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"Roundheads and Ramblings"

non-profits

Food! Drinks! Gambling! Bargains! Prizes! Fun!



This is what will keep me off the streets for the next couple of days.  It's the annual fundraiser for my favorite non-profit -- Mid-South Lions Sight and hearing Service.  Although I can't help but be happy that my term as their president is over, nothing much keeps me away from helping their efforts.

So today we'll be moving all the auction items from the office to the hotel where the event takes place.  Then comes the task of setting up the silent auction tables -- probably at least seven of them--arranging all the items, cataloguing and pricing them --
And then, like a shampoo commercial, someone will have a better idea, and we'll "rinse and repeat," moving everything at least once and possibly six times.  The work goes on far into the night, which is why we all stay at the hotel for the weekend.

Saturday morning, I have a committee meeting to run at 8:00 AM (Gah!), two others to attend during the morning, and in between we'll be finishing the auction set-up. After a stand-up lunch, (probably Wonder bread and what one of our members calls "flat meat,") there will be a board meeting, and then the folks from the local casino move in to set up their equipment for a "funny money" fake casino night.

Guests start arriving at 5:00, so we'll dash upstairs to put on "going-out-to-a-fancy-dinner" clothes, and then back to help greet, direct people to the hors d'oeuvres stations or the bar, and encouraging lots of bids on the silent auction items (which means bidding on them ourselves to drive prices up and hoping we don't win everything we've bid on!)  There will also be a mystery wine pull going on.

Dinner starts at eight, along with a loud and fun live auction, with tempting vacations in the mix.  And then we end with an ice cream bar while all the bills are being toted up. I don't usually eat ice cream, but I'll be too tired by then to worry about a little lactose.

Sunday morning will mean the final clean-up, and then we're home to recuperate.  DO NOT call me on Sunday!

However, if you're in the Memphis area, we'd love to see you at the auction.  We have a hundred or so patients waiting for things like cataract surgeries. The money we bring in this weekend will go to pay for their treatment.

See the Super Bowl and Mardi Gras -- Change a Life

  I don’t use this space to solicit donations from my readers, but I’m making a single-time exception today.  I am the current president of Mid-South Lions Sight and Hearing Service, a four-state organization that provides free eye surgeries to patients who could not otherwise afford them.  We straighten the eyes of children with disfiguring muscle problems.  We treat amblyopia in small children who might otherwise lose the sight of one eye.  We re-attach retinas, treat glaucoma, and remove cataracts so that grandparents can see their grandchildren for the first time. I am justifiably proud of the work we do treating over 500 patients a year.  But such treatments are expensive, and we have no source of outside funding.  We finance our services through donations from Lions Clubs and individual Lions, as well as through legitimate fund-raisers.  Here’s our latest one:
 
This year’s big game, the NFL SUPER BOWL will be in New Orleans! The Louisiana Lions Eye Foundation has secured 2 tickets to the greatest game on earth, plus many other amenities. The best news is that the LLEF is sharing the proceeds with Mid-South Lions (LLEF has approved a grant of $10 per ticket to Mid-South!!)

This is a “Super Bowl / Mardi Gras” package. When will the Super Bowl ever be in New Orleans the same week that Mardi Gras kicks off?  The winners will be able to go to the greatest game on earth (the Super Bowl) and then see the kick off of the 2013 Mardi Gras season with parades on Wednesday and Thursday.

 
The lucky winner will be drawn on JANUARY 22, and will have a Super week consisting of the following:
 
  • Arriving at the Chateau Orleans in the French Quarter on Friday, February 1 for SEVEN (7) nights
  • Two (2) tickets to the Mardi Gras “Float Viewing Private Party” on Saturday, February 2. This party includes a live band, food, drinks and activities.  It will be the first time the Krewe members get to see this year’s parade floats.
  • Two (2) tickets to the SUPER BOWL in the Super Dome on Sunday, February 3.
  • Two tickets (2) for the Grand Stands to watch the Babylon parade on Thursday, February 7.
  • A very special value, two (2) Southwest airline tickets predicated on availability that week.
  • Plus lots of free time in between to enjoy the flavor of the French Quarter before having to check out on Friday, February 8.
 
This is a great opportunity to join the “Knights of the Blind in the Crusade against Darkness”… AND SEE THE GREATEST GAME ON EARTH…SUPER BOWL XLVII IN NEW ORLEANS AND EXPERIENCE MARDI GRAS IN PERSON!
 
 
To insure Mid-South’s grant portion of the program, make donations and get tickets online exclusively through a link on our website at www.midsouthlions.org
Can you spare $20.00 so that someone else can see again? Act now and you might just win the trip of a lifetime for yourself as well.

