By Kristin Boza
For the past 64 years, the Beverly Ridge Lions Club has proudly worked to support individuals, groups, and organizations in need, specifically related to blindness, eye and hearing impairments, and diabetes. The Lions are always seeking new members who want to provide their services to strengthen the club and community. Lions International, the largest service organization in the world, was founded in Chicago more than 100 years ago and its headquarters are now in Oak Brook. Collectively, the clubs have 1.4 million members in 48,000 clubs worldwide.
“Lionism is ‘Service from the Heart;’ our club invites requests for monetary and physical assistance from those in need,” said Jo Ann Maloney, Beverly Ridge Lions Club President. “While we focus on the issues of blindness, eye and hearing loss, and diabetes, which could lead to vision impairments, we also donate annually to the Pediatric Oncology Treasure Chest Foundation which provides toys to kids undergoing cancer treatments.”
Many of us recognize Lions members during their annual Lions Club Candy Day, which is the largest fundraiser of the year. They accept monetary donations to help those in need. A percentage of the money raised goes to the national Lions Foundation, but the local club keeps a sizeable portion to help local people.
Maloney says that the Club is looking to increase their fundraising efforts to build upon their charitable contributions. They hope to sponsor the Lions of Illinois Foundation Mobile Screening Unit, a vehicle that travels throughout Illinois and screens for hearing loss and retinal eye diseases.
“These busses were designed to detect hearing and vision issues in children and adults,” Maloney said. “The retinal scans are particularly helpful for early detection of potential vision issues.”
Members also work to raise funds in support of Camp Lions, a camp run by the Lions of Illinois Foundation that gives children with vision or hearing loss an opportunity to experience summer camp.
“The camp is geared toward their abilities and teaches them to have fun, get along with others, and thrive with their disabilities,” Maloney said.
The Club also donates funds to support the Hadley School for the Blind and Canine Companions, a service dog organization.
One of the largest pushes for the Lions Club is collecting eyeglasses that are distributed to people in need in other countries. Eyeglass collection boxes are found at many local businesses, particularly optometry offices and pharmacies.
The Club is always welcoming new members who have a passion for helping others. Among the Club members are Beverly/Morgan Park residents Ted Hollander, John Bukacek, John Carver, Carol Kenny, Bill Insley, and PV Chandy.
“The Lions Club is a great way to network with other like-minded individuals and achieve a sense of accomplishment in knowing you are helping others,” Maloney said. “Becoming a member of the Beverly Ridge Lions Club is one of the best decisions I ever made because I love giving to others. Each person who chooses to become a Lion member does so with a lot of heart in helping others in need.”
The Beverly Ridge Lions Club meets on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month at 115 Bourbon Street, 3359 W. 115th St., Merrionette Park. Potential new members are asked to reach out via Facebook.com/BeverlyRidgeLionsClub.