Lions Club District Governor visits Valley Lions Club

Published 9:00 am Thursday, August 19, 2021

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VALLEY — Barry and Brenda Elliott of Adamsville, near Birmingham, the husband and wife team was the Valley Lions Club guests on Monday. Brenda is the district governor and Barry, the executive director of Alabama Lions Sight.

Lions Clubs are well known for their support of sight preservation and helping many people with vision needs. This stems from a challenge made to Lions International by Helen Keller in 1925. She attended Lions Clubs International’s convention that year and urged members of the club to become “knights for the blind in the crusade against darkness.”

Lions Clubs today are in more than 200 countries and have more than 1.4 million members. They accepted Helen Keller’s challenge in 1925 and have been very active since that time in supporting sight preservation. “Vision care is very important to us,” Barry Elliott said. “You have to see well to perform well in life. Each local club needs to help take care of eye care needs in their local community.”

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Elliott thanked the Valley Lions Club on having been very supportive of the cause. He gave them some Alabama Lions Sight patches to sew onto their Lions Club meeting banner in appreciation of their support. In recent years, Valley Lions have been helpful to many indigent individuals in the local area with eye care needs. In many cases, they have paid for eye exams and glasses. They have also donated more than $1,000 to Alabama Lions Sight.

The first Lions Club was organized in Chicago by Melvin Jones in 1917. The first Lions Club in Alabama was organized in Birmingham in 1922 and Alabama Lions Sight in 1944.

One way Alabama Lions sight promotes vision care is to help those who can’t afford eye care. “On many occasions, we have taken care of their co-pays,” Elliott said. “Almost every week, anywhere from 15 to 20 people a week are referred to us for vision care. We are the largest provider of eye care for the indigent in Alabama. Over 400,000 people have been helped.”

Elliott said that Alabama Lions Sight is making a difference in people’s lives. “I’m grateful to be involved in this,” he said. “The fundraisers done by local clubs is very worthwhile. There’s not much one club alone can get accomplished, but when all the clubs come together we can get a lot done.”

Elliott is especially enthused about a mobile eye clinic Alabama Lions Sight is providing for 23 rural counties in the state. For the most part, these are impoverished areas with no eye doctors for miles around. “Many people who live in these areas have sight problems that could be corrected is they could visit an eye doctor,” he said.

The mobile eye clinic started in 2016. It’s been highly successful in the areas it has served, and Alabama Lions Sight is raising funds to have a second mobile eye clinic to serve more rural counties. A new mobile clinic will likely cost between $300,000 and $400,000. “If we could raise a little over $150,000, I think grants would take care of the rest of it,” he said.

“This club has been very supportive of Alabama Lions Sight for a long time,” Elliott said. “I thank you from the bottom of my heart for that support.”

An upcoming fundraiser will be coming up on November 13th at the state 4-H camp in Columbiana. Items are now being accepted for an auction that will be taking place that day.

“I love what I do,” Elliott said. “I preach on Sundays, conduct a Bible class on Wednesday night and work for Alabama Lions Sight the rest of the week.”

Wife Brenda is a retired teacher. They have two grown daughters who are also educators. As the current district governor, she embraces the theme “Individually we are but one drop but together we are the ocean. Let’s make waves!”

Mrs. Elliott said that all Lions Clubs need to grow and provide community service. “You also need to report what you are doing in your local community,” she said. “You can designate a club administrator to do this. Clubs are winning awards for outstanding performance. We need to know at the district level the good things you are doing.”

She suggested having project that benefitted children. “People will do things if they know it’s for the kids,” she said. “Find out what your community needs and address that need. I believe that anyone with a servant’s heart should be in a Lions Club. We have 37 clubs in our district. Please call on me if there’s any way I can help you,” she said.