  Our children are our legacy.  They deserve better.  They are the innocent in all this.  They deserve more.  
This what 95 backpacks look like!
I'd like to think our Lions Packs program brought a little comfort to each of their lives that moment they were taken into custody.  I'd like to think through our program that these children will know there are people who care what happens to them. I'd like to think our Lions Pack program made a difference.  

We will start this year's drive in a couple weeks.  We will ask the community for help once again.  I know they'll come through for us, again.  

If you're interested in started a program in your area, I'd be happy to talk to you about it.  

We Serve!
Lion Nancy

Monday, September 1, 2014

Fourteen Years Today

Today we're celebrating Lion Sue Bowman's 14 years as a Lion!  I've never met Lion Sue.... but I've heard good things about her.  She used to live in Juneau and way back when was President of our club.  Two years -- 2005-06 and 2006-07.  She now lives in Yakutat which is good for us because we now have a resident vision screener!  Lion Sue helps with vision screening for all health fairs that take place in their little town and we appreciate that about her.

Here's to another 14 years, Lion Sue!

We Serve!
Lion Nancy