January is an important month to the Santa Monica Lions Club, and in fact, to all Lions in the 46,000 Lions Clubs around the world. It is when we all celebrate Melvin Jones’ birthday on January 13th. The visionary founder of Lions Clubs International (LCI) started the organization with a small meeting of his friends in Chicago, where he shared his vision of helping others. LCI has grown to over 1.35 million members, making LCI the world’s largest service club organization.

Besides community service, LCI is devoted to training the leaders of tomorrow and one of the ways they do this is through international and regional leadership conferences. I attended a recent regional conference in Ontario, CA to with another SM Lion, 2nd Vice District Governor Carol Ann Emmitt. It reminded us of the mission of LCI and how much has been accomplished to help sight, youth, humanitarian efforts and the environment.

While many are aware of the many sight-related and community projects the SM Lions Club support in Santa Monica and the Westside, what Lions from around the world have accomplished working with the Lions’ charitable organization, the Lions Clubs International Foundation, is truly amazing. Some highlights include:

· Restored sight to 7.7 million people through cataract surgeries.

· Provided treatment for 271 million cases of river blindness.

· Built or expanded 660 eye care centers around the world and trained 681,000 eye care specialists.

¬∑ Launched the world’s first-ever initiative to combat childhood blindness in partnership with the World Health Organization.

· Awarded a total of more than $100 million is disaster relief.

· Engaged 13 million children in Youth Quest, a school-based life-skills program for children K through12, as well as also training 550,000 educators in 85 countries.

· Provided measles vaccinations to 41 million people in Africa as part of a pilot program that now includes a partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

· Planted over 15 million trees world-wide in one year.

As part of our local efforts Santa Monica Lions help support local charities by participating in walks, food drives, book drives for our Reading Action Program, planting trees (we are part of the 15 million trees listed above), writing holiday notes of thanks to our veterans, hosting eye screenings for children and adults, and at holiday time we ring the Salvation Army bell. These are just a few of the activities we do in the community, beyond our grants programs to provide funding for special projects.

These are some of the many reasons I am proud to be a Lion. If you would like to learn more about Lionism and the Santa Monica Lions Club, please contact me at (310) 623-4499 or sderemer@discoveryeye.org.

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