The Lions Club in Baldwin has been providing community service for 74 years, putting on food drives, vision screenings for children, eyeglass and hearing aid recycling, raising money for prom dresses and even hosting a non-pedigree dog show to raise money for guide dogs for the blind.
However, Paula Umreiko, Lions Club District Governor of District 20 K2 Nassau County, NY and Bermuda, says the Baldwin club is down to three members right now. Umreiko is working with these members to recruit more members so they can “reassess the needs of the community.”
The Lions Clubs International began focusing on specific services in the community in 1917. In 1925 Helen Keller requested that the Lions Clubs be the Knights of for the blind in the crusade against darkness. The association has since expanded its focus to vision, diabetes, hunger, childhood cancer and the environment.
With the motto ‘We serve,’ Lions Clubs is the largest humanitarian service organization in the world and the first non-government organization to partner with the United Nations. Lions Clubs International has over 1.4 million members globally, operates in over 200 different countries and their foundation has given out over one billion dollars since its emergency relief program was founded in 1968.
Umreiko says the LCIF provided substantial emergency relief support to Nassau county during hurricane Sandy.
The Lions Club also provides grants for community service projects that are customized to the needs of the community. Umreiko puts it this way, “Your club, your members, your way.”
After being in the Lions Club for 15 years, Umreiko has helped with numerous community service projects around Nassau county and would like to bring these types of services to the Baldwin community. The Nassau branch of the Lions club is just beginning to restart their free eye screenings for amblyopi, in schools who are allowing them back in after Covid. These screenings can see if there is something abnormal about a student’s eyes.
Umreiko says that these screenings have saved children’s lives before. She recalls a child who had something wrong in their screening, and went to a professional for a diagnosis where they found a tumor. Umreiko says, “They lost their eye but saved their life.”
Another service the Nassau Lions Club frequently runs are food drives, especially recently during the pandemic. Umreiko says the food drives she participates in facilitate getting donations from local shoppers, grocers and organizations of both canned and fresh products. They then bring it to a strategically chosen spot in the community and set up a free grocery shop of their own.
The Nassau branch of the Lions club also puts on an annual Polar Express, which accommodated around 700 parents and children in 2020, giving them many essential items, food, toys and gifts for the holidays. On top of this, the Nassau branch also does beach clean ups frequently.
While these services are open to anyone in need in Nassau county, the Baldwin Lions Club is working to recruit more members so they can begin planning community service projects for Baldwin specifically.
Umreiko is working with the Baldwin Lions Club to revitalize this branch with more members from diverse backgrounds who understand the needs of the community so together, they can create a customized plan for the Baldwin community with the Lions Club’s backing. She emphasizes, “The more members we have, the more hands we have to work on one project or to work on multiple projects that community needs.”
The Lions Club is recruiting anyone who wants to help out in their communities.
Anyone who is interested in more information can contact Paula Umreiko at: firstname.lastname@example.org