At the end of the last Farragut Lions Club meeting, two of the members stopped to explain how much they love the organization.
“It’s just that we do so much for everybody,” Julia Hart said. She and her husband, Dave, are both members with 20-plus and 40-plus year track records, respectively.
“You can’t imagine when people can’t see you and you make glasses for them,” she said as she teared up, “and they come in and thank you over and over again.”
“It gives us more than we give it,” Gerri Crutchfield, first vice president, said. “The good Lord put us here to do for others and this is how we do it.”
Twenty of the 32 members gathered at 6 p.m., Tuesday, July 11, for dinner and discussion. The club meets at Mimi’s Café in Turkey Creek on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month and Tom Nitz, current club president, presides. Other officers are Tom Haws, second vice president; Ann Raby, secretary; Dave Crawford, treasurer; Jim Hart, parliamentarian, and Jerry Griffin, “the lion tamer” who works with new members. On the board of directors are Carl Leonard, Marty Stormer and Julia Hart.
These Lions are laser-focused on one thing: vision. The members discussed how to continue raising money for free eye exams and health screenings, free glasses and the shipment of used glasses overseas. The annual
dues of $80 per individual and $135 per couple cover administrative costs, but the club is always looking for inspiration about how to raise money for glasses and screenings.
They raise money with events such as garage sales, an annual hole-in-one golf tournament, the Belk Charity Sale, a spring trip to Keeneland horse-racing track in Lexington, Kentucky, the upcoming barbecue dinner at Texas Roadhouse [where guests will get a generous meal for $10 and $6 will go straight to the club] and with the Second Annual Charity Car Show at First Baptist Concord Oct. 7.
The Farragut Lion’s Club chapter is one of 10 in the East Tennessee area.
“Our slogan is ‘Where there’s a need, there’s a Lion,’” Nitz said.
“All the profits from our fundraising, 100 percent, goes to charities to buy the glasses, do Kidsight screenings for 1-to-5-year-olds, ‘Gatlinburg for Glasses’ where we partnered with another club using a grant
from the parent Lion’s Club International, diabetes screenings and other projects,” past president Ed Mee said.
“The district governor of Lions Club, Paulette Bailey, got the grant of $10,000 and we participated with her and gave $100 shopping sprees to people in need to buy food and medicine at Walmart,” Mee added.
“People who are diabetic and can’t read the side of the box, when they get glasses, they can help take care of themselves,” Crutchfield said.
“Our club supports the mobile vision van in conjunction with other clubs,” Crawford said. “Normally, the third Wednesday of every month folks come to the Fountain City Lions Club building. The word ‘van’ is a misnomer. It’s a 45-foot trailer that stays in Fountain City. This past year we gave out more than 800 pairs of glasses.”
The 800 pairs included 95 that were made for Gatlinburg residents after the devastating late November fire.
For many years, the club has operated one of the largest vision assistance programs in Knox County, Crutchfield said.
“Last year 668 individuals received assistance and the majority were of working age,” Crawford said. “We provide free vision screenings to 11 preschools in conjunction with Vanderbilt. Last year we screened more than 340 preschoolers and 22 were referred as result of positive findings.”
The July 25 meeting will feature speaker Tom Baker, local author of “One Dog’s Faith.” Baker will talk about getting relief from stress and worry.
“We welcome new members and visitors,” Nitz said. For more information, go to http://farragut.tnlions.org/.