Discovering Another Knight of the Blind

The Southern College of Optometry in Memphis has its own Lions Club, with members drawn from faculty, staff, and students.  Chartered in 2004, they have grown to become the largest (and arguably the most active) club in West Tennessee.  My husband and I have been fortunate enough to serve as mentors for them during this entire period, and we are proud of their accomplishments. But once in a while, one of them shines particularly brightly, and we just have to brag.  The following blog appeared yesterday on the college website. I hope it gives you renewed hope for the future, safe in the hands of our young people.


Friday, November 30, 2012

A Knight to the Blind

Thanksgiving Break was great! My family and I spent much of it in the Smoky Mountains near Blue Ridge, GA. Besides over-eating and generally relaxing, we also spent a day hiking and it was beautiful! On the way back, we stopped at the Tennessee Aquarium and my kids loved it. Two huge buildings dedicated just to an aquarium meant that our 2.5 hours there was hardly enough. I’d highly recommend it to anyone with kids.

Perhaps the most memorable event during my vacation happened on the drive from Memphis. As I passed through the town of Tuscumbia, I noticed a sign announcing that this little city was the birthplace of Helen Keller. Had to stop. After hearing Helen Keller’s story all growing up, it was amazing to see it all materialize. There it was. Her playroom. The room she locked Anne Sullivan in. Most importantly, the pump where Helen first learned that each object has a name. Then, off to one side of the property sat a booth that caught my eye.

The booth was filled with Lions Club International banners from all over the world. As I paused there, I learned that in 1925, Helen Keller gave a speech at the Lions Club International Convention and this is the challenge she gave:

“Will you not help me hasten the day when there shall be no preventable blindness; no little deaf, blind child untaught; no blind man or woman unaided? I appeal to you Lions, you who have sight, your hearing, you who are strong and brave and kind. Will you not constitute yourselves Knights of the Blind in this crusade against darkness?”
- Helen Keller, June 30, 1925

As a result of that speech, Lions Club chose to make vision a priority in their quest to serve humanity. As I read and listened, her speech both humbled and emboldened me. It made me proud to be a Lions Club member. To be part of an organization so dedicated to helped bring sight to those in need. Moreover, it made me proud to be a future optometrist. One of some 35,000 optometrists trained and willing to end blindness in any way we can. I chose the right profession. I will be a Knight to the Blind.

Devin Duval
Class of 2014

What's the Secret?

I'm gearing up for a five-hour smiley marathon this afternoon. Our local Jason's Deli is running a fund-raiser for a 501 (c) (3) with which I'm involved. Actually I'm the incoming president, so I guess that's more than "involved!" Anyway, the organization is Mid-South Lions Sight and Hearing Service--a four state (TN, MS, AR, MO) organization. Lions Clubs in those four states raise money and then provide FREE eye care and hearing aids for indigent patients. Each potential recipient must be sponsored by a Lions Club, who checks eligibility (at or below federal poverty line, no other insurance) and provides transportation to and from one of our satellite clinics or the Hamilton Eye Institute here in Memphis. Then the doctors who work with us, many of whom teach at the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center, provide all necessary medical treatments, at no cost to the patient. Our own Mid-South organization pays for hospital time, equipment, disposables, etc.

We operate on a budget of over million dollars and treat hundreds of patients a year. We used to say we performed "a miracle a day," but we've already exceeded that 365 number for this fiscal year and have some 200 other patients on a waiting list. Per patient costs average out at around $1000 per patient, but I've seen costs go up to as high as  $40,000 for a single person.

Where does our money come from? Well, we have a booster club of well-wishers who make individual contributions every year. We have some corporate support, particularly from Walmart. Individual Lions Clubs make yearly donations. And beyond that, we have to raise the money through fund-raisers like the one we're doing tonight.

Starting at 4:00 PM and running until 9:00 PM, Jason's Deli (two locations) is donating 10% of its gross profits to Mid-South. Local Lions will be hosting the event-- greeting customers, informing them that 10% of their total check will support our efforts (so please eat a lot!), and passing out information and brochures to anyone interested. I'll be at their suburban location for the whole five hours (abdominal brace and all), while our CEO and Program Director handle the other site.

Will we make a lot of money? Probably not. I have no idea of how many customers we'll have, but most two-person checks will be for under $20.00, which means $2.00 for us. It'll take at least 1000 customers to pay for a single surgery. But that will be one more person who will have sight restored -- one child whose eyes will no longer be crossed, one grandmother who will see her grandchild for the first time, one person whose catastrophic accident will be reversed.



These are the "before and after" photos of one of our patients, a little girl attacked by her grandmother's dog.


It's worth it. But I have to admit, I often wonder at the amount of work we put in to keep this non-profit afloat. What does it take to convince people to help those who are so very much in need of help? How many people will actually make the effort to come out tonight to support us? What would it take to convince you to write a check? To make a regular monthly donation of $10.00? 

If you've had experience with raising money for a non-profit organization, I'd love to hear about your projects.

If you'd like to read more about Mid-South, I invite you to visit our website: http://www.midsouthlions.org